Interview with Wasim by PM ’24.
Wasim is a true modern day renaissance man. He is a husband, a father of three, works not only in an importing/exporting business with his brother but also as a teacher of modern Arabic. Wasim grew up in the old city of Hebron, the second largest city in the West Bank, during the 70s with four brothers and four sisters. Wasim went on to study pharmacy in Heidelberg, Germany for just two months before returning to work with his brother in Palestine. Wasim’s education in a foreign country and his work with international students of Arabic have given him a view of the world that sets him apart from others in Hebron. As Wasim looks to the future, he believes the future of his children lies in the hands of God, or as he says himself is “written in the book of the sky”. Wasim talks extensively about the Muslim belief in naseeb, or destiny, as well as how his love for teaching came to him when he was only in the seventh grade.
I grew up in the old city of Hebron. We lived near the Abraham mosque. My father was a tailor and my mother a housewife. And my father used to isolate us from the from playing in the street of the quarter because he said you should learn how to be polite with people, and he used to send us to a school near his store, rather near the quarter where we lived.
I travelled to Germany to study pharmacy. I got an admission to Heidelberg University. In this time, my brother, the engineer, used to send me money to cover my expenses. My brother told me, “This is the last month I can send you money because I am now in debt.” So I decided to leave the university and return to Hebron.
Palestine is not for a specified religion or a specified people. The control on Palestine circulates between Muslims, Jews and the Christians. Jews who were living in Hebron before 1948 were living peacefully with the Muslim community and were exchanging cooked food every now and then.
Now Hebron is divided into two parts. About one fourth of the surface area of Hebron district – Hebron city – is under the Israeli control. The remaining part is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
I started working in the French-German Cultural Center but I didn’t like the work, I was always thinking about teaching. When I was in the seventh grade, I started teaching the children of my eldest sister. They were weak in Arabic and I was at the top of my class. I felt at that time, I like this very much. They sometimes have difficulties in science. One day I revised the lesson of science with my nephew. He said to his mother, “My uncle Wasim is better than our teacher.”
In the cultural center, a teacher came to teach advanced level Arabic for a group of foreigners. They were disappointed by this man. I told them I can teach Arabic if you like. So I taught them Arabic and they said, “Excellent!” By this I started teaching Arabic as a foreign language.
I have a German student who learn Arabic with me since five years. He asked me what is the nature of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I said to him, “clashes happen with settlers and the inhabitants of the city of Hebron. You could see negative and positive attitudes on the Israeli side as well as negative and positive attitudes on the Palestinian side.”