A teenager who spent three months in Palestine and Israel hopes to speak about his experiences to school pupils now he is home.
Jacob Boswall, 19, from Deeping St James, travelled to the Middle East to work with Karama, a non-governmental organisation that offers a safe haven for women, children and adolescents.
He spent two months living in the Deheishe Refugee Camp in the West Bank, working with Karama and learning about the conflict between Palestine and Isreal.
Jacob then travelled to Israel to get a different perspective on the conflict. He said it was important to experience both sides, adding: “You can’t be in Palestine without feeling the effects of the occupation. There are police everywhere. Mostly young men going around with machine guns.
“Things like breathing in tear gas are not experiences you have every day.”
Jacob added: “I was in an environment that was very one-sided. By the end I decided to leave the camp and travel around Israel to get some of their perspectives.
“A lot of people there are scared of Palestinian people and haven’t set foot in a refugee camp.”
Having seen both sides of the conflict, Jacob said it was important to keep an open mind about what was going on.
He said: “My stance, while overall sympathetic towards Palestine because of the occupation and settlement policy, is appreciative of the two-sided nature of the conflict. A denial of one side or the other is small-minded and doesn’t help anyone.”
Now that he is home, the former Uppingham School pupil wants to share his experiences with as many people as possible. He has already arrange to work with the primary schools in his home village of Deeping St James, along with his former school in Uppingham. He will also give a talk at the Priory Church over the summer.
But he is keen for any school or club that wants to hear about his experiences to get in touch.
He said: “Sadly not enough people know about the conflict. I think If anything I brought back the idea of not taking sides too much.”
He added: “A lot of my friends have been interested. I’ve been around telling them about my trip, and I think that’s important. If I can enlighten even one person then that’s a good thing.”
Jacob will go on to study Arabic at the University of Oxford in September. He has also written a blog at www.stepaline.wordpress.com.
If you would like Jacob to speak about his trip, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org