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Jia Jia

Art by Joan Nelson

Today is the third day I am in Israel,
this is the first time I am in this country, I am in mid east.
today is the first time I have encountered Palestinians.

Before today, I had only imagined what all of this might be through news, through films, through stories.

I was a bit shy at the beginning, seeing so many new events at the same time. But the sweet thing was, a lovely girl came up to me, held my hand led me closer to the sea, pointing at it, looking at me through her large brown eyes, she asked, "painting?!"

Right there and then, I held her and told her in a language she probably does not understand, "yes, it is a painting, a painting of reality."
The sea was warm, clear, the air smelled of humidity, salt, grass, every breath we all took together brought us closer together; I felt the water imagined what it must felt if I was feeling it for the first time, as the most of them, the Palestinians from the parts that has water shortage, that is so near but so far from the sea.

Women with proper attire, with such dignity and elegance, played in water, they laughed at each other while some of them became clumsy, not knowing how to handle the sea as each wave came, they allowed themselves to be free and be carried through each movement. The sun shined onto their faces, as they felt the water running through their fingers and toes...

A particular little one distracted me, she was in a powerful small body, with strong chubby legs, a sweet tummy sticking out, she looked afar into the sea and her surrounding with such depth in her eyes, as if she has so many questions asking the world...

"Where do we belong?
Who am I?
What is the message of life?
Why is the sea blue, why does it make such movements?"

With such trust and independence, she slowly learned about her confidence and connection to the sea.

Someone swam by, touched her little hand, "Alma!"

Her name is Alma.

Through my imagination of her mind and heart, I felt a connection toward her...
Today, I saw all of them, all of you in your eyes and through your action, our action... courage, sympathy, curiosity, happiness, frustration, stories, and especially a desire to interact and connect.

I am so thankful to have been a part of this day, this project, I do know this has shaped my view on the humanity, the world differently...
Gratefulness and togetherness are what's in my heart as I write, as I think back to this beautiful experience that I will never forget.

Tel Aviv
26August 2015