My name is Eliza Verena Norris and I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado where my family lives. I am currently living in Washington D.C. where I have the privilege to work on behalf of global human rights. My interest in the Middle East arose after my freshman year of high school when I had the privilege to join my father on the inaugural walk of the Abraham Path in the West Bank which brings together people of all faiths and backgrounds to walk through the historic and beautiful land of Palestine as part of the larger Abraham Path which winds through the Middle East. This experience inspired me to go back to the West Bank after my junior year of high school in 2010 where I spent a month working at the Tomorrow’s Youth Organization in Nablus.
Over the course of the month I was profoundly changed. I became deeply moved by the people of Nablus and the story of their city which has become woven into their cultural fabric and created a community that has fortified itself during periods of violence and alienation. That I was a young American high school student with very limited Arabic was not a factor for the Nabulsi people who kindly worked with me on my Arabic and invited me into their homes, taking care to make me feel at safe, welcome, and connected to the community in Nablus. I never once felt excluded or unsafe, rather I experienced a caliber of kindness I have yet to experience anywhere else in the world.
I am writing to ask to you to consider formally celebrating and acknowledging the relationship that has been established between residents of Boulder and Nablus. While the world is struggling with pervasive global violence, civil wars, and growing humanitarian crises, we must be increasingly vigilant to promote partnership and understanding between diverse groups and communities. Nablus has a long history of intercultural awareness and embracing diversity is embedded in the Palestinian culture and palpable in Nablus. This tradition mirrors that of Boulder, one of the many reasons I am proud to be part of our community. Please consider this letter my enthusiastic and sincere support of the Nablus-Boulder Sister City relationship.
Eliza Verena Norris
Agency for International Development (USAID)