Students and internationals alike, we were all were very busy with the many different activities of the Global Campus. Our time working together on the Solar Dryer was full, and focused on practical matters of getting the materials and putting them together. Nevertheless, the students clearly understood the deeper intentions of the project. Supporting autonomy and resilience in their Palestinian community touched them most deeply. They were good students and idealistic young people, so of course the general questions of peace and sustainability were appreciated, but in a somewhat more abstract way.
This is natural of course, and the real-world examples that they live with every day are powerful starting points for thinking more generally about how a “mentality of scarcity” of resources leads to exploitation, mismanagement, and conflict. For instance the political and economic consequences of the water question in Israel-Palestine are clear; the solutions, too, are clear, and seeing them reveals the human-made nature of the scarcity. For those young people disposed to think more deeply about these questions, the Global campus has already been a big step. I am curious and impatient to see how these thoughts develop—about community, sustainability, and peace—in the individuals and in the group, over the coming months.
One opportunity we had to see how the students were processing the more conceptual material, was during their presentations about their projects. During an “Open Day” at the farm, and a day at their local university, we had a chance to witness their enthusiasm and pride, their practical understanding of the techniques and technology and their ability to recreate it independently, and their appreciation for the deeper implications of regional autonomy and resilience. There were very satisfying moments for the leading team.
Although I have not been back yet, part of the team returned after a few weeks to Tulkarm. The Solar Dryer is in use, and Muna is experimenting with different arrangements of the trays and placements of the vegetables to be dried. It is hard to believe that, with the interior so white, it won’t need some darkening of the floor, but so far it seems to hold a nearly ideal temperature as it is. I may not know more until I return to Tulkarm in April.
The unique value of this project is that it can do more than provide immediate and practical benefit to people living under very difficult circumstances. It can be useful right away, but does not do this by placing a band-aid over an intolerable situation. Nor does it arm one side of a struggle, to strengthen them for future conflicts. It provides something now, but in a way that reveals the conflict to be unnecessary, that shows the conflict to be a consequence of illusions of scarcity, and of fear. It does not break holes in the wall, but reveals the wall to be a strange and ridiculous thing… a symptom of fear and short-sightedness.
May it serve peace.