Tag Archives: Palestine

Q&A with Lang Opportunity Scholar Ferial Berjawi ’19

Congratulations to Peace and Conflict Studies special major, Ferial Berjawi ’19!

From News and Events, October 17th, 2018
By Arthur Davis ’19

Ferial Berjawi '19
“I’ve always found myself surrounded by broken women who never received sufficient awareness to determine their own paths,” says Berjawi. “I developed the program to empower these girls to become the pioneers of change in their societies.”

For her Lang Opportunity Scholarship project over the summer, Ferial Berjawi ’19 designed and ran the BetterFly Camp, a six-week program that brought 30 young refugee girls in Lebanon together to discuss body image, legal rights, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health.

The program, which Berjawi discussed with the Arabic news source FutureTV and on Journal Post, targeted Syrian and Palestinian refugee girls in Lebanon between ages 10 and 15. It emerged from Berjawi’s personal experiences and motives.

“I’ve always found myself surrounded by broken women who never received sufficient awareness to determine their own paths,” says the economics and peace & conflict studies special major from Beirut. “I developed the program to empower these girls to become the pioneers of change in their societies.”

Berjawi took a research-based approach to the program and used an array of innovative methods piloted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like the Danish Refugee Council and the Women’s Refugee Commission. The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, which awarded Berjawi the scholarship, lauded her project as a great example of the impact that students can have around the world through engaged scholarship.

Back at Swarthmore this fall, Berjawi discussed her experiences with and vision for the BetterFly Camp.

How would you describe the work you did this summer with the BetterFly Camp?

Basically, it was a series of psychosocial support sessions that had to do with early marriage, gender-based violence, positive body image–also legal rights, discrimination, power, and positionality. It was just basically addressing the different layers of these girls’ identities and helping them start thinking about who they are and who they want to be in the future. All of them have witnessed [gender-based violence]. All of them have seen it, or might have experienced it. That’s not their fault. They’re not to blame. They’re only the victims, even though they are victims with a lot of agency. So we made sure we were not taking that agency away from them. They should be allowed to find their own agency, look within themselves, and find their own power to rise above social constraint and determine their own paths for the future. So it was more inspiration and empowerment than it was about knowledge.

How did the idea for the project originate?

I grew up with everything that is going on. Just growing up and seeing it, living under the patriarchy, I experienced the sexism, the misogyny, the objectification, the dehumanization of women all the time. So that was part of it. But I never really knew how bad it was until I did an internship with the Danish Refugee Council the summer after my sophomore year. There, I worked closely with the gender-based violence program coordinator [on a large-scale empowerment/education program]. So I thought, “How about I do a similar initiative, but with a different approach?” I thought it would be more effective so the girls could open us up to even more, since it was a smaller group.

What was the Lang Center’s role in the project?

I got the Lang Opportunity Scholarship in December of my sophomore year, and they basically funded my internship that summer with the Danish Refugee Council. I don’t think I would have been able to do it otherwise. They’ve been there, backing me up, all the way. My context is very particular to Lebanon, and even though it may not be their area of expertise, bridging our knowledge together, we were able to make it work.

Is there anything that news excerpts or blurbs tend to miss when describing the big picture of your project? Moments or details that get left out?

There are little victory moments when you’re like, “Yes! This is working!” The final celebration is one example of that. We had our sessions and at the end, I was like, “You know what, girls? Let’s have a final celebration where you present something.” I thought it’d just be an hour. They’d come, they’d get their certificates, and that’d be it. But they wanted to perform. So in a matter of three weeks, we were able to choreograph a dance—two dances, actually—and a play. The parents loved it. After the celebration, they came up to me thanking me for the project. And the girls—five of them were crying their eyes out, so I just started crying, too. It’s one of those moments that are very genuine and very real. I learned more from them than they learned from me, I think.

What are your future plans—for the project or yourself?

Someone actually reached out to me from an American NGO. The director learned about my work from social media, and they want to do another project cycle over winter break. They’re completely funding a new cycle, and I’m going to partner with them on it. And for the future, I’m looking into social impact consulting and nonprofit work. Last summer was super rewarding, but you can do all these interventions and do all this nonprofit work, but their lives will ultimately be shaped by the socioeconomic and political circumstances that they live in. So I want to be working on a more policy level to change the framework itself.

Israel/Palestine Film Series – Fall 2018

Israel/Palestine Film Series
Fall 2018

Please join us next month for the annual Israel/Palestine Film Series at Swarthmore. There will be screenings for the first six Wednesdays of the semester, and all are free and open to the public (including pizza and refreshments).

All screenings at 4:15PM in the Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema.

film series poster

Organized by Peace and Conflict Studies and Sponsored by the Provost’s Office and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility


September 5
Frontiers of Dreams and Fears


September 12
Foxtrot


September 19
The War Around Us


September 26
Rock in the Red Zone


October 3
Omar


October 10
The Women’s Balcony

 

 

 

Existence is Resistance: A Performance by Palestinian Drag Queen Madam Tayoush

Existence is Resistance: Palestinian Drag Queen Madam Tayoush

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2018,  7 – 9PM
SCHEUER ROOM

Elias Portrait
Photograph by Joni Sternbach

Download a flyer here: Madam Tayoush Poster

Performance Artist Elias Wakeem, also known as Madam Tayoush, is a queer Arab Palestinian artist living and working in Palestine. Through performance they/she examines the reaction of the audience to their/her personal story of the place they/she grew up in with its geographical, historical and political situations. Madam Tayoush has created a series of monthly radical queer drag ball parties in Jerusalem called “Jerusalem is Burning”.

Sponsored by Peace & Conflict Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Sociology & Anthropology, the Lang Center, and the Sager Fund.

The Sager Fund of Swarthmore College was established in 1988 by alumnus Richard Sager ’74, a leader in San Diego’s gay community.
The fund sponsors Events focused on concerns of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

Open to the public.

Human Rights Hummus: A Podcast Produced by Peace and Conflict Studies Alumni

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 9.53.56 AM

Swarthmore Peace and Conflict Studies recent graduates Lily Tyson and Marissa Cohen have already produced three episodes of their new podcast, “Human Rights Hummus: Voices of the Holy Land.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 9.41.51 AM

 

Lily and Marissa interview Israelis and Palestinians and record their stories, teaching listeners “what their lives are like and about what is going on with this occupation today, as they experience it.”

Swarthmore College, the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility,  and Prof. Sa’ed Atshan of the Peace and Conflict Studies program all proudly support Lily and Marissa on this project!

Check out their website here.

Israel/Palestine Film Series – Fall 2017

films series poster 2017-2018

Please join us next month for the annual Israel/Palestine Film Series at Swarthmore. There will be screenings for the first six Wednesdays of the semester, and all are free and open to the public (including pizza and refreshments).

All screenings at at 4:15PM in the Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema.

September 6: The Wanted 18

Palestinian stop-motion artist collaborates with filmmakers and activists to document one of the strangest chapters in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

September 13: Disturbing the Peace

This film reveals the transformational journeys from combatants (both Palestinian and Israeli) committed to armed battle to nonviolent peace activists.

September 20: The Settlers

Israeli filmmaker explores the controversial communities of Israeli settlers occupying the West Bank through a series of interviews.

September 27: Out In The Dark

Israeli filmmaker creates a gay love story between a Palestinian man and his Israeli partner.

October 4: Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Israeli filmmaker produces this emotional drama of an Israeli woman fighting for her independence from religious-based marriage laws.

October 11: Speed Sisters

Canadian director and producer illuminates the world of the Palestinian women who comprise the first all-women race car driving team in the Middle East.

 

 

Israel/Palestine Film Series – Fall 2016

The Peace and Conflict Studies program will be organizing another Israel/Palestine Film Series this semester. Screenings are open to the entire community, and we hope you will join us.

Israel/Palestine Film Series

Sponsored by Swarthmore Peace and Conflict Studies

All screenings are on Wednesdays at 4:15pm in the Lang Performing Arts Cinema

September 7: Promises

Israeli filmmaker documents a group of Israeli and Palestinian children meeting for the first time in and around Jerusalem.

September 14: Walk on Water

Israeli filmmaker produces this psychological thriller focusing on the life of one Israeli intelligence officer.

September 21: The Gatekeepers

Israeli filmmaker interviews all six living heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

September 28: The War Around Us

American filmmaker follows the only two international journalists who covered the 2009 Israel-Hamas War in Gaza.

October 5: Paradise Now

Palestinian filmmaker produces this Academy Award-nominated fiction film examining the final hours before two Palestinian friends prepare to commit acts of violence in Tel Aviv.

October 19: Eyes Wide Open

Israeli filmmaker produces this breathtaking fiction film examining a love affair between two Orthodox Jewish men in Jerusalem.

Dismantling the Ivory Tower: Class Takes Field Trip to Palestine and Israel

by Isabel Knight
This story originally appeared in the Daily Gazette on 16 February 2016.

This past winter break, students in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict class taught by Dr. Sa’ed Atshan ‘06 went on a trip to Israel and Palestine for 10 days. The trip, funded by the Lang Center, the President’s Office, and an anonymous donor, was offered for an optional .5 credits. Of the 24 students in the class, 19 decided to go. Students in the class described the trip as an emotional experience that humanized the conflict after a semester of learning about the conflict from an intellectