More than half of the Palestinian population lives outside of Palestine, a division that speaks to the overwhelming hardship its people have endured. These Palestinians are spread around the globe living in the diaspora, and, due to this separation, many of the younger generation are left knowing little about their heritage. 

Through the program Know Thy Heritage (KTH), HCEF seeks to help close the gap on this divide by inviting youth from the diaspora to visit their homeland and learn about their culturally rich past. Many of the youth who make the journey from their respective countries (which have so far included the U.S., Canada, Chile, France, the UK, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Australia) are stepping onto the soil of Palestine for the first time. During their stay in Palestine they are taken throughout the country and exposed to important figures who teach them about the current struggles Palestinians face, but also about the vibrant history that bonds Palestinians together in their efforts.

The youth are given the chance to live their heritage by dining on Palestinian cuisine, learning traditional dances, listening to folk songs, and taking part in other various cultural activities all over the country. They are also able to engage directly with Palestinians whose families have continued to remain in their land in spite of the strife they face each and every day, remaining steadfast and hopeful.

HCEF recognizes that the hope by which so many Palestinians strive, along with their sympathetic supporters, rests in the nation's youth. The youth must know their heritage today, so that together they can know what they stand for in the struggle for a unified Palestine. The diaspora youth who visit Palestine through KTH are designated "delegates" because ultimately the mission of these Palestinians is to take what they learn and represent Palestine in their respective homes abroad, spreading the country's message as "Ambassadors of Peace."

Those who attend HCEF's 15th International Conference will have the chance to listen to the testimonies of the KTH delegates who participated in the program over the summer. These include Naya Aldias, Marketing Events Manager, BVLGARI; Sohad Murrar, Doctoral Candidate, Social Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Lina Barkawi, Systems Integration Consulting Analyst, Accenture Federal Services. 

The delegates will talk about what motivated them to go, what they expected out of the trip, and how they may have been surprised by what they saw. They will also discuss how they are involved in working for Palestine today. You do not want to miss the stories of these young Palestinians who are bound to inspire greater hope in us all for the future of Palestine! To learn more about these and other speakers, please visit our Speakers' Bios page. Be sure to come see and hear them speak on Saturday, October 19th in Washington D.C.

If you are a Palestinian youth who would like to join KTH next summer, or if you are just curious to learn more about the program and other ways of involvement, such as sponsoring a youth's trip, please visit the KTH webpage.

Also, if you are a youth, don't miss the Palestinian Hafla on Saturday night which is being hosted by alumni of the KTH program. Click here for more details, and click here to register!

Registration is now open for HCEF's 15th International Conference at the Washington Marriott in Washington D.C. on October 18-19! If you haven't yet, we invite you to register today!

To learn more about HCEF's 15th International Conference & Awards Banquet, and to register, please click one of these helpful conference links below.