Meet One of Our Most Influential Graduates: Elias D’ies
For this month, I had a very nice interview with one of our most influential graduates, Elias D’ies. I asked him about his career, studies, running for office in our recent elections, directing the Bet-Lahem Live Festival, BethBC’s effect in his life, and a word from him to our new students as they are starting their new semester.
I hope you enjoy getting to know this amazing young man as much as I did.
What did you study at BethBC, and when did you graduate?
“I was a student in the Tour Guide Program. I graduated in 2010, and currently I’m a student in the MA Peace Studies Program.”
What has BethBC’s influence been in your life?
“BethBC helped me to shape my vision as a Christian on how to respond and deal with the current political situation, learn more about the theology of the land, the history of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and knowledge about culture, traditions and history of the Holy Land. And most of all, BethBC helped me to discover my leadership skills.”
How is your relationship with the College, staff and faculty now?
“I have a strong relationship with the staff and faculty. I was the logistics coordinator, and I helped with registration for Christ at the Checkpoint Conference for two years in a row. I always include Bethlehem Bible College on the tourist program to visit the College, meet the students and learn about the College.”
As a young man, why have you chosen to stay in Palestine and serve your country when many of the youth are leaving for a better life in the West?
“Since I discovered my call and passion in my life through my study at BethBC, I have decided that I need to stay, live, and give all my life here in Palestine to serve my community in different ways.”
What is special about Palestine?
“Palestine is a multicultural, and multi-religious country. That makes it unique and special. The diverse communities and identities create a real example to the whole world about peace, acceptance and diversity.”
Elections: Tell me more about the elections, and why you chose to run for office? How did it influence your life?
“I decided to run for the mayoral election in Beit Sahour because I believe in positive change, and every single person can be the change he or she wants to see in this life. We cannot keep playing the victim role if we want to change our communities; we need to challenge ourselves and find our call in life to move one-step forward to be the change in our current situation and the future.”
Now you are a member of the Beit Sahour Municipality; what is your role? What do you hope to accomplish or influence while maintaining this role in the community?
“I am a city council member in the Beit Sahour Municipality. I am more involved in public relations and programs, and I am looking forward to building close relationships between the public and private sector to create a vision for our future in the city of Beit Sahour. By doing this, we hope we can deal with all the challenges that we have in the city on social, political and economic levels.
Also, I hope that we can create new classes in the schools to work with students at a young age to deepen their social responsivities toward their city, and to create young leaders who are capable to lead the community in the future.”
How important is the role of the youth in the country?
“Youth form around 35% of our county’s population, and they have to be more involved in decision making and leadership in our country.”
Bet Lahem Live Festival: Tell me more about it. Where did the idea come from, and now after five years, how important is this festival to Bethlehem?
“Bet Lahem Live Festival is a community initiative that started in 2013 to celebrate our culture, promote Bethlehem as an open, multi-faith city and challenge our local and international notions of justice. Our main goal is to revive Start Street, which was once a central vein of commerce in Bethlehem, and it is the pilgrimage route from Jerusalem to Bethlehem where we believe the Virgin Mary and Joseph walked to reach the grotto where Jesus was born.
The festival links local communities to global action with an extensive list of local and international performers scheduled during the four full days of activities that run annually in the beginning of August. Our three pillars are faith, culture, and justice with a list of activities ranging from concerts, workshops, parades and theater productions, justice and faith panels, conferences, multi-faith activities, movie screenings, educational engagements tours, and a variety of community activities.
Bet Lahem Live is an opportunity to bring the world to Bethlehem and Bethlehem to the world, to empower the community and show your support for peace and justice movements livening up Bethlehem.”
Finally, why do you encourage youth to stay in the land, despite all the hardships they are facing now and might face in the future?
“God chose every single person to achieve a goal in this life. We all can create the future that we want to live, but all we need is to find our call in life and how we can contribute to our community in a positive way. We can make the impossible possible by using all the possibilities that we have in our lives.”
What piece of advice do you have for the students of Bethlehem Bible College as they start their new academic year?
“Learn from the BethBC staff, faculty, experiences and thoughts. Engage and be involved in all of BethBC’s activities because it is a life-changing experience.”
Thank you, Elias, for your spirit and dedication to our country. We pray that God will bring up more young leaders who are passionate in serving their country and people as much as you do.
Amira is the Communications Coordinator of Bethlehem Bible College. She is a committed Palestinian Christian who has a passion for writing about the intersection of faith and seeking justice for her fellow countrymen. To read more of her writings sign up for Bethlehem Bible College’s monthly newsletter.