MIRTHE (1st year)
"As a student in the Dutch school system, you have to finish your last year of high school with a personal research project. So my history teachers organized a trip to Israel and Palestine, where we as high school seniors could apply for. Not all parents of my classmates were keen on sending their kids to the Middle East, but my parents knew how much going there would mean to me, so they supported my decision. That's how a small group of students, including me, ended up doing an excursion to Israel and Palestine. Together with a friend I decided to write our research project on 'the role of women in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict' so we could use our observations and conduct interviews with the people we would meet during our road trip. We felt that discourses around conflict are often dominated by male experiences and do not take into account the position of women in conflicts. That's why we wanted to learn about the conflict from the women’s perspectives. We spoke to many women, went to several organizations and even to some border conflict zones and refugee camps.
Before going there, I had no idea what to expect. Coming to Israel opened my eyes, I saw things that I would not have been able to get to know if I would have stayed home. When I came back, I knew I wanted to learn more about the Middle East and as I loved conducting interviews, I chose to study journalism. However, I wasn't satisfied with this study. I wanted to learn more about the world, the people, politics, and culture. I finished my first year but then decided to quit my study and apply for the Bachelor of International Studies. And it is a choice I really don’t regret. I learned to think outside of the Western perspective, learned to consider local approaches, and became aware of my own assumptions on places such as Israel or Palestine for example. The past semester has been so interesting, and I am looking forward to learning even more about my region which is, of course, the Middle East and I am excited to become skilled in Arabic." (Mirthe, 1st year, the Netherlands)