It is in the rural Palestinian village that the visitor comes face-to-face with the long history of many cultures and civilizations which have traversed the country over the centuries. And the foundation of the village is the Palestinian home where traditions, cuisine, embroidery patterns, and heritage symbols have been preserved. And it is the women of the home who are primarily responsible for that preservation. Homestay training, therefore, focuses on women and it goes in two distinct and different directions.
The first is to capitalize on the knowledge and traditions already well known. Women are encouraged to frame local food recipes in the village’s agricultural history and the cultural traditions surrounding a particular dish. Women will interpret the embroidery pattern specific to each village and handed down from mother to daughter for centuries within the context of local flora or long-ago historical events. Women will be encouraged to illustrate the symbols and traditions surrounding holidays or special days of celebration. Women are in charge of domestic production of such products as olive oil soap and honey and they will be taught how to prepare for demonstrations of the manufacture or to display the results.
The second direction requires new ways of looking at a home: how will it meet the expectations of tourists, both international and domestic? Does it provide clean living conditions, good drinking water, a safe environment, appropriate sanitary facilities, protection from the elements (such as mosquitoes). Here the women will learn how to “make a bed the European way”, or how to place towels in the bedroom. The woman will be trained to be more the “inn-keeper” rather than the “cultural ambassadress” of above.
Rozana ensures that the two directions come together when the training is done. Homes are inspected and sample meals are tested to make certain that a high level of quality exists at each home. At the end of the training sessions, some of which were instructed by guest-house owners with many years in the tourism business, an educational booklet was written up and distributed. Funding for these the training sessions has come from several sources over the years, the European Union being the major donor.