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Anwar Jaber is 26 year old Palestinian architect and a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, Department of Architecture.
Anwar's doctoral research, which is looking at the interplay between space, power and the built environment and how it is shaped by conflict is funded by a Cambridge Trust Scholarship. She first arrived at Churchill in 2013 with the support of the Churchill College Palestinian Scholarship for an MPhil degree in Architecture and Urban Studies at Cambridge. Anwar is in no doubt about the impact the studentship made to her life:
"I would never have been able to be here today without the Scholarship support for my MPhil degree. The funding opened the door for me to come to Cambridge and for my supervisor to have faith in me to continue towards a PhD. I grew up amongst constant violence and war under Israeli Occupation. It wasn’t easy for me to study and commute from my home in Jerusalem to Birzeit University in Ramallah – I had to go through an Israeli Checkpoint which meant hours wasted waiting in line and passing security check every day – it was very challenging. Being in a place like Cambridge was a completely different experience- every thing is telling you ‘please study, please work hard’. It was a complete change in my life."
Anwar greatly values the liberal atmosphere in the College and also points to the help and support that has been on hand whenever she has felt in need, ‘there is always someone ready to listen and ready to help’.
"I come from a middle eastern, non-western culture and I had my own doubts before coming here – I was wondering whether I’d be able to fit in such a new atmosphere and culture until I realised that I was wrong. Now I feel that I am part of Churchill and the larger community of the University. It is a very diverse atmosphere and I had the pleasure to meet people from all over the world. Sometimes I have to break my own stereotypes in order to see that there are no stereotypes at all. This International exposure is something that does not exist for me at home."
Anwar serves as a joint Women Welfare officer at the Churchill MCR. She lives on-site in the Wolfson flats with her husband who has always been made to feel welcome and part of the wider College community and they enjoy participating in MCR events.
"I was unsure at first – not all the events were a fit for me – but sitting on the MCR committees I could see the effort and dedication involved. These are just students like me. It has helped to break down barriers and enabled me to have a voice. It has been a very rewarding experience and has helped me make sense of what the College is and approach different people."
Anwar still has several more years of study for her PhD following which she would like to go back home to develop an academic career as a University Professor and lecturer or serve as a consultant and become involved in decision making at a governmental or local level.
"It has been a life-changing, eye-opening experience on all levels, academic and personal, and I’m very grateful for it because without the funding from Churchill I would never have been able to be here. I have changed as a person and been exposed to the world."