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HOLY LAND – In recent weeks, many schools in the Holy Land have had the traditional Graduation Ceremony conferring graduates’ diplomas. Graduate students of Schmidt School Jerusalem and schools of the Latin Patriarchate of Taybeh, Ramallah, Nablus, Birzeit, Reneh, Jaffa and Nazareth will now seek to enter the job market. Ambition to search is far from evident for those graduates who live in cities with complicated economic and geopolitical contexts.

In all, 231 students obtained the cherished diploma at the hands of various clergy like Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Bishop Giacinto Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, or Father Iyad Twal, Director General of the Latin Patriarchate schools.

After graduating, alumni naturally seek to find work in the economic and often difficult geopolitical conditions. In Taybeh, economic opportunities are scarce or nonexistent. The same goes for other Palestinian cities. More generally, in a recent report written for the 50th anniversary of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, the Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (CCFD-Terre Solidaire) explains, “being Palestinian is to be subjected to continuous pressure. It is living, day after day, traumatic events: expanding settlements, military incursions, roadblocks, arrests, detentions, house demolitions, poverty, and unemployment. The feeling of insecurity and frustration are permanent, exacerbated by the lack of future prospects.” For Palestinians residing in Jerusalem, nothing is less certain. According to the same report, 3,000 adults lose each year their Jerusalem residency card, confiscated by the state of Israel. Consequently, these more complicated conditions don’t allow for a graduate student to regard the future with serenity.

However, these graduations are always an opportunity for the Latin Church to celebrate. Indeed, because of the high student dropout rate in Jerusalem – 40% of children leave school before age 17, without qualifications or training, says the CCFD-Terre Solidaire – due to lack of classrooms, refusal of parents to send their children to study in the Palestine Territories because of checkpoints and the risk of losing their residence permits, poverty. A student leaving school with a diploma is always good news and an opportunity for everyone to find a little comfort in this new stage of life.

Vivien Laguette

Pictures of the different graduation ceremonies


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