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James Bright, a former student at Lancaster, has recently returned from Palestine where he had been volunteering for three months.
Bright, who graduated in 2011 with a B.A. in Politics and International Relations, attended Palestine as part of the government-funded International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme. ICS’ mission is to “combat poverty and oppression” and has a number of overseas partners. The scheme focuses on three main areas, “sustainable livelihoods, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health.”
The ICS’ Palestinian partner on Bright’s excursion was the Sharek Youth Forum, a “leading independent, non political and impartial youth organization” who build upon and invest in the “capacity of young Palestinians so that they may take on a leadership role in developing society.”
During his experience in Palestine, Bright spent time leading English Language and career development workshops for Palestinian youths, along with being involved in a National Youth Summit. He and his team also spent time travelling, visiting some renowned locations such as that of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Talking about his experience, Bright commented that “being part of the ICS scheme in Palestine was an incredibly rewarding experience” allowing him “to work with some great people and learn a great deal, whilst making a difference to people’s lives.”
He stressed that although the experience as a whole was a positive one, “it was often hard living with people less fortunate […] and being witness to the political situation in the region.”
“The Palestinian people were amongst the warmest I have ever met” he continued, “despite living under occupation and having their rights violated on a day to day basis.”
Bright urges “anyone who can to visit the country, and to be part of the ICS scheme.”
The ICS Volunteering Scheme is open to those aged 18-25 and according to the website, “the Government has recently awarded a contract for 7,000 volunteer places over the next 3 years.” The first placements this year depart in June, for more information visit: http://www.internationalservice.org.uk/