Day 25-27

Post by Sven

Friday 17th March

Today we did a trip to Bethlehem. First of all it was really nice that a lot of our Palestinian fellow students took part in our trip. After reaching the city we started our day with a small breakfast next to the city centre. We were discussing if we whether want to explore the city on our own or not. The majority wanted to split up the group. Therefore we explored the city in small groups.
I didn’t expect the city being so touristic which lead to a certain disappointment. Before continuing our trip we bought souvenirs for friends and family. While buying postcards I talked to the shop owner. I saw that she sells reusable bags. This was quite interesting for our “reusable bags” project. Therefore I asked her about the base price and if she is satisfied with the volume of sales.
After that we took the bus continued our ride and finally reached the wall. The colours and pictures were really fascinating but still the wall doesn’t make you feel comfortable. Furthermore we went into “The walled off Hotel” located a few meters next to the wall. The interior decoration and the gallery were really fascinating. Some of us also took the opportunity and visited the museum of the hotel. They charged everyone for 15 NIS only locals had free entrance leading to a good mood for some of us. Melissa, Miriam and I decided to take a quick rest and we enjoyed a coffee while watching the wall trough the window.
Our final destination was located at the border of Bethlehem. We met people living without electricity or running water. It was so surreal cause these people lived next to Israeli settlements. These moments gave us the opportunity to experience a huge clash of cultures and two different worlds meeting. When our host lead us through our way next to the fence a conflict occurred out of nowhere. One guy from the other side of the fence verbally attacked one person of our group. He asked us how we can be able to stand on this side of the fence supporting “those” people. Furthermore he wanted to show us a video of a situation two days before when one settler was killed. A huge argument between him and some of our Palestinian students occurred. I was really shocked when the settler pointed on the back of his jeans showing a gun. During the whole time is little son (maybe 6-10 years) stood next to him and had to see the whole situation. We left after the situation calmed down a little bit.
Finally we called it a day and started our drive home.

Saturday 18th March

Linda and I planned to do some more theoretical work for our project. Before going to work we started the day with a fresh juice at our favourite juice bar. The seller suddenly started to talk in French to us although we almost attended his shop every day. After that we went to the Star&Bucks Café. A café which tried to imitate the classic Starbucks shops. Furthermore they also offer food and shishas. For the last days we often came here to do our theoretical work. After finishing in the afternoon we went home and watched a German football game.
In the evening Josh and I went back to the city centre and looked for some food. We decided to go to a Shawarma place and bought a vegetarian wrap. Buying a vegetarian wrap gave us the opportunity to prepare it ourselves. After that we were invited to spend an evening at Berlin bar with some Palestinian students we met at BZU while making interviews for our project. Although we really wanted to go we decided to cancel the meeting because we had to get up early.
Finally the majority of our group met at Base2 and enjoyed the evening with some drinks and nice talks.

Sunday 19th March

Today we got up early to start our trip to Jericho and the Dead Sea. I was looking forward to visit the Dead Sea for a really long time. For the beginning we went to Renad´s place and picked her up. When we reached the first checkpoint we got a surprising rejection. The soldiers explained that due to a new law we were not allowed to pass through the checkpoint with our license plate. Therefore we had to go back and took an alternative route passing the Calandia checkpoint.
While heading to Wadi Qelt. we stopped at an amazing viewpoint enjoyed the extraordinary view, took a lot of pictures and visited a monastery. Some locals tried to sell souvenirs or donkey rides. All of us were really sad to see how badly those people treated their animals. They hit the donkeys with billets and most of them were really unfriendly.
After that we hiked up the mount of temptation and visited another monastery. When we decided to leave we saw a loud group of children being forced to stay outside the monastery. The teachers left them behind without any persons in charge.
We hiked down to the bus and continued our journey. Some us wanted to visit Jericho while the majority preferred to visit the Dead Sea.
Taking a bath in the Dead Sea was an amazing experience. We floated on the water and could see the border of Jordan on the other side. After our bath we rubbed ourselves with mud and enjoyed the sun. In the evening we met up with the rest of our group and went through the streets of Jericho. We ate a falafel sandwich and finished the day with an extraordinarily good ice cream.

Day 22-24

Post by Melissa

15th March – Getting blond in Palestine (because why not?)

