Growing up in Ramallah, Palestine, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at Birzeit University. As a student, I witnessed firsthand the challenges facing our education system, ranging from a lack of resources to Israeli violence and raids on our campuses. Despite the chronic crisis, education served as a beacon of resistance and perseverance for me and my peers. This transformative power of education inspired me to pursue a career in English language teaching and later, in the education sector.
As I delved deeper into my work, I became increasingly aware of the obstacles young Palestinians face in accessing employment opportunities, specifically in the information and technology sector, creating a stark contrast with the global tech industry. This realisation prompted me to explore the intersection between education and technology, ultimately leading me down an academic path. Pursuing my MSc in Comparative and International Education from the University of Oxford helped me gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the education sector in Palestine. Through my research on the emerging ICT industry in Palestine, I developed a keen interest in how individuals can develop professionally in the face of external oppression and adversity.
These experiences fueled my passion to pursue a doctoral degree in Education from Cambridge University, specifically at Churchill College, whose values of academic excellence, innovation, and leadership resonate with my aspirations. I firmly believe that education is a key stronghold for Palestinians on their journey towards self-determination and freedom. By pursuing my doctoral degree at Cambridge, I hope to contribute to the body of knowledge on the intersection between education and technology, and to be an agent of change not only in Palestine but also in other fragile and emerging contexts.
The impact of the Palestinian Studentship
I remember feeling disheartened when I first received my offer because I was concerned about securing funding opportunities, which I knew was challenging for Palestinians. With the fiscal crisis that the Palestinian government is continuously facing, budget allocations for research, especially PhD, are extremely scarce, and I would have found it extremely challenging to finance my studies without this generous contribution. Thankfully, the Churchill Palestinian Studentship came to my rescue, and it has made all the difference.
The resources and the rich learning environment that the scholarship has provided have been truly transformative. Not only have I been able to pursue my academic interests, but I have also had the opportunity to develop on a personal level. The variety of activities and events offered through the college, department, and the University as a whole, ranging from mind-stimulating talks and workshops to student-led events and formal dinners have been invaluable in shaping my overall experience at Cambridge. If I had not been awarded this funding, I would not have been able to pursue my degree, and my academic and personal growth would have been stunted.
The Churchill College experience
While the world-class teaching has been outstanding, what I value most is the opportunity to connect with my peers from inside Churchill and other colleges as well. Coming from diverse backgrounds and sharing a commitment to public change and social impact, we have built a strong community that I know will last a lifetime. Through these connections, I have grown both personally and academically, and I know that this inspiring community will have a lasting impact on my life and the lives of those around me.
This experience is particularly meaningful to me given the systematic isolation of academia and academics in Palestine. In Palestine, academic and cultural exchange is often impeded, which only serves to collude in Israel’s efforts to inflict psychological collective punishment on Palestinians. As such, being part of a community that fosters meaningful connections and supports one another is particularly invaluable to me.
As I pursue my PhD, I am deeply committed to leveraging my knowledge and skills to improve the livelihoods of people in Palestine. Moving forward, I am thrilled to continue contributing to my field’s body of knowledge and to effect transformative change in my country. I am dedicated to using my abilities and expertise to address Palestine’s educational challenges and foster a robust and sustainable research culture in the region. To ensure that research and practices align with the communities we serve, I believe that equitable partnerships and community engagement are essential. Alongside research, teaching is a personal passion of mine, and I aspire to inspire and mentor the next generation of Palestinian scholars and leaders.
I cannot thank the donors enough for their generosity and support, and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the Palestinian community and beyond.
Read more about supporting or applying for the Palestinian Studentship: Palestinian Studentship Fund – Churchill College (cam.ac.uk)