Guy Benintendi and Barbara Hanst spent two weeks in Nablus in April, 2012.

The always helpful Zeina Ramadan trying on a fez in a local shop.

The delegation set out with, and met, the following objectives:

  • strengthen connection with friends in Nablus,
  • make new friends,
  • learn more about what they might like from a sister city relationship,
  • find electronic pen pal opportunities for secondary school students,
  • find university educators who wish to connect students with CU students,
  • get to know their lives and culture
  • learn what needs they may have with healthcare

Barbara Hanst and Guy Benintendi with Abed Aker, Director of the International Relations Department of the Nablus municipality.


Saed Abu-Hijleh, Professor of Political Geography at An-Najah University with Barbara and Guy

For me, the highlight of the trip was experiencing Palestinian hospitality. The people we met went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. They invited us into their homes, spoiled us with wonderful Middle Eastern food, helped us accomplish our goals, and integrated us into their lives in a seamless way.

One of the aspects I love about Arabic culture is the way the people approach task accomplishment. In the West it’s typical for people to decide what needs to be done, make a plan for accomplishing it, and then spend their time implementing the plan. Consequently people’s attention at any given moment is on what they need to be doing, a mental checklist of sorts.

The marketplace in Old Town Nablus

In the Middle East things don’t work that way at all. People think more in terms of relationships, and less about tasks. They are more ‘in the moment’ with their attention on other people and opportunities. Because we were in their culture we were in this flow as well. There’s a real magic to it. For example, on those occasions when an appointment would get cancelled at the last minute, invariably another would arise. Our attention wasn’t so much on what we had to get done; it was more on what opportunities we could make from the possibilities that arose.

More Photos from the trip:

Balloon Diplomacy at a Nablus hospital

Naseer Arafat, a Nabulsi architect, with Barbara



Pre-school at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization




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