The day started off with a delicious breakfast of a shrak falafel sandwich with hummus (what else?), fries and herbs tea. After Shahd, Layla and me finished, we met up with Reem, Marios, Sarah and Renad. We had an appointment at the Ministry of Culture with a female author who already wrote and published several books for children. They were very welcoming and friendly even though we arrived rather late. We talked to her about our upcoming art workshop at Saturday and listened to her opinion and tips. She gave us many ideas and inspirations regarding our project. In the end she gave us one of her books as a present. After we drove back to our apartment it was time for me and Sarah to rush to our next appointment with a hairdresser Shahd recommended us. When we arrived at the hair saloon “roots” in the center of Ramallah, we got to know the owner Mohammad Moutaz. We told him about our plans to become blond and so it began. We spend the rest of the day at the saloon talking laughing and being patient all together. Since Mohammad Moutaz really tried his best at this job, it took more than everyone of us thought. That’s why he gave Sarah an extra appointment at Saturday. This was the first time I felt like I got my hair “styled” by an old friend rather than a stranger, so if you need a hairdresser in Ramallah one time, I definitely recommend going there 😉 also the result was better than expected. Of course it was a very weird and strange feeling seeing myself as a Blondie but still he did a really good job. On our way home it was already dark and Sarah decided to get her and Marios a Shawarma when all of a sudden a weird guy stood in front of the restaurant and started to sing aka scream Arab and English songs. I got scared so we waited a little bit inside of the restaurant. Even the employees laughed and got confused. “He is a crazy man”,”Chalas” they tried to get him to go away but he didn’t stop singing songs and so he started to do some Karate moves and rolled on the floor outside on the street. We took the chance and ran as fast as we could to the market. When we saw him around the corner again, we totally freaked out and ran all the way back screaming and panicking. Out of fear we ran into our favorite juice store to get some help. 3 of the employees walked us home without hesitating. Even though I could have relinquished this frighting experience in the end it was still a funny end of the day.

16th March – Adventures in Wadi Qelt

Today Gerrit and me started the day early because we decided to drive to Jericho to hike in Wadi Qelt and we didn’t regret it at all. The Canyon was breathtaking and we enjoyed every minute there with us and nature only. It’s a wise decision to go there if you need a pause from all your worries or stress and if you want to be amazed by mother nature. We were almost alone in the Canyon and we saw a wild cat, a horde of donkeys and goats, an abandoned Bedouin and even waterfalls there. We took a lot of pictures, but still pictures will never capture what we had the opportunity to witness with our own eyes. I am very thankful for that experience and will definitely never forget about it. When we arrived home Layla and me met with Shahd and Reem at our apartment to talk about details for our project and the procedure of the session. We worked the rest of the day and discussed our results afterwards with Marios and Sarah. Linda and me went shopping afterwards and went to eat something. Then we ended up the shopping day going to a restaurant where we ate fresh baked bread with Za’atar and oil.

17th March – Trip to Bethlehem

Finally we went to Bethlehem. I was very excited about it, for the religious history of the city. When we arrived, the first thing we did was going to a restaurant all together and eat some falafel, hummus and foul. Even though nearly most of my time here in Palestine I ate falafel, I still didn’t get tired of it, it was delicious as always. Afterwards we went to the birth church. It was beautiful but unfortunately full of tourists which was a little disturbing. We had 1 ½ hours to walk around in groups and explore the area and other churches. Layla and me bought some souvenirs while Anne was filming a couple of times. When we walked around all of a sudden plenty of men were praying in the middle of the market street which was a touching moment to me since I am Muslim myself. Then it was already time to drive to the border wall in the middle of Bethlehem where nearby there’s an original Banksy graffiti painting. We got told the history of this wall; Before the wall was build, this exact street was the most important road for economy in Bethlehem and now it’s kind of dead. We also visited the Banksy hotel which had a very creative and unique style. First we walked around and looked at the different paintings in the gallery. Then Linda, Sven and me drank a coffee in the lobby and talked about our impressions. After everybody met in the lobby we went to the Banksy graffiti and the shop next to it. We took a couple of pictures and headed to Sho-Shahla, a village surrounded by Israeli settlements. We talked to its citizens and one man walked us around his village. He had a baby Camel which was following him the whole time. One could see the strong bond between them both. We walked right next to the fence of the settlement when all of a sudden a settler came closer and talked to us in a very aggressive way. Since I didn’t want to give him the attention he wanted I walked away and a couple of minutes later everybody moved away from him. Again it was shocking to see how settlers are treating Palestinians and act superior towards everybody. Nevertheless we walked a little more and took a final picture all together before we went home again.

YALLAH 2017 is coming

After a successful kick-off in 2016, YALLAH has been funded for another two years! Everything is set for YALLAH 2017! Application deadline is January 25th and only a month later, around February 22nd we will start with our German students visiting the West Bank. The second phase of this years’ exchange will be in july, then our Palestinian fellow students will visit us in Germany.

You’ll find more info on this website and in the official announcement (PDF).

There will be an information event at University of Siegen on Thursday, January 12th,  6pm in room US-F 308 (Ludwig-Wittgenstein-Haus / Kohlbettstr. 15 / former city hospital).

