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Maram Abu Sa'da '16

My name is Maram AbuSada. I am 22 and I am an intern for 6 weeks in the Catholic Charities of West Virginia. I am staying with my lovely host mom Sister Mary Palmer in Wheeling. While I come from a small town called Beit Sahour. It is the place where the shepherds saw the star that guided them to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Yes! I am from the Holy Land, Palestine! I study in Bethlehem University majoring in Accounting and minoring in business. I went to South Korea as an exchange student for 6 months. That was a super amazing and life changing experience. And here I am having another experience in the USA. I hope it's going to be fruitful. I will be writing about my experience every two weeks. Follow me to be updated. Just keep in mind that people here are funny. They say that Wheeling is a small city but it is 6 times bigger than Beit Sahour! That means I have a lot to talk about!

Here we go, 2 weeks since I came here to do my internship and I am more than happy. For the first week it was an orientation week which was in Washington DC. Where I met so many people, each of them had a story to tell. Some told us about poverty in the US. Others were interesting in telling how beautiful is the state that she/ he comes from. Whereas, the most important story for us as Palestinian ambassadors was and will stay the Palestinian issue and how to show people that we are humans and we really want simple needs: to live, love and to be loved! To be more confident to talk about our cause in the US, we met the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) delegate- Moueen Erekat who encouraged us to keep the faith in our cause and told us about problems we might face in USA as Palestinians.

Away from politics, the catholic charities wanted us to have fun too. We visited the Franciscan Monastery that made all the building from inside looks like Churches in the Holy Land. It felt like home in a different part of the world. Moreover, we went for a tour in DC where I had the opportunity to see things I have seen on TV only, like the memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the white house and even the president Obama -disregarding it was from a far distance! Like who could imagine that I will be able to visit these places? Isn’t it a blessing?

Not away from DC, I came to West Virginia to start doing my internship with the Catholic charities. The day after arriving here, we had a fundraising event in the Greenbrier where we needed to drive 5 hours from Wheeling, going through the capital Charleston and be in the Greenbrier by 3:30 pm. In the event, I met so many wealthy people that I forgot their names! But one name I kept asking about until I memorized it! It is Joe Manchin. He is the senator and the ex governor of West Virginia. He was elected to be the governor for two times: in 2004 and in 2008. I took a picture with him and felt happy. I really wanted to talk with him since he already came to the Occupied Palestine in 2014. I had much more to tell him than just where do I come from. But time and weather didn't help. He was in hurry and it was a rainy day. So, Senator Manchin if you are reading this, I invite you and your wife to have a dinner together. It might not be a fancy dinner but I can cook tasty Palestinian food! ;) I might not be a well political speaker like you since your father and uncle were in the political stream since the day you were born. But I can tell about simple stuff like how we Palestinians live. Because I believe that a person, who was elected as a governor by his people for two times, will have the ability to change the opinion of so many people about Palestine. I really want people to accept that I am from Palestine not Pakistan! And I want them to know that I am from Bethlehem Palestine not Bethlehem Pennsylvania just like what a woman in the event thought. Just some basics!

From here and there, my supervisor Patti Philips was always trying to fill my schedule to have a great experience and have fun in the same time. She is doing it perfectly! We went to Charleston to prepare to another event, we finished the meeting, had a rest, and the next day we drove to Hinton to visit an educational summer camp that the Catholic Charity is partnering with other people from Hinton. We checked what things the camp needs, talked with principles there, played with kids, had lunch, and by the end of the tour a worker asked us if we want to have water rafting in “The New River”. It was one of my dreams. And my dream just came true! It has a wide green space where you can hear the voice of birds, and feel the breeze touching your cheeks. It is just a place to have a rest from the other busy-side of the world. Isn’t it just amazing?

 

Bethlehem University Foundation
Email: brds@bufusa.org
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
E-mail: info@bethlehem.edu
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine