As a high school student growing up in Palestine, Shehada Shalalda was very aware of the conflict and strife in the region. In fact that’s all he knew.

It was in the old quarter of Ramallah one day when his life would change forever. He heard the sounds of a violin from the newly-opened music school – it stopped him in the moment. A moment of time that would alter his future.

Since that day, Shalalda spent hours in the Al Kamandjati music school, sometimes skipping school to be around the sounds. There, he learned how to fix and clean instruments and how to transform a piece of wood into a violin, planing away at the edges to bring out the curves and hollows, the f-holes and the waist, reports the Guardian.

It was at that school that he would meet an Italian violin-maker who would offer him the opportunity to travel to Florence, Italy to study luthiery. A luthier is someone who builds or repairs string instruments.

“When I arrived in Italy, it was a shock and a surprise to see there weren’t checkpoints and soldiers with guns in the streets as in Palestine,” says Shalalda. “My friends and I had imagined that the entire world was like our country.”

“I grew up in the middle of the war zone. I didn’t think I would survive, making violins offered me a way to remain alive. It was a chance to see the world and do something for my community: bringing peace through music.”

The Next Leap Forward

Human beings are not born with hate. They have to learn it.

Listen to his words, “My friends and I had imagined that the entire world was like our country.” That is all Shalalda and his friends knew.

We are what we’re taught. We are what we learn. We are influenced from those people around us.

It is time friends to do an inventory check in each of our lives. Who are we hanging with? Who do we talk to? What are those influences that shape our lives?

It is a mindset. What goes into your mind, will formulate your thought patterns and habits.

I challenge you to do better. I challenge myself equally.

Shalada is a good example for the world to follow. “This is a way to show that my homeland is producing beautiful handicrafts. Palestine is known only for conflict, but we also have a strong cultural tradition,” Shalalda now sells his violins all over the world.

“I won’t stop building bridges between cultures thanks to these beautiful instruments, violins,” says Shalada.