Purposeful travel is life-changing. The more we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t know. Having traveled with Qalam/DST before, I thought I knew what to expect on this trip but after going I realized that nothing prepares you for the sights you see when you visit Al Aqsa. We spent 7 days in this beautiful city and saw a lot of historic places but my favorite part of the trip was hearing the adhan for Fajr while walking through the Old City to Masjid Al-Aqsa for the first time. It was the same feeling of anticipation I had my first time seeing the Kaabah and to know how much of a privilege it was that I was given the opportunity to pray where our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once led all the other Prophets in prayer. This Qalam/DST trip was a lot more emotional than I had expected it to be; seeing the Palestinian people who despite being born and raised there, are forced to live like prisoners in their own hometowns, sent away to live in refugee camps on their own land. They’re being denied access to their homes, their mosques, their city, and are restricted by zones and walls. Leaving Jerusalem brought tears to my eyes as I heard the adhan one last time and couldn’t help but cry for the Palestinian people who despite all of the struggles they are facing, still have hope in their eyes and smiles on their faces. We were welcomed by the locals with great hospitality and of course, no trip to Jerusalem is complete without fresh kunafeh every day. The Qalam/DST experience to Al-Aqsa was incredible. Travelling with your teachers is always a humbling experience and I look forward to our next trip together.

-By Sr. Sadia