IMG_2620On the 19th May 2016, five members of the PAL team travelled to the UK to take part in a speaking tour and educational exchange with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). PAL founders, Ahmad and Sameh, were joined by students, Feryal, Nour and Arore, all of whom have formed part of PAL’s hugely successful “Youth for Change” programme in Palestine.

The team then embarked on a busy two-week journey which saw them travel to London, Bristol, Manchester and Brighton. The team met with funders, gave five public presentations and took part various workshops and engagement activities with both MMU and two schools in Greater Manchester.

A major focus of the work was to introduce the hugely successful “Youth for Change” programme to the UK. Led by Nour, Feryal and Arore, five students from MMU took part in workshops to learn leadership and teaching skills. The students from both Palestine and the UK then visited schools and began work with the pupils to support the development of child-led animal welfare and environmental projects in their own community. It is hoped that the MMU team will continue to work on these projects now that the Palestinian team have returned home.

We asked the team to share their thoughts on the highlights of their time in the UK.

Read what they had to say below!

Find out more about our work with young people.

On coming to the UK for the first time:

IMG_2474Feryal: Thankfully I was given the opportunity to cross my biggest wish on my bucket list; visit England. To top it all off I went with the organization that I feel most devoted to, Palestine Animal League (PAL). The organization not only focuses on acknowledging animal rights in Palestine but it branches out to help empower youth to change the community in which they live in. I was so happy to be among the few chosen to be representing the Palestinian team in the UK. The tour PAL organized for my colleagues and I to travel to England to hold events and workshops around London, Manchester, and Brighton.

Nour: I want to start by saying how thankful I am for being one of the Pal members selected for the UK tour, and what a pleasant experience it was on so many different levels. For me I was really excited to be there, and was happy that other people in the UK know about the Palestinian cause and actually care about it, as so many of them showed us.

Arore: Every day that we spent in the UK was a new experience for us and we were happy to receive such a warm welcome and see the support for what we are doing. In each city, we created wonderful memories; for me the most special was when the team announced my birthday in Brighton and the whole audience sang to me!

On working with students and schoolchildren in Manchester:

IMG_2562Nour: It was a delightful experience with a lot of benefits exchanged; starting with being able to interact with other college students from the MMU, and the ability to share our knowledge and expertise between each other, and learn to look at things from a different perspective. As for me I learned from the MMU students how teaching methods work in the school of Britain and accommodate my knowledge to be able to work with their students, so we could succeed in our project. The benefit we took didn’t only come from the MMU students, but also the school children we worked with them, I was really amazed of the grade of creativity they were in, not only in that but also for the degree of awareness for the environmental problems around them, and how they want to solve it.

Arore: Working with the students in Manchester was a great experience for us, and I think for them too. I really hope the guys continue to do the work that we started together so that our efforts can bring results.

On the “Animals in the Classroom” event (Feryal, Nour and Arore ran a fantastic workshop as part of this event!):

IMG_2776Feryal: My most memorable experience happened to be in Manchester. I seem like I carry myself quite well, but put me in front of a group of people and my confidence is close to zero. My new and profound friends at MMU were standing by my colleague and my side when we toured the schools around Manchester, but they couldn’t stand by our side when we had to begin an animal rights conference with a PAL workshop.

There was a workshop in Manchester for various academics and scholars at MMU and Manchester University explaining what PAL is and what me and my colleagues role in the organization was. I was terrified. These were not school kids that I was used to teaching; I had to treat academics like school children and I was terrified.

We began the workshop by playing a few games in order to ‘break the ice’ between the teachers (us) and the academics (them). The whole point of playing games at the beginning is to make the student no longer feel he or she is in their common teaching atmosphere, the classroom. The objective of the games were to eradicate the barriers between a dominant power, that being the teacher, and the dominated, the students, the idea is to create the feeling of teamwork within a given space. Once the barriers were eliminated I became less overwhelmed and more assured. I’ve never imagined myself to be able to do present in front of a group of 25 academic scholars, it was both terrifying but thrilling, but it really boosted my confidence. I would do it all over again if I could. After our work in Manchester was done, we were treated to spend the weekend in Brighton.

Time for fun:

IMG_2835Nour: Despite having a long full journey, this doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun, we were able to see a lot of places in the UK, meet a lot of wonderful people, that I would love to meet again. At the end I just want to thank everyone I met during the tour from the start until the end, for the great hospitality, it was more than a wonderful experience and I know it couldn’t have been done without all the help that was given to the PAL members. I’m really grateful for everyone who was able to attend the tour and help during it.

Feryal: Our time in Brighton was spent on the beach eating chips with some seagulls reminiscing about the days that had past and the days to come. I didn’t want it to end. Meeting so many people, gaining confidence, making new friends, stepping outside my comfort zone, I even began to grow love for the weather. The experience I had in England with PAL was once in a lifetime and I’d do it all over again if I got the chance to. Thank you PAL!

Hopes and plans for the future:

IMG_2569Arore: It was hard for me to understand a lot in English, but I still felt that I understood and was able to connect with people despite this. I like the way that people look at us and how we were treated. I would really like to learn English now. The trip also inspired me to keep working with my group on the Youth for Change project; thinking how to improve and achieve more and more. What I would really like to see is the pupils from the school who are part of my group move on to become trainers and facilitators in the project.

Ahmad: This is the first opportunity we have had to work with MMU and it was really positive. Our student volunteers were able to see the importance of their work and it has inspired them to keep working hard on the Youth for Change project. The support that we saw from activists around the UK is fantastic and we are so grateful to all the people who hosted us throughout our stay; everywhere we stayed, we were made to feel at home and among family. I really hope that the work started with MMU will continue – I am confident that the UK students will continue to do great work on this project.

IMG_2863Sameh: The programme with MMU is very important for us as a team and it was great to see PAL’s work and ideas being embraced in the UK. This is a great success story for PAL and we hope that it is just the beginning. We hope that this work will lead to future exchanges and long-term working relationships. The work being carried out with young people might not be something which sees results overnight, but we are completely confident that, with this programme, we are building long-term change within society; for both children and adults.