I realize it is a while since I ve written. But I made a unilateral decision. Some days it took me up to 3 hours to just post one photo – dodgy wireless – and me technologically challenged – I was getting frustrated. I came all this way to be with the children – they are without a violin and cello teacher this year, and I felt it was much more important to spend time with them – so this comes a few days late, but it is just as real. And perhaps more considered having had the opportunity to reflect on what I was experiencing too.

These few weeks in Palestine have really changed me.

After a full week of intensive rehearsals – both the Ramallah Orchestra, and the Youth Orchestra were ready to perform, but this was the least of their challenges.

The first day of concerts was to be in Jerusalem. Many of the children had never been there before – permits, requested well in advance, are required (and not necessarily given – if the children are allowed, their parents may be denied, and vice versa), and then there is the not so small matter of negotiating the checkpoints.

We approached Qalandia checkpoint – one of the largest. As foreigners, we could have easily stayed in the bus, but all of us – local/international teachers and film crew, got off with the children in a gesture of solidarity. From a covered, dark, depressing area, aromatic, and garnished with only a few seats, we waited first in a narrow corridor of metal bars. At intervals, some of us were allowed through the next turnstyle, accompanied by some shouting in Hebrew – none of which I of course understood. We went one by one, through the screening area, holding up our passports against a window until we got permission to pass through.

Somehow I felt accused, but I know not of what. We waited on the other side until all of us came through.