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In Jericho, new Franciscan youth center offers chance to meet 'the other'


  • Franciscan Father Mario Hadchity sits with Sara Wajne July 18 in the computer lab at the new youth center in Jericho, West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
  • Rona Hmaid, a digital media intern at the new youth center in Jericho, West Bank, instructs students on how to use a video camera July 18. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
  • Atallah Kassis of Bethlehem, West Bank, talks to Palestinian youth at the new youth center in Jericho, West Bank, July 18. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
  • Palestinian teenagers Ala Ablawi and Mohammad Waqad practice using a radio microphone July 18 at the new youth center in Jericho, West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

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JERICHO, West Bank (CNS) -- Ahmed Za'atreh's love affair with photography began last year, when a relative came back from a trip abroad and gave him a camera. The 15-year-old focused his lens on the brown-hued desert mountains and valleys surrounding Jericho and began taking pictures.

This summer, with the inauguration of the Franciscan youth center adjacent to the Terra Santa School, Za'atreh has been able to take his hobby up a notch as he and his friends get professional training, not only in photography but in digital media in general, including videography and radio production.

"I want to be a professional photographer," said Za'atreh, who has been spending most of his summer days at the center. "I can improve my skills in this class."

His friend Ashraf Barahema, 17, had his face hidden behind a camera, hopping between Za'atreh's interview and a group of boys being photographed in the radio studio next door as he snapped photographs of his own.

"Photographers should take pictures of everything," he said between photographs.

Rona Hmaid, 22, a digital media student at Al-Quds Open University in Jerusalem, told Catholic News Service, "This class is giving students the opportunity to enhance their individual creativity and see things in new ways." Hmaid travels two hours each way from her village near Ramallah to reach the center every day.

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