#11 youth
Eva-Maria Verfürth

Tell me About Your Life

The interests and aspirations of young people all around the world may be similar – but their circumstances are different. Where do they meet up with their friends? What do they dream of? How did they fall in love?

We asked students at Dar-al Kalima College in Bethlehem, Palestine to tell us about their lives, dreams and aspirations – and about their relation to their Israeli neighbours.

Mohamad

Mohamad lives in Bethlehem City Centre. Studies: Art, Religion: Muslim

Why did you decide to attend college?

I want better qualifications and a good income.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I want to have a good family and a house, and to help my family.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

A good family.

How do you see your chances on the job market?

We have a lot of well-educated people in Palestine with university degrees. But only very few also get good jobs.

What is the biggest problem in your life?

That I can't travel to another city without having to go through a bunch of checkpoints. I am always at the mercy of the soldiers at the checkpoints, and whether they let me through depends on their mood. So sometimes a trip to Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron or Jericho takes three to six hours.

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

We play billiards, smoke a water pipe, or play cards.

Would your life be different if you were a woman?

Asa man you are independent, can earn your own money and work. Women have much larger problems. A father would never give his daughter money, for example.

How do you think you will meet the woman for you?

I will choose a woman when I decide to get married. After I finish university, as soon as I have my own house, I will start looking. She has to be intelligent.

What do you look forward to every day?

The animals and birds on my family's farm. We have 10,000 m² of land near Bethlehem where we have ducks, goats, chickens, dogs... I go there every morning.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

No! They would just think I was spying on them.

Taly Elias, 19

Taly Elias lives in Bethlehem. Studies: Contemporary Fine Arts, Religion: Christian

Why did you decide to attend college?

I like drawing and expressing my feelings through art.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I'd like to teach art. I'm already teaching my sisters and brothers.

How do you see your chances on the job market?

Although I will have a diploma after I finish college, I will have huge problems finding a job.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

A good family is most important to me, then a job, and then money.

What is the biggest problem in your life?

It is hard to travel and there are almost no jobs.

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

All sorts of crazy things like dancing, singing... although not in a club, since that is not allowed. We often just watch films.

Would your life be different if you were a man?

It would be easier to find work and I would have more freedom. My parents almost never allow me to go anywhere. They always want to know with whom, where, when exactly... So I have missed out on a lot of trips with friends.

Do you have a boyfriend?

I am engaged. We have known each other since I was nine. He is a family friend. Six months ago he returned from abroad and we fell in love. My family was completely astonished because we have always been more like brother and sister.

What do you look forward to every day?

My boyfriend coming by every morning before work to say good morning.

Christians are a minority in Palestine. Is religion important to you?

I have no problem with other religions. When I choose a friend, I don't ask him about it. I also have a lot of Muslim friends.

When was the last time you were in Jerusalem?

Last Christmas to go to church there. We can't get permission otherwise! My uncle once went to hunt on an Israeli's land, but he didn't know that it was in Israeli territory. He hasn't gotten permission to cross the border for four year now and he lost his job in Jerusalem.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

Two years ago, I stayed at my aunt's house in Jaffa, Tel Aviv for a month. Her son, my cousin, goes to an Israeli school, and I met some of his friends. Most Israelis are really friendly and not as bad as most of us think.

Majdsalsa, 20

Majdsalsa lives in Beit Sahur. Studies: Documentary Film, Religion: Atheist

Why did you decide to attend college?

I like studying. Many of my family members are artists, so this is in my blood. My father and grandfather were olive wood carvers.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

My dream is to become a movie actor, but it's difficult because no college offers that as a programme of study. I would have to go to Egypt. But I would prefer to go to Hollywood; their way of thinking is more open minded. I especially like road movies. But I have no real plans for the future. I could take over my father's business or produce films. I'm young; I have a lot of options.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

A good family.

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

We sit around in restaurants, smoking water pipes and playing cards.

When was the last time you were in Israel?

On some Christian holiday... last Christmas I think. I also went to Tiberias (in Northern Israel) with friends, just as a tourist and to go swimming.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

No.

Do you have a girlfriend?

I have an open relationship with a girl from school.

Hiba, 24

Hiba lives in Dehesha refugee camp in Bethlehem. Studies: Documentary Film, Religion: Muslim

Why did you decide to attend college?

I really enjoy studying; it interests me. I also want to draw attention to the problems in my country – the military occupation and the social problems. My first film was about the Dehesha refugee camp in which I live.

If you were a famous director, what film would you most like to make?

It would be about my life. And about my brother who has been imprisoned in Israel for nine years now.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I want to be an author, director, or editor.

How do you see your chances on the job market?

Only very few get good jobs.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

A good family first, followed by my job and financial security.

What is the biggest problem in your life?

The occupation without a doubt.

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

We talk, watch films and discuss the news. Life here is very different than in Germany.

When was the last time you were in Israel?

I am never given permission because my brother is in prison.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

No. But one of my fellow students works in Hebron and knows some.

Fuod, 18

Fuod lives in Dehesha refugee camp in Bethlehem. Studies: Documentary Film, Religion: Muslim

Why did you decide to attend college?

I want to portray life in Palestine through film. I want to make the first film about the checkpoints.

How do you see your chances on the job market?

I am very afraid that I won't find a job.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

Family. What do you and your friends do when you get together? We meet up somewhere and talk.

Would your life be different if you were a woman?

Yes, in many areas. I don't want to be a woman. Men are stronger and better educated.

Do you have a girlfriend?

Yes, I met her at school.

When was the last time you were in Israel?

I have no idea; it was a long time ago.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

No.

Hedaia, 21

Hedaia lives in Beit Jala. Studies: Jewellery Design and Production, Religion: Muslim

Why did you decide to attend college?

It's a hobby, I enjoy it.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I want to be a famous jewellery maker and have my own family. I want to have children, but not too many. And I don't want to live with the whole extended family. I want to live with just my husband and my children.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

Family. And a job where I can earn some money.

What is the biggest problem in your life?

Other people – I think differently than most others.

Would your life be different if you were a man?

Boys have a lot more freedom! We girls always have to stay home, but men can go anywhere and everywhere. Girls can't meet up with friends in the evening, and not all can go to college.

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

We pretty much see each other only at college.

Do you have a boyfriend?

No, but I hope to find one soon.

What do you look forward to every day?

Going to college.

When was the last time you were in Israel?

When I was 15.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

No.

Mutasim, 20 (no picture)

Lives in: Doha near Bethlehem
Studies: Documentary Film
Religion: Muslim

Why did you decide to attend college?

It interests me and I enjoy it.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I want to work, get married and have children.

How do you see your chances on the job market?

I have almost no chance of finding a job.

What is particularly important to you: career, family or income?

A good family.

What is the biggest problem in your life?

The occupation and the checkpoints. It is so hard to travel anywhere. I was also in prison once, though I've never hurt anyone.

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

Smoke, drink coffee or play cards in the city. We go to the cinema or hang around in the city.

Would your life be different if you were a woman?

Oh, I don't want to be a girl!

Do you have a girlfriend?

Yes, my cousin. We will get married one day.

When was the last time you were in Israel?

Ten years ago. Back then it was easier to get across the border.

Do you have any Israeli friends?

I am friends with one Israeli woman. I wrote to her on Facebook. But we have never met.

Where are you from? And what is your life like? Use the "Comments" section below to share your experiences and tell us about your day-to-day life.

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