A Response to Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

by Mark Chmiel

I received this generous message recently from Sarah Nash, who is a sophomore at SLU.

Mark,

I’m not even sure where to begin this email!  I guess I could start with a huge THANK YOU. There are so many reasons why I am thankful for your presence in my life…

For organizing the sharing the wealth discussions
For our meeting at Cafe Ventana
For your honesty and insight
For writing The Book of Mev
For starting the SJP group at SLU
For giving Jason and me tickets to the Palestinian dabkeh group’s performance

But tonight, I am thankful for your “novel collage,” Dear Layla.

Even though you sent it to me over 4 months ago, I just started (and finished) reading it these past few days.

I can’t even begin to put into words how beautiful, eye-opening, inspiring, and transformative it was for me.  It was incredible to not only read about your journey, but to truly understand the thoughts, decisions, actions, and reactions before, during, and after your journey to Palestine.

After reading Dear Layla, I have a desire to travel to Palestine…to see with my own eyes, and to ease as much as I can, the daily struggles of the Palestinian people.  Struggles that I am so intricately involved in creating as a citizen of the United States.  It’s so safe and easy to be here and to join in solidarity with the Palestinian people over there, but I have such a desire to bridge that gap, to increase my understanding, and to somehow, someway be a force of change for the better.

I cannot wait to return to Saint Louis in August and to explore these ideas and so many more with you.

I hope you are doing well!

Thank you again, Mark.

Peace,

Sarah Nash

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