In March 2013, I went on a spring break trek to Palestine with a a bunch of HKS students, led by Asma Jaber. I was thinking about going to Morocco, China, or some other trek, but after learning a bit about Palestinian history, culture, and political tensions, I knew that I had to go on this trek. It would be my first trip to the Middle East, and the trek would come to open my eyes, ears, and heart to the region. (You can read one of Asma’s powerful articles here.)
George was our local tour guide, a Christian Palestinian, and introduced us to this beautiful land with a culture and history unparalleled in its richness, vibrance, and tensions. For seven days, we trekked through the West Bank –Nablus, Ramallah, Jerico, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. We couldn’t get into Gaza Strip (no surprise there), but video-conferenced with some Gaza residents. My one week in Palestine pulled me to return to the Middle East many times since then, and I certainly plan to visit many times throughout my life. It’s one of the most actively misunderstood regions, and by studying and traveling throughout different countries since Palestine, I fell in love with the region.
Fast forward to last year, 2014. With her passion for studying and sharing the history of Palestine, Asma founded PIVOT, “an app that lets you see what a place looked like in the past and digitally streamlines the preservation of culture & history” and is starting with Palestine. Her co-founder and finance Sami Jitan and team won the Harvard Dean’s Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge at the Harvard Innovation Lab and a variety of other awards and recognition.
They’re currently raising money for this project on kickstarter (check it out) and are looking forward to making this a widely useful, relevant, and fun tool for everyone.
Asma’s ability to convert her passion for her ancestry, culture, and her history into an innovative and relevant app is so inspiring. I hope you check it out!