Jason Kaufman, a high school student from Westchester, NY, has been volunteering in the ICCI office for the past few weeks, meeting with and interviewing individuals involved in various aspects of ICCI’s work. Here is his next interview, with Hiba Aliyan, an alumna of Face to Face currently working as a translator for the program.
I interviewed Hiba Aliyan, who has been involved with the ICCI since she was 15. She is now the program coordinator of ICCI’s youth programs (Face to Face) and is the interpreter for the current Face to Face group and camp in New York. She studies English and Spanish at the Hebrew University. She returned to Face to Face in 2006 as a leader in training, and then started working at the ICCI as an interpreter (between Arabic and Hebrew).
Hiba explained that her work at the Face to Face camp “never gets old,” as every year there is more or less the same conflict with entirely new students. She explained how it was interesting to see how each year’s students deal with the problems. Face to Face brings together students from Israel, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and the US. The aim of Face to Face is to bring students from regions with ethnic conflict. When I asked her how her work with Face to Face has changed her, she explained that it changed her the most as a child. She grew up in a primarily Jewish neighborhood but never had a Jewish friend. She said that she would talk to Jewish people on the street, but nothing serious. She explained how she went from knowing nothing to suddenly knowing a lot; from talking quickly on the street to sleeping in cabins together at camp. She found the initial impact to be the strongest.
Hiba referenced one anecdote that stands out in her memory. Before leaving on her first trip to the US when she was 15, she had become closest with the Jewish students on the trip. When she and her friends reached security in Ben Gurion airport, she had a much harder time getting through than her friends. Hiba revealed that she felt that she wanted to cry and was confused at what was happening. She was confused at why she, like her friends, possessed Israeli citizenship but was not allowed to cross with them.