I’ve come across a lot of interesting people in the blogosphere/Twittershere and I just wanted to point you in the direction of a blog by a 23-year old young man, Nader K., who lives in Gaza. It’s called “Sleepless in Gaza” with the tagline “venting can be therapeutic” and it’s basically about his life in Gaza, his thoughts, ruminations etc. But that’s something that we in the West don’t see- ordinary people trying to live out their lives in the best way they know how and despite incredible odds.
Lets be honest, we Americans have such a warped, stereotypical view of the people of Gaza that one has to wonder if our media and government purposely keep us from seeing their humanity. After all, how can we demonize the Palestinians if we see them as real people with the same hopes and fears we all have- we all want to be treated fairly, to be loved and cared for, to be able to see our kids grow up to be productive adults, to be respected for who we are, to have an education and a job that provides a sense of fulfillment and some measure of economic security.
This post from Nader’s blog caught my attention, it’s called “Just Once Please” and describes his hopes of getting a scholarship to attend University outside of Gaza and his fears that it won’t happen. With his permission I am posting this excerpt:
We then started talking about education once again. Mohammed is going to London School of Economics (LSE) to do his Masters in Global Politics, Mr. Refaat is going to Kent University to do his PhD in Comparative Literature, while I was still not sure about what should happen next. My mind starts to wonder off to three weeks ago, when I received an unconditional offer from the University of Westminster for a Masters degree in Business Intelligence and Analytics.
It was a sunny Friday when I received an email from the admissions office in the University of Westminster, telling me that the University has made an unconditional offer, for the previously mentioned course, starting in September 2011. This very email was the first ever to put me in tears. I was very happy that I’d finally made it half way through to the UK!
Three hours later, I applied to the scholarship, without which, I won’t be able to continue my education! All required papers were submitted. TOEFL and IELTS, full transcript, Résumé, etc. The scholarship sent a confirmation receipt by email a few hours later. I lean back and grab my cup of coffee with a wide smile. I felt so close to leaving Gaza for the first time in my life.
All of this flashed in front of my eyes in a fraction of a second, and I am back to reality when Mr. Refaat asked me: “So, Nader, for which scholarship did you apply?” With utmost courage I replied: “PEACE”. As soon as I said that, the whole atmosphere changed to absolute silence, which, in fact, terrified me a little bit and made me feel a bit uncomfortable, as I sensed something wrong. “What’s wrong?” I asked, breaking the silence, wanting to bring the old atmosphere back. “Nothing!” Mr. Refaat replied, stopped for second and continued, “Did you know that this is one of the highly competitive scholarships?”
Once again, my feelings were right. I knew something bad wass going to happen because nothing has ever gone right so far.
If you happen to be or know someone in the scholarships office in the university, talk to them about my case please. Otherwise, just pray I get it. Help me help make the world a better place.
In the United States, everything we see or hear about the Middle East is presented to us through the filter of a biased media, self-interested politicians and the people/groups who seem to have a vested interest in ensuring that those who live in the Arab world are portrayed in a way that makes us fearful and unsympathetic to their plight. I think the only way we can truly understand the Mideast conflict is by reaching out and trying to see things from the perspective of people who live there. And these days, with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere providing us with an opportunity to communicate with people from all over the world, there really is no excuse for not reaching out and educating ourselves.