Interactive Map – POIs for Refugees in Germany

An interactive map was created with Syrian refugees living in Germany. The refugees were invited to a workshop session, where they were taught the basics of interactive maps in the web and computer usage, in order to tag points of interest in a map. The POIs were supposed to be helpful for new coming refugees, so they can orient themselves better around the Siegen-Wittgenstein area. The data collected will be helpful for the research project “Nett-Werkzeug”, which focuses on helping refugees and volunteers to get in contact and provide various services (such as the already described map, translator exchange service).

Team Members: Sujood Al Haj, Ali Abu Hijleh, David Amend, Renad Khateeb, Marios Mouratidis, Sarah Rüller, Adham Sweedan

Team Garbage: Edible Cutleries & social experiment

A very obvious issue found in Palestine was a rather nonreflective handling of garbage by locals. A lot of throw away cutlery is used at the university and other places the students visited. So, one team came up with the idea of producing edible cutlery. Prototypes made from a special bread dough were created and tested in Palestine. In Germany, this concept continued with the creation of moulds (by using 3D printers and silicone) and a local venue offered the participants a contract. The team also organized a plastic bag prank in a Palestinian supermarket. Customers of the supermarket were charged a small fee for the, usually free, bags their groceries were put in.

Team Members: May Abdelrahim, Sondos Dahbour, Dina Haddad, Ramsis Kilani 

Computer Club in Al-Amari Refugee Camp

Al-Amari Refugee Camp is close to Ramallah city center. In the camps’ youth club was an abandoned computer room with some old terminals and electronic learning kits. The students got into contact with the club administration, got the permission to reopen it and started a workshop series about electronics, with refugee kids (boys and girls) aged 10 to 13. The workshop series took place on a weekly basis from April until August 2016 (when the Palestinian exchange students visited Germany). The club is now active and ethnographic research is still being conducted; based on this research, a poster and a long abstract were published at the ACM GROUP 2016 conference.

 

  1. Konstantin Aal, Marios Mouratidis, Anne Weibert, and Volker Wulf. 2016. Challenges of CI Initiatives in a Political Unstable Situation – Case Study of a Computer Club in a Refugee Camp. In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 409-412. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2957276.2996281

 

Team Members: Ali Abu Hiljeh, Renad Khateeb, Marios Mouratidis, Adham Sweedan

Urban Gardening in Palestine and Germany

Some students found out that there is a lot of unused space in the crowded city of Ramallah.  They came up with the idea to use these unused urban areas (like rooftops) for gardening. This approach also implied, by the materials used, another problem – namely garbage and waste. In workshops with Palestinian refugee children, a vegetable and herb (tomatoes, mint, cucumbers, lettuce) garden was created, by using empty plastic bottles as planters. The children would learn about empowerment, responsibility and being self-sustainable.

During the period in Germany, many Palestinian students requested to work with Syrian refugees. In cooperation with a local refugee camp, the team presented the idea to the inhabitants of the camp. The refugees liked the idea, so a garden was built as well.

Impression from the workshop in Palestine

Impressions from the workshop in Germany 

Team Members: David Amend, Sarah Rüller, Ala Abou Fara, Yara Al Shafie

Documentation Group

A group of students wanted to create a documentary about this program to create a multimedial artefact of cultural exchange between the western and Arab world, to tackle skewed media images from both sides and offer an accessible and portable experience of both cultures. This and further work is planned to be exhibited in Siegen (and other museums) in spring 2017 in collaboration with an artist from cologne.

Team Members: Mahmood Abdelkareem, Aydin Cosgun, Rand Inaim

Handicapped Persons

A team of students started campaigns to raise awareness for people with special needs in Palestine and Germany, especially deaf people. Posters and stickers were designed in German and Arab promoting sign language. Also, a website was created with further information on their mission called Hal Tafhamni – Do you unterstand me? (http://www.haltafhamni.com/)

 

Team Members: Anke Freuwört, Dina Haddad, Renad Khateeb, Jenny Kolloch, David Struzek, Laiana Obada Maswada

Amal – Cultural Exchange videogame

Amal is a Point and Click Adventure that aims to support intercultural exchange between Palestine and Germany.

The videogame tells the story of a small girl (Amal) doing various tasks in a Palestinian refugee camp. The purpose of the game is to enable the player an access to Palestinian socio-cultural conditions regarding refugees and also to their values, beliefs and culture in general. Amal is open source and as of now, is available on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and Android.

Amal is developed with the open source engine godot.

Download it here: https://github.com/MartiniMoe/Amal

Team Members: Jasmin Kirchhübel, Moritz Obermann, Basil Alkatheeb

 

Back Home / Review

Post by Rand Inaim & Mahmoud Abdelkareem

yallah exchange programm - aug review

Our month officially started when we arrived at the airport and saw the entire German group there waiting for us and welcoming us. After the greetings we headed to our apartments. During our way home, huge areas of ‘green’ were all that our eyes could see! Green is everywhere! That was our first impression of Germany. We were surprised that we had to start the month with a very cold and rainy summer! Then the weather started getting better.

