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Maisam reflects on the final weeks of NSL

I cannot believe we’re almost half way through. Not because I don’t feel satisfied with what we accomplished so far, but rather because of this personal change I’m going through. It has been hanging heavily  on my nerves, that I think I need more time to comprehend. Now I realize that this program is much more than a fun summer in DC. It’s a filter for human emotions and attitudes towards conflict. I am witnessing a turning point in my life that might decide, or at least affect, the direction of my life as a young female leader.

We started the week by visiting the PLO mission. I had mixed feelings about this that are mainly coming from the fact that PLO is not operating in Gaza, therefore they are not representing me. On the other hand, I felt pride to be in an institution on which the Palestinian flag is proudly swaying with the summer breeze. We didn’t come out with only a productive and thought-provoking discussion, but also with a promise for further cooperation and support for our infant peace mission.

This visit was followed by a tour in the National Gallery of Art where America continues to teach us lessons of freedom and equality. I was literally walking through history. Not a perfect one, but one that is so great that can make you wonder, even act!

 

I had to deliver a speech at SAIS on Wednesday of that week. You can imagine the kind of stress I went through. Partly because of the time limit and partly, and most importantly, because I had to put new Maisam into few hundred words. At those times you can feel the true sense of friendship. Where everyone tries to make you feel better about your awful first draft. Friends who listen carefully and stay up late to help you perfect your speech. Wednesday morning was the time when I was supposed to impress the audience. My body wasn’t very friendly to me as it started shaking and I lost sense in many parts. As I stood facing people who looked very interested and obviously coming with high expectations, which made it even harder. I did great! I cannot believe it but I did it. Actually, one of the attendants told me that he greatly admires Obama and thinks that he is the best speaker ever but when he saw me speaking, he changed his mind! How amazing is that?!

The next day we went to Peace Now and ATFP who are two sister peace organizations who promote the two-state solution and proved by their impressive collaboration is that pro-Palestine does not necessarily anti-Israel and vice versa. It’s pretty amazing how we could do and learn so much away from home. Away from the conflict which proves that conflict doesn’t exactly help create a healthy environment for young ambitious minds. Now more than any time, I am more convinced of the urgent need to stop this conflict and start building a better atmosphere for us and the coming generations.