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My name is Iyyad Rayyan from Ramallah, Palestine. I am a middle child among five siblings, which is a typical size for a Palestinian family. Since I was in the 9th grade, I started taking evening English courses to improve my language skills. Going away from home for college was something that I wanted to do since I was in high school.

I moved to Iowa in the summer of 2011 to attend Grand View University and pursue a degree in accounting. I think that I did not give the transition as much thought as I should have; for example, I thought that my entire stay in the states would solely revolve around my academic performance in school.

The idea of serving the community was not something that I thought about until I attended a conference in Ankeny, sponsored by AFSC and focused on U.S. policy in Palestine-Israel. That conference was the first time that I saw Americans who are passionate about the Palestinian cause.

It took me some time to realize the responsibility I have as a Palestinian to educate about my country. This is a challenging goal; I knew that I would need help, something that would give me access to people and resources.

I have volunteered with AFSC for two years, and this involvement has led to a five-month internship. I have just started my internship after coming back from a training program in Chicago. That trip has increased my interest in the AFSC as a nonprofit.

AFSC recently hosted a speech by Rabbi Brant Rosen at Drake University. The speech addressed different aspects of the conflict, and the audience interacted actively with the speaker.

Currently, we have started working on a new goal – the SodaStream Boycott Campaign. This campaign aims to educate people about the consequences of using SodaStream, which is a device that turns water into bubbly soda. SodaStream markets itself as an environmentally friendly product that saves the environment by reducing the use of plastic. Yet, it constricts the water supply and land capacity of Palestinians, so what is friendly about it?

A product that is made on a settlement that is in direct violation of international law increases the complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This product also uses land, resources, and underground water that belong to the Palestinians.

We are planning on using different methods and techniques to educate the public about this product and what threats it poses to the Palestinians’ reality.