On my way to the Middle East

Yesterday I found out i’ve been accepted to go on a study tour of the Middle East in January and February next year.

I’m pretty excited. The study tour is run by APHEDA – Union Aid Abroad. From talking to a few people who have been previously it’s going to be a real positive experience.

The focal part of the study tour, as I understand it so far, is projects which APHEDA is involved in in these countries, like with Palestinian refugees in Beirut, as well as meeting trade union and political delegations, like Israeli workers’ organisations.

I think there’ll be around a dozen of us going, including some NSW Parliamentarians and union delegates from around the place. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be the only Greens member on the trip, which should make it pretty easy to caucus when things come down to a vote.

We’ll be going to Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. I’ve never been to the Middle East before, let alone any of these countries.

Years ago, when I was making my way back from Europe to Australia, I did consider for a while going via Egypt and visiting the pyramids, the Sphynx, etc. I have a bit of a thing for old semi-religious structures, probably from watching the Indiana Jones movies way too many times.

This is the main reason I initially went to Cambodia, to visit Angkor Wa, etc, but once I was there I found myself falling in love with the people and my fondest memories are of the time I spent with them.

I’ll be doing my best to keep a completely open mind about where I go and who I meet. I have a healthy scepticism about politicians and the media (yes, I know, slightly ironic for a communications adviser to a politician…). I also have a tendency to not accept things at face value (i.e. argue with everyone about everything), so I’m looking forward to challenging my preconceptions and the way I look at the world, and maybe those of some others too.

I’m planning to blog the process from now until I return – constructive tips, comments, ideas, etc always welcome.

Tomorrow I have to go to the post-office to pick up my new passport. Surely the photo can’t be as bad as the last one?

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