Saturday, November 18, 2017

Palestinian-American "Ramallah Convention" meets for the first time in Ramallah


By Haley Paladino - June 21, 2014
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Section: [Main News] [Culture]
Tags: [culture] [Ramallah]

This year, for the first time, the Ramallah Convention is taking place in Ramallah. The event is an annual meet-up for Ramallah-ites in diaspora. More than 1,000 American-Palestinians have descended on the West Bank this week for the occasion, taking place at the Movenpick hotel from June 19th to the 21st.

"They figured, you know what, let's go back to basics. We'll touch base here, because that is like a stepping-stone. If it all works out, good, they'll have more trips back and forth," said Mimi Hani, an American-Palestinian who is in town with her husband for the convention. 

The conventions have been an annual event stateside since 1958. Facilitated by the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine (AFRP), the purpose of these meet-ups is not only to maintain ties in the familiar American diaspora community, but also to facilitate meetings between the younger generations. 

The conventions usually last four days and consist of a variety of entertainment activities, shopping and fashion shows of traditional wear, group by-law meetings, tours of the local cities, and educational events focused on the history and culture of Ramallah. In the evenings they have dancing events with traditional Arabic music as well as American music for the younger generations.

In the last year, the group has incorporated speed dating into the event, as well. 

"It's not just the old folks that come to reconnect with their buddies from different states, they really want to focus on the young ones," said Hani. 

AFRP has its roots at Wayne State University in Detroit, where a group of American Palestinian students decided in 1952 to deepen ties with their fellow Ramallah-ites in diaspora in the United States. They formed a quarterly magazine, Hathihi Ramallah, to keep each other abreast of news in the community, such as births, weddings and divorces. Today the scope of the group is much broader, including charitable work in Ramallah and a scholarship for Palestinian-American students.  

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