“When the war started, all I could think of was my school. I was so afraid that the school would be harmed. Eventually, that’s exactly what happened. My school is on the border, so walking to school can get really scary. A rocket or bomb could hit anytime and anywhere.” — Ali Salem Al Batniji, 16, Gaza

The Importance and Fragility of Education in Palestine

Throughout Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian children are returning to school for a new academic year. Despite walking through rubble or blistering heat, the kids are excited to learn and be with their friends again. But these children are nervous, too: nervous that their schools could be demolished, nervous that they could be forcibly moved away from their schools, even just nervous that their schools could lose power or internet.

It is the hope that comes with education that drives these students. Many, like Zena Abdelwahed, excel and dream of changing their world. Others, like Aya Ismail—an undergrad at Tufts University in Massachusetts—know the hard work that such success requires and come home to encourage even more young Palestinians to follow in their footsteps.

These students are not just learning how to improve their world, their perseverance through war and poverty can itself be the solution to those very problems.