Saturday, March 24, 2012

We are Friends

Text by Will N. '12 and photos by John G.

I will definitely remember today (Thursday, 3/22) for the rest of my life. It was one of those days that was so long and so full that it felt like at least two days, if not three. We toured Bethlehem, where among other things we visited the Church of the Nativity. We also toured Hebron, an experience which I will certainly never forget. Of all the places we’ve visited, it was in Hebron that I could see most tangibly the effects of the conflict in this region. Makeshift barriers closed off networks of streets. Waist-height barriers split deserted streets down the middle. A religious site was physically split into a synagogue and a mosque. Truly, I think one has to see Hebron to feel the full weight of the place and of the conflict.

On the same day as this intense visit, and halfway into a trip full of visiting and looking and observing, it was a welcome release to do something tangible: to write on the separation wall.

We had driven to a spot of the wall covered with artwork. Many of the enormous murals were beautiful and uplifting, and I felt bad painting over parts of them. But we found some free spots, and went to work. It was truly exhilarating. And I have to say, it was one of the most “Friends”-like experiences I’ve ever had. We were all painting messages of hope and peace, and beyond that I was moved by how much we were supporting each other, both metaphorical and literally: Not only did we cheer each other on and applaud each other’s handiwork, but I actually lifted Rose up on my shoulders so she could find space to write. I also wrote my own message; after much internal debate, I decided to write the phrase that kept coming to my head: “WE ARE FRIENDS.” And walking away in the sunlight, with empty spray-paints cans in hand and classmates at my side, I really did felt that these words were true.