YES Programs



A Day in the Wilderness

Group of YES alumni on a hike in the wilderness

On May 24, 29 West Bank YES alumni gathered at Jala Jungle, a family-owned natural forest and garden located in the mountains of Bethlehem. The alumni came together for a hike and to volunteer at the park.

YES alumna in YES t-shirt harvesting grape leaves

The day started off with a traditional Palestinian breakfast of falafel and hummus with the owners of the park. Following breakfast, the group hiked for two hours through the Al-Makhrour Valley, making their way to the top of the mountain where Jala Jungle is located. Along the hike, they explored the ruins of centuries-old Palestinian villages and identified rare herbs and plants unique to the mountains. The hike concluded with a visit to a farm in the Al-Makhrour Valley, which cultivates special varieties of flowers and fruits.

After the hike, the alumni split up to participate in various activities at Jala Jungle. They harvested grape leaves, which are used to make the traditional Palestinian dish grape leaves rice rolls. They also assisted the owners in maintaining the jungle by digging pits, planting tomatoes, and clearing debris.

The alumni also experienced the unique cooking method of Zarb, where food is initially heated with fire in underground preheated ovens and then covered with soil to cook slowly using the earth’s heat. Practicing this traditional cooking method connected the alumni with their Palestinian heritage and land.

Following the day's activities, alumni enjoyed a meal of Zarb for lunch and reveled in the beauty of nature at the Jala Jungle dining hall.