The month was full of new experiences and fun, but we will never forget our first experience with buses in Germany. As we took the bus for the first time to the university after half an hour, we were surprised that we came back to the same point we started from! I think one month was enough for us to understand how the buses work there! The day after, we took a local friend to the park in Siegen, so we wouldn’t get lost again! From there, we saw an overview of Siegen from a high point in the city, it looked very nice, green and full of architectural details. We would later come back to the same park with Ramsis and the whole group. We tried a traditional German potato salad dish  for the first time, which Ramsis made for us.

Later the same week we took the train to Köln (Cologne), it was our first time in the city full of tourist attractions. It was a beautiful city where we saw the most beautiful architecture in Köln, the very old cathedral (the Dom), we also climbed over 530 stairs to get to the top of it and walked around while seeing Köln from over 100m high, with all of the city, it’s details and the Rhine River in our eyesight. Another thing every visitor should visit in this beautiful city is the chocolate museum ‘Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum’ where we saw the process of making chocolate and tried a little bit of chocolate as well. The Rhine River was a quiet and calm place to end the long day, we needed to sit and have some ice cream after this tiring day.

The second week was fun in general, it started on the ninth when we all went to watch a football match between Siegen and Schalke U23, we walked all the way to the stadium from Siegen and that was a nice experience (the street was packed with car dealers, and yes Porsche! In addition, we even saw a BMW i8 at the stadium). We started getting used to things around in the city, became familiar with the transportation system and started working on our projects. We began exploring things on our own to get more out of this calm city, some of us started searching for tours and activities that we could do as well.

yallah exchange program - aug review2

In addition, this week was special to all of us, it was the week we met the Palestinian community here in Siegen, and oh boy were they welcoming, typical Palestinians! What we did not know is that all of these people were much more Palestinian than many Palestinians living in Palestine! That week they invited us to a barbecue in the woods, which was nice, they had Palestinian food, Palestinian music and many Palestinian people. What astonished us most about the Palestinians is the fact that they stick to their beliefs despite being so far away from Palestine and for such a long period. Moreover, not only do they stick to Palestine a lot, they also teach their children about Palestine, and the Palestinian situation. We were surprised when we saw kids as young as 10 years old who speak like us and know about Palestine as much as we do, even though they were born in Germany and have never been to Palestine or have been there only once. Even riding in their cars and listening to the traditional Palestinian music they were playing, made us feel like we were in the streets of Ramallah, we really felt like we were home and among our families whenever we were with them.

yallah exchange program - aug review3

This was the week of adventure and new experiences. It all started when Ramsis took us all to try this amazing Italian restaurant near the university, and oh boy was it delicious. Then the adventure continued all the way to Phantasialand in Köln. We had to wake up early that day, at first, we did not really understand why, but then when we stood for more than 2 hours to get on a single ride it hit us and we discovered that it was a busy place. With record-breaking rides, heart dropping experiences and very good food it really is an adventures place that everyone who goes to Germany must visit.

Later that week, we were all invited to one of the German student’s house to have lunch there (Jasmine invited us). It was near Köln, and on the way there we stopped for a bit at Gamescom which was happening in the same period we were in Germany, and some of us went to see it! The lunch was something new, having German food in a German house was something we all wanted try. All the food was delicious and we felt like we were at home.

After that we went back to Köln to see the Gamescom festival which was at night, it was so much fun, there was music, games, photo booths and much more to see and do, we tried everything and listened to many performers sing that night, the fun continued until late into the night. We will not forget that day, it was the day we walked from Weidenau all the way back to our dorms after 3 am because there were no busses that late at night.

fab lab siegen

This was by far the hardest/saddest week we faced in our month in Germany; it was our fourth and final week. We were getting ready to pack our stuff and head back to Palestine. Before saying our final goodbyes, we had to prepare for the fab lab opening in Siegen University.

We spent a fair share of this week preparing for the fab lab opening, it was an opening to display the new equipment in the lab like the 3D printers and the laser cutter, but we would also showcase our projects to the visitors of the opening. We put tables outside the lab doors and displayed our projects to the people while they entered or left the lab opening. We (the documentation team) spent the days of this week collecting images and videos of the groups while they were working (in Palestine or here in Germany) to make a short movie about the projects, so people would see what we had accomplished in this exchange program.

Other groups showed what they achieved in different ways. The garbage team for example (Sondos, Ramsis, May and Dina) had actually baked some spoons made from bread, and they used a 3d printer to create a prototype, from which they build a mold. Then they used the mold to make the next version of edible spoons. And they had two kinds of flavored bread for people to taste!

