CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - Clear Lake High School exchange student Abood Aljazzar shares his experience growing up in Palestine.
"It's a very hard situation there. There were a few hours of electricity a day, there's no fresh water. You've seen a lot of people you love dying. When I was in America, the last two months, my best friend died. His house was bombed."
However, he is big into art.
"There is a lot of artists, and we can deliver our ideas by art."
So he and fellow student Whitney Finer, who is also into art, came up with the idea of a painting.
"We wanted to do something impactful, something that symbolizes America and Palestine," Finer said.
The panting portrays the relationship the U.S. has with Palestine, represented by an American soldier and a Palestinian woman carrying a child that, according to Finer and Aljazzar, represents peace between the two nations, along with the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Capital, and the World Trade Center, as well as a mosque, a church and an olive tree.
Finer and Aljazzar would spend part of each day over 3 1/2 months to work on it, with Finer painting the Palestinian portion of it, while Aljazzar would paint the American side. Both would help each other out with ideas, and help bring about a different perspective to both cultures.
"When you look at the painting, you see freedom. The first thing I saw when I came here and what was so cool to live in the United States is because there is freedom here," Aljazzar says.
During the process of painting, Finer says it's an eye opening experience.
"Knowing what he has gone through over there, and how its different from here...it makes you grateful for the things you have. Because it could be ten times worse.
"I hope it makes them think twice things in life."
The painting is something Abood is very proud of.
"I never imagined that my painting would be huge. I just paint, and no one will ever notice what I painted. This painting changed a lot, in things that I see and understand."
The painting will be on display at the Clear Lake Arts Center through the month of March as part of Youth Art Month. In addition, artwork from students in other districts such as Garner-Hayfield-Ventura will be on display as part of the program.