Early that morning, Antwan gladly lined up for roughly two hours to gain admittance to the venue. The location originally was supposed to be in Ramallah, but the venue was still undergoing work, forcing the organizers to relocate to the state-of-the-art Convention Palace in Bethlehem. The move did not deter the mass numbers who attended from all over the occupied Palestinian territories.
Excited by the first ever TEDx event to take place in Palestine, OneVoice (OV) caught up with Antwan and asked him to offer his reflections on the event.
OV: Was it important for OneVoice Palestine to attend the event? Why?
ANTWAN: I went to TEDxRamallah to represent OneVoice and out of personal motivations. It’s important for OneVoice Palestine to attend TEDxRamallah because as a movement we work within civil society, at the grassroots level, encouraging each and every individual to play a role in defining their future. Similarly, the goal of TEDxRamallah was to inspire the civil society of Palestine. It is important that we support movements with goals that complement those of OneVoice Palestine.
OV: Was it important for you, personally, to attend TEDxRamallah? Why?
ANTWAN: In the past, I’ve attended conferences that aimed to inspire and teach me, but they were always abroad or held by internationals. For the first time, I was able to attend a conference where my own people were telling the inspiring stories. It was a new experience for me to finally be inspired by Palestinians who are known to be successful and have lived in the same difficult situation as myself.
OV: Name a highlight that left an impression on you from the event. Why did it leave an impression?
ANTWAN: The highlight for me was listening to Suad Amiry's closing speech. Her story of how she became a writer by accident at the age of 55 emphasized her point that you should always do what you love in life. She studied architecture and founded the Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation. Yet, at 55, she discovered that she had a passion for writing to inspire and encourage her people and bring stories about their humanity to the world. She was not afraid to follow her passion, even in the face of adversity. Without a doubt, her story inspired me to always follow my passion, especially in my quest to improve the situation for my people. I’d love to see more speakers like her.
OV: Was the event impactful for you? How?
ANTWAN: Now I have more confidence that there are great and inspiring Palestinian stories to share, not only on a political level, but from everyday people living in Palestine. I came away with a deep sense of belief that we, Palestinians, will end the Israeli occupation through nonviolent activism, and gain our internationally backed right to self-determination and statehood. I can’t wait for next year’s TEDx.