Another great showcase of the work done on the projects is the live demo of the game that Basil, Jasmine and Moritz had made which amazed us all. It was a cultural exchange game, which would teach people about Palestine and Germany, it was not completely done. However, what was done of it was impressive and a lot people enjoyed trying it out for the first time.

The work of the refugee camp group (Al Amari group: Marios, Sarah, Renad, Sujood, Ali and Adham) was mostly done in workshops, so we showed their work in the video we made. In addition to that, they showed the posters and the maps they made in collaboration with the refugees in the workshops they had in Siegen University. The urban gardening team (David, Sarah, Yara and Ala`) also worked with the refugees, they had many workshops both in Palestine and in Germany, so we showed their work in the movie we had playing.

Finally the special needs group showed us the stickers they made and some photos of the work they did, which included putting up stickers in the streets, universities, shops and many places in Palestine and Germany, it was really nice to see how they had stickers and posters in multiple languages as well. In addition to that, they had many activities considering special needs people.

In addition to this week being full of happy and proud moments, it contained many sad heartbreaking moments for us as well. It was finally time to say our goodbyes. Goodbye to the people who made us feel welcomed and that we were between our families, goodbye to all the moments that made us laugh, goodbye to all the good experiences we got to enjoy in our month here in Germany that we couldn’t do in Palestine, and yes, goodbye to the super quick internet. It was not an easy thing to start preparing ourselves to leave after this month and after what we had in Germany with all the things we did there. As always we ended the week with a late visit to the river Sieg, it was our final destination each night before taking the last bus home. It used to be the place where we ate, talked, laughed, played cards, met people and drew many memories in our hearts for that “lovely” daily station.

Impressions / Final thoughts

“Yallah” exchange program has been a life-changing experience to all of us and at different aspects. What made it special that it was in such a developed country. Everything was totally new and different; the whole environment of Germany is so different from Palestine. The thing that made it also an opportunity where you can see, do and discover new things. Living a month away from home and family has also taught us how to be more independent, more outgoing and made us gain so much confidence. Moreover, this incredible experience was an opportunity to widen the perspectives and discover “new worlds”. It was also a great chance to meet people and share culture and thoughts.

We have no doubt that it was absolutely the most amazing experience we could have. What an experience this was. No words can describe this journey of discovery, fun, learning and personal growth with unforgettable lifelong memories.

Finally, we would like to thank the people who made this all possible. Our coordinators both at Birzeit University and at Siegen University, Dr. Iyad Tumar and Dominik Şubat (Al Mu`alim), our fellow German exchange students who opened up their hearts to all our actions, words and feelings, the Palestinian community in Germany who made us feel like we were in Palestine.  This month has engraved something special in our hearts and shaped a special part of our lives too.

#lifelong memories ♥
#lifelong love 😎😍🙈

Days 28 – 29 in Germany

Post by Laiana

28. August

So we were living our last two days in Siegen. We woke up around 9 am to cook our last meal which was Maqluba – traditional meal. We decided to go to Tiergarten to eat and spend our last days in green areas. So maqluba was done! And it’s time to tidy up the trip stuff. Ramsis drove us to Tiergarten… Suddenly, it began raining heavily! The weather wasn’t our ally on this day. We gave up and returned home with wet clothes. We began to eat our meal around 4 p.m. and it was delicious! Some smells from home ♥ Adham made a kind of sweet called Harrise it also traditional sweet in Palestine. After finishing eating, Sujood and I went on a tour around the region to say “Bye Bye Siegen”.
Around 10 pm, one of the Palestinian community in Siegen – Mr. Jebrin- came with his sons to say goodbye. After this time, most of us were packing their bags to leave Siegen on Monday.

29. August

“Time to say goodbye” unfortunately, we are going to leave Germany today. Most of us woke up early to buy the last stuff that we need. I was walking to Siegen city centre to say goodbye to the region. It was a sad moment to leave Siegen. Around 2 pm we were waiting the bus to bring us to the train station. Anke, David Amend and Dominik were there to say goodbye. The hardest feeling ever!! Then we took the train from Siegen to Cologne. The trip took around 2 hours… Thereafter we took another train to the airport… Ramsis was with us from the morning… he was our guide most of time… we met David Sturzi in Cologne to say goodbye too. Around 5 pm we were inside the airport.. at 7:38 pm our plane was ready to take off.

laiana

30. August

We continued our trip on the next day which was Tuesday. At 1:20 am the plane landed at Ataturk airport / Turkey. The second plane from Turkey to Jordan was at 2:30 am. We arrived Queen Alia Airport at 5:52 am. Sujood and Renad stayed in Jordan and the rest of us returned home. Karama border crossing and The Allenby Bridge were the most tiring road on the journey. After 23 hours of traveling.. Finally, we are home!

