Poetry Contest Inspires Palestinian Youth

June 3, 2009
Palestinian Youth in Classroom

About the Author: Christina Higgins serves as Assistant Information Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.

It’s sounds corny, but it’s true. Every time I have the honor of representing the United States at a local event, I choke up. It’s not hard to represent the United States, because we stand for enduring values. President Obama spoke about these values in a powerful speech on May 21, calling them, “a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality, and dignity….” But I also choke up, because I feel an immense honor representing my aunts and uncles in Wisconsin and Ohio, my cousins in Florida, Texas, and Oregon, my friends throughout the United States.

It happened most recently in Bethlehem. I had the honor of attending graduation at a Palestinian high school. I presented an award for the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem’s online poetry contest. The contest winners hailed from Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and Gaza. As I entered the assembly hall, just behind the Boy Scouts clad in Scottish kilts, I was reminded of the fascinating and rich history of the Holy Land, where young Palestinians play traditional Arabic tunes on bagpipes. I presented the award to the winner, the beaming graduate, Khalid, and congratulated him on his poem, “Let’s rejoice. It’s Springtime!” Reflecting the contest’s theme of nature and conservation, he wrote, “I see the flowers, the roses, everywhere, like the stars in the sky…I hear the sound of rivers and waterfalls, like a melody and a song.”

Khalid displayed all the exuberance of a high school graduate anywhere in the world. He was looking toward the future with anticipation. In fact, many in the region are filled with anticipation, encouraged by U.S. statements of support for the two-state solution, a future where Israel and a Palestinian state will live together in peace and security. All eyes are now on Egypt where President Obama will deliver an important speech on June 4 about America's relations with the Muslim world. I am sure that Khalid will be listening.

Comments

Comments

Rebecca
|
United States
June 3, 2009

Rebecca in U.S.A. writes:

This makes me choke up to read this! And makes me very proud as well to be an American and to be able to offer such a positive stance in the world so that such awards are seen with such pride by persons around the world (American or not). Congratulations to Khalid and I hope that his winning poem will be posted for us to enjoy.

Coreen
|
Wisconsin, USA
June 4, 2009

Coreen in Wisconsin writes:

What an HONOR for Christina to be able to present Kahid with his award. Hope we get to read the whole poem. We pray every day for PEACE in ALL the WORLD.

Keep up the good work Christina.

P H.
|
Ohio, USA
June 4, 2009

Jane in Ohio writes:

Wonderful inspiring story and I am glad the U.S. recognizes the efforts of students all around the world.

Maath
|
Israel
June 9, 2009

U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem Webmaster Maath writes:

You can read the winning Poems here:
http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/poetry_winners.html

Vanja
|
Virginia, USA
June 5, 2009

Vanja in Virginia writes:

What a touching inspired and uplifting story. Congratulations to Khalid for a beautiful poem and thank you to Christina for sharing it as well as her thoughts and feelings with all of us.

Michael
|
Georgia
June 7, 2009

Michael in Georgia writes:

It is nice to see poetry resonate in a healing way throughout the world and that the U.S. nourishes this lovely form of expression. I read once if poets practiced politics and politicians poetry the world would be a much more peaceful to live in!

Doris
|
Wisconsin, USA
June 8, 2009

Doris in Wisconsin writes:

What a wonderful story. Christina, you are a beacon of light to the world. Thanks for sharing.

DR.JAD
|
Canada
July 22, 2009

Jad in Canada writes:

ALL OF MOSLEMS AND NON MOSLEMS IN HOLY LAND AND THE WORLD I HOPE THEY ARE VERY EAGER TO PEACE AND SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR US AND FOR OUR KIDS FOR THE FUTURE TO LIVE IN SAFETY LIFE WITH OUT ANY FEARING FROM EACH OTHER , TO FOREGET THE BLOODY PAST AND BELT THE TRUTH AND FAITH FOR THE FAMILYS FOR FUTURE TO DEVELOPE TO BELT NOT TO DEMOLISH AND DESTROYING WHAT WAS BELT .
ALL WE ARE THIRSTY AND STARVEY AND HUNGRY TO PEACE IN PALESTINE IN HOLY LAND , I DONOT WANT TO SE MY KID THROW STONE TO JEWISH OR JEWISH SHOUT MY KIDS IN FRONT OF ME THIS IS THE REASON I AM NOT IN PALESTINE MY HOME EVEN I AM LIVING IN CANADA , IF THERE IS PEACE ONE DAY IN PALESTINE I WILL NOT STAY EVEN SINGEL SECOND IN USA OR CANADA EVEN THEY ARE THE BEST PLACE I FIND TO LIVE IN SAFETY AND FREEDOM AS THEY ARE FREEDOM COUNTRIES.

Bassam
|
France
July 23, 2009

Bassam in France writes:

Thank You Christina for sharing this experience with us. And my gratitude to Khaled who has preserved what is most precious in humanity in a most inhumane environment; Bethlehem, Christianity's cradle, is fully enclaved, walled in today. If Khaled wants to go to visit a relative in the near city of Jerusalem he will have to endure humiliation, check points, and all this without a guarantee that he will get as far as a stonethrow from Bethlehem. Thank you Khaled for your humanity, thank you Christina for being his and humanity's "impresario".

pictures c.
|
Canada
October 12, 2009

P.C. in Canada writes:

Recently many problems occurred in Palestine and they need a fresh breathing. This contest might invoke some spark among them and this is really a great move to make them stable in the so called contests.

.

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