Intern Journal: Walking Club

Last week, Leila and I took our Fitness class on our second walking club through Nablus. In general, it would be fair to say that Nabulsi women do not walk merely for the sake of walking. Walking is for when you have to get somewhere and can't take a taxi. While our first walking club two weeks ago was ended by an unfortunate downpour, this week the heat of middle eastern spring was just shy of becoming too warm. We wandered to a nearby park, took a rest under the welcome shade of tree, then took a longer route back to TYO chatting all the way.

March 21st is Mother's Day in Palestine, and women dropped off one by one from our walk, some saying their mother lived nearby and they had to go see them. I took a moment to text my mum back in England to wish her Happy Pali Mother's Day.

One of the fun aspects of walking club is that I can talk to the women one on one or in small groups – translation usually needed! One participant, Jinan, told me that she likes to walk at least 30 minutes a day. She could speak a little English because she studied Finance at An Najah University, she told me. And, six of her textbooks were in English. She's married, with three kids: 'khallas' she said, - it's enough. I agreed that three sounded like a good number, having grown up with two siblings myself.

After a steep climb arriving back at the TYO centre, Leila and I set off with one of our students – Hanan, to have lunch at her house. It was such a treat. Delicious stuffed vine leaves and stuffed courgettes, salads, luminous pickles, bread, tea, kanafeh, and fruit, piled high. Plate after plate of amazing food that had no doubt taken hours to prepare. I was full after three platefuls, but managed five, as with typical Arab hospitality Hanan generously refilled my dish with sometimes ten stuffed vine leaves at a time despite attempts at polite protestation. We were even given kanafeh (local cheese topped with semolina and sugar syrup) to take home, on top of the three we'd just eaten.

We met some of Hanan's children, neighbours, and saw beautiful photos from her wedding day. At this time, I realised that she had been married fifteen years, had five kids, but was only six years older than myself. After a thousand shukrans (thanks), we rushed home in a happy quasi food coma to give our afternoon classes.

If I were a calorie counter, I'd say we had consumed about three times as many calories as we'd burned on Monday. But we certainly enjoyed it. Looking forward to teaching this week's kickboxing and yoga class to burn off all this sugar!

- Mathilda

Mathilda is an intern at TYO Nablus.