Days 25 -27 in Germany

Post by Ali

25. August

ali1As usual, we wake up in morning and have breakfast together at Sondos’ room, because we stored everything we bought there. Then, we went to the college to prepare for opening of the Fab Lab and as usual we bought coffee, as we can’t resist it while we walk by the shop and smell the coffee. I’ve been working on Al-Amari’s poster with Adham and one of the refugees, he was one of the refugees who attended the last workshop and he always says: “I want to help in anything“, also he said “I worked with Photoshop before”, so we asked him to help us on the poster, we hadn’t finished it that time because there were some words that needed to be translated into German, and we had to discuss the design with the others before printing it. I asked Jenny to translate them for me, and finally we printed it and pinned it to the wall beside the Fab Lab.
ali2 ali3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We attended the Fab Lab opening, they were talking in German, we couldn’t understand anything, but we were just looking to pictures trying to understand what they are talking about. We were waiting for Dominik to start talking as we thought he will talk in English, but unfortunately he didn’t. After they finished the presentations, we explained our project, people were listening well, and they liked our projects. Also, they were asking us what we study, and where we are from and so on.

ali4 ali5

26. August

ali6One of the Palestinian guys asked us to go and have fun in a park with a small river. It was a hot day so everybody wore short clothes. The park was amazing and it had a beautiful view, we had a lot of pictures there. Also, we saw the river which is not a natural one. We had a lot of fun until the sun disappeared and it started to rain heavily. Luckily the Palestinians had umbrellas in their cars, but unfortunately there weren’t enough of them, so we had to share them. We got back to cars and ate some cake and melon. Then we had lunch in Istanbul Sofra.

ali7

After that, we were in a farewell with the Palestinians as we had to leave in the next days. Then, we went to Laser Tag which is a gun with a laser and two teams against each other. Luckily, there weren’t any other teams to play with us, so we split up and played 3 Vs. 3, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in Germany, we were able to play a second round, but then we had to leave and catch the bus.
ali8

27. August

ali9We woke up earlier and went to Burger King to have breakfast, then we went to start buying the gifts for our families and friends. We hadn’t enough time, so we split up because everyone was looking for something different. As usual, we went to City Gallery, and met later after we finished. After that we went to walk around, we saw a small booth and a poster reading “Free hugs“, we were amazed about that, we were asking ourselves why do they give a free hugs to all, it was funny, and they asked us for a hug, but we refused because it was weird to give hugs to strangers.

 

ali10Ramsis invited us to eat food at his house. We all met at the city center to go there, but unfortunately we missed the bus, so we had to walk. While we were walking, we found a blueberry bush beside the road, it really tasted good. We ate fish and some of mashed potatoes, and the food was really good and delicious. Then we left to start preparing our luggage.

After we finished preparing our luggage, we played cards and Hamdia (one of the students who studies at Siegen University, we met her before, she’s kind and helpful) called us to meet and say goodbye before we left Germany, she brought us melon and chocolate, and we had a lot of fun.

Days 22 – 24 in Germany

Post by Basil

22. August

This is our 22nd day here. Germany has been great so far, but today was not about fun. Most of us worked on the projects. My project is a cultural exchange game, and I tried to work hard, since I feel the Germans are working more than me, because we are exploring Germany most of the day. The project is going very well; the Palestinian part is almost finished. Other projects also seem to be going very well. There was a meeting of some refugees with Al-Amari group today, and they were working on a map for new coming refuges which looks very nice.

23. August

On the 23rd day, we decided to do more exploring. At the beginning we went to cologne. We did some shopping and got some gifts for our families. But we have been to cologne before. We wanted to go somewhere new, so we went to Bonn. Bonn is a very nice city, Ramsis and his friend told us, that it was the capital of Germany back in the day. We also visited the University of Bonn. It looks old and nice, from the 18th century I think. Even their campus is very nice; it is large and looks like a park, with grass and people lying around. Maybe we could study there in the future. After seeing the University of Ramsis’ friend, we took a boat back to Cologne. The boat goes through the Rhine River, passing through wonderful scenes and several industrial areas. It was a lovely experience. After coming back to Cologne I realized that I have missed the hackathon. A hackathon is an event at the hackspace where many programmers work on the same project, and that project was our game. I left immediately and joined them (from the house, since our busses are crappy). They are pretty good at the hackspace, they added some cool things to the game. It’s very close to getting finished.

24. August

On the 24th day, we pretty much did nothing. Everybody is working on their projects; the garbage group went to some factory and is creating their first actual edible spoon. I hope it works out for them. And while they had to wake up at 6 am, we slept well. Today was quite boring; I guess I checked out the project. Now since Jasmin has her brother’s wedding coming up, the work is a bit less. But like most nights, we enjoyed sitting by the Sieg River. It’s crowded in the night because the atmosphere is very nice, especially when it is not very cold.

Days 16 – 18 in Germany

Post by Sondos

16. August

3D printed SpoonOur model of our first spoon was done today. I had a meeting at 11 am at the universities’ fab lab with my team mates Ramsis, Dina and May, Al Mua`llem (Dominik) printed us the 3D model for the spoon and it is ready now. It just needed to be a bit smoother (which Ramsis actually did using a knife). Before a couple of days, Ramsis, Mahmoud, May and me went to OBI (a hardware store) and bought silicon, a silicon gun and other materials that we might need. Then we needed to figure out how to use these materials beside the silicon with the gun.
We needed a box that fitted our spoon to put the silicon in and create a mold, so we could build the negative shape of the spoon. The “Amazing Ramsis” brought us some great and fresh ice cream, various fruit and some coconut. We finished all the ice cream and used the empty ice cream box. We built the mold for the spoon, but had to wait around 24 hours until the first part of the silicon cured. After that we would create the second part.

After university we had a meeting with a person which was working in a restaurant which was specialized in making fruit salads, ice cream, frozen yogurts, coffee and so on in Siegen. We talked with him about our idea of the edible spoons. He actually liked the idea and offered to buy some spoons from us, he would use them in his restaurant. He also asked us to make a mold of an edible cup, he would use it for ice cream, together with our spoon.  He wanted his logo on the spoon. Moreover, he allowed us to come to the restaurant and take videos or pictures if we wanted to. He was really interested in the idea of our work but honestly, we are conducting research and not a business, maybe when August ends we will come back to get some money from him :p
It was a long day, so we needed food (as always whenever there is food, Ramsis is the best to ask where to go) this time an Italian restaurant was our destination. After almost 2 and a half weeks in Siegen we should say that you can try any food from any country here, just take a tour in Siegen. There is a restaurant from every country around the world :p – but not an Arab one :p

17. August

sondos2I can make sure and say that this was the best day in the whole month and it was one of the best experiences in my life. It started at 7:30 in the morning; our generous German friends came to the dorm to drive us to Phantasialand. We left Siegen at 8:00 am, I was with Jasmin, and actually, I slept the whole road. We reached there and got our tickets at around 10:00am. The only sentence I can say about this day is that it was really worth every cent we paid for, we played almost 7 or 8 games. Waited almost an hour for every rollercoaster to get 20 seconds riding it, but it was really worth it. We stayed until 8:00 pm playing, shouting, eating, running from one rollercoaster to the next and reading the map wrong. Hahaha. We went also to the children’s part of Phantasialand by accident, because of the strange map which we couldn’t read.

sondos3Jasmin could not find her car when we finished. It took 10 minutes to find it because there were lots of cars and the only information that we had was that it is a dark blue Volkswagen car (any one can imagine how hard to find a car in Phantasialand with only this unspecific information available). We were exhausted when we reached home and slept directly.

18. August

One of the usual days here in Siegen. Nothing to do except going to university.
Our first part of the spoon mold is now done, the silicon has cured now and we can create the upper part. It was an easy job, all we needed is a plastic bag and silicon but now we have to wait another 24 hours so the whole mold is complete and we can try to make a bread spoon on Friday. We started checking and thinking of how to make a poster about our project for a presentation.
Lunch was in a Chinese restaurant with Ramsis. At almost 16:00 we had nothing to do, no work on the project and no other plans so me, Rand, Ali, Yara, Mahmoud and Basil bought some candy, chips and cola, then went to a park in Siegen and spend like 3 hours there taking photos and playing with the German kids. To be honest, parks here in Siegen are very beautiful, especially when the weather is nice, when there is food and friends. Parks are the best place to go to have a good time. The River is the last station of this usual day. Sitting next to the river for an hour talking, is so relaxing – but we had to leave at 11:00 to go back to the dorms. Here in Germany the most important thing is time. Time is really important, distracting, and accurate!
In addition, like every night we spent hours playing cards and eating German chocolate, which is really delicious. I am thinking of taking a million tons of chocolate back to Palestine.

sondos4 sondos5

Days 13-14 in Germany

Post by Adham

13. August

The Amari group (Sujood, Renad, Ali and me) met Marios at University to go to Dortmund. We decided to go there and offer some refugees in the refugee cafe a workshop on creating maps and how they can add interesting and important locations to create an interactive map. With a map like this they can help newcomer refugees to find their way around and make life easier for them.
When we arrived to Dortmund, nobody was there. There was a woman working in the refugee cafe who told us, that the refugees just went out. Probably because the weather was very nice and they would spent their time outside, rather than in the cafe.
We decided to go back to Siegen. On our way back, we went to a festival (a “Kirmes”) which was taking place in a town close to where Jenny lives (Wenden). We met with Jenny, Dina and May there. Some of us had some fun on the rides. Afterwards, Sujood, Marios, Ali and I went back to Siegen and the others stayed at the festival.

14. August

It is a beautiful morning and a sunny day. Before, we have met someone from Palestine who lives in Siegen. His name is Ashraf and he studies for getting his master degree at the University of Siegen. Through Sarah he already knew that we come from Palestine, too.

He told me the day before that he would take us for a hike in the forests of Siegen. On that day, Sujood, Laiana, Ala’a, Ramsis and I go with him to the forest. We are had a great time there.

Ramsis brought some food his mother prepared which was very delicious.

After finishing hiking, we came back to our dorms and Ramsis joined us. We were playing table tennis and smoke argelah (Shisha). After that, we went to sleep.

Days 10 – 12

Post by Yara

11. August

It was an ordinary day, we woke up in the morning, had our breakfast, went to the center of Siegen, then to the university, we spent some time there working on our projects, after that, we left to have our lunch and spent the rest of the day walking around the city!

12. August

In this day we planned to visit the Ruhr area. We started our journey at 9 o’clock to Bochum city by train, we arrived there around 11 o’clock and went to “Deutsches Bergbau Museum” (German Mining Museum). It was a wonderful museum that showed us how people were mining back in the day, we went deep underground, for 17 meters and saw the stuff they used, also, many models and pictures of the workers and the tools.

Deutsches Bergbau Museum
Deutsches Bergbau Museum

We left the museum around 2 o’clock to have our lunch. When we finished our lunch we left Bochum by train to Dortmund city to visit another museum. It was really interesting, one that showed us the development of different technologies such as printing. We printed a drawing on a paper using an old printer, we saw a model for a huge laptop, also a model of an AIRBUS cabin and many robots.

Robot in the Museum
Robot in the Museum

We stayed in the museum until it closed, then went to Dortmund city center where the football museum is and spent some time in the city before we went back to Siegen city.

13. August

We decided to go to Cologne but not all of us, we were 5 only. We went at 10 o’clock to the train but before going there we searched for places we can visit and we chose to visit a new Turkish mosque and a flower garden called “Botanical Gardens Flora”.
There was maintenance for the rail way so we changed the train many times and it took us more time to arrive in Köln, when we arrived there was a festival in the city so we went there and bought some souvenirs and ate traditional German food.

When we finished we went to the mosque and entered it.

The Mosque
The Mosque

After that, we saw a high tower, from which we would be able to see all of the city and so we searched for its’ entrance. While searching we found the public park and it was very huge and full of people who were just laying there or playing different sports, also, a restaurant which offered free food tasting so we stopped and tried the food! After all of this, we finally reached the entrance of the tower but it had a sign that read it had been closed since 1992!
Finally, we went to the botanical garden and it was really nice. We took a lot of photos and enjoyed our time!

On our way back to Siegen, we needed to change the train so we stopped in Hennef and Bonn and each time the train was late from his original time so we waited in the city for a while.

Days 1-3 in Germany

Post by Ala’a

1. August

YALLAH - Palestinian Students' arrival in GermanyIt’s 1st of August all of us, the Palestinian students, prepared our backs and we are ready to leave to Amman. We left Ramallah at 2:15 pm, the bus took us to Jericho, then we went to pay for the taxes, we pay 153 nis and 10 JD for the backs. Ok after that we took another bus from Jericho to the Palestinian authority checkpoint, were there we had to waite like one hour because there was another bus before us, ok it’s now 4 pm we drive to Jordan and we take our backs and luggages and we pay quarter JD, ok now we are looking for a taxi to drive us to the Queen Alia National Airport, and there is a Jordanian taxi driver who stuck to us to let us go with him but we refuse because of the higher price, but we negotiate with him and take three taxies for 60JD. Now we are arrived, it’s 8 pm now we should wait till 23:20 cause Dr. Iyad will come with us. Dr. Iyad comes and its 11:20, we are going to check-in our luggage and get our boarding passes.

2. August

Dorms at Engsbachstraße in SiegenIts start to reach 2:20am we hanging around till it reaches, now we are at the Turkish airplane. This is interesting for me cause it’s my first time. It’s time to put the seat belt on, everything is *alhamdullah* great, except how the guy in front of me and liana sits. If we do move or make any sound he starts to be mad, he spoiled my first flight. Now we are at the Turkish airport we have to move quickly to get the next plane which will get us to Cologne airport. Now,  we are at Cologne but this plane was worse than the previous. We are at Germany now and this is the best thing ever… The German guys are here to welcome us and drive us to Siegen to our dorms…
Ok, so we are at the dorms in Engsbachstraße 56 and 58. My dorm is at 56. Each one of us takes his keys and most of us are going to rest after the long trip. We decided to go at 6 pm to buy things that we need at the supermarket. Then go back to our dorms and sleep.

3. August

Today is 3rd of August and we decided to take a tour around Siegen. We take the wrong bus and it returned us back to our dorms. We then managed to take the right bus.