The cultural exchange program

The program was started in 1998 in cooperation with Bethlehem Link in the United Kingdom and in 1999 with the Norwegian Union of Social Workers. Since then the Center has sent a group of children almost every year from the Hakaya group to represent Palestinian Culture and introduce a new image of the Palestinians around the world. In 2012 Ghirass started a partnership with Leicester Friends of Bethlehem, and the Hakaya group has attended international festivals in France in 2000 and Belgium in 2015. Each trip included performances of Palestinian folklore (Dabkha dancing, singing, and drumming) by the Hakaya group. The group usually consists of 20 members (12 dancers, 4 singers, the trainer, the musician, and the leader).

The trips to the UK and Norway open the children’s eyes and give them a real insight into western culture. By living in the homes of the host families, eating different food, and listening to different music, Ghirass members feel that they are privileged to learn about the culture from the inside rather than only by observing customs and traditions from the outside.