Thursday, March 22, 2012

HCEF reinvigorates Palestinian national identity among youth in the Diaspora through hands-on education

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Chiara Cardone
March 22, 2012                                                      Tel: 301-951-9400 ext. 206

HCEF reinvigorates Palestinian national identity among youth in the Diaspora through hands-on education

Bethesda, MD/News Release – The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) announced this week that they have 20 additional spots open for youth in their “Know Thy Heritage” summer leadership  program which seeks to reinforce American Palestinian links to their homeland.

Officials of HCEF, the largest Christian Palestinian organization in the West, said they expect to send a contingent of 50 Palestinian youth to Palestine during a two week period beginning July 6, 2012.

Sir Rateb Y. Rabie, co-founder of HCEF, said that there is an “education gap” in what mainstream Americans, including those of Palestinian descent, know about Palestine, and a need to educate Palestinian children raised in Western countries like the United States so they can be more effective voices for peace.

“Participating in the Know Thy Heritage program is probably the most important step that Palestinian youth in the Diaspora can take to better understand the challenges facing their heritage and become frontline advocates for accurate information about Palestinians and achieving peace,” Rabie said.

“While in the 15 day program, the youth delegates visit all the towns and areas of historic Palestine, and gain a personal understanding of its history, traditions, cuisine, art, music, religions, society, politics, economics and business advancements. They meet with a wide range of leaders and experts in Palestine.”

Rabie said that last year, HCEF sponsored 33 youth delegates, all of Palestinian heritage, who spent part of their summer in Palestine in the program. This year, Rabie said, HCEF hopes to send 50 students to participate in this important heritage learning experience.

“They were young men and women, Muslim and Christian, and last year came from 13 different American states. They are children of parents who came to America from Ramallah, Birzeit, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, Gaza, and other villages and cities of historic Palestine. Parents can talk about the importance of Palestine and their heritage but nothing brings the youth to a clearer understanding of what it means to be Palestinian than to participate in a program like this.”

Rabie said for most of the youth, it was their first and only visit to Palestine.

This year, the program will be held from July 6 through July 21.

“We want them to discover their country and cultural heritage, and to strengthen their links with the land of their ancestors,” Rabie said.

Rabie said the program has been expanded and currently 30 candidates have already been approved, originating from not only the United States but also Canada, England, Australia, and France. An additional 20 positions are still open for applicants, Rabie said.

Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 25. If you are interested in participating, you can go online and request an application the Know Thy Heritage. Instructions and complete information can be found on the KTH webpage. Click here

HCEF also hosts an internship program in Palestine where interns work alongside community and business leaders to gain firsthand experience and a detailed understanding of Palestine’s needs and potential.

For more information about these programs, contact, or call Chiara Cardone, KTH Program Coordinator at (301) 951 9400 ext. 206. To learn more about HCEF, visit

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Know Thy Heritage
Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation
6935 Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 518
Bethesda, MD 20815
Chiara Cardone, Program Coordinator
Tel: 301-951-9400 ext. 206
Fax: 301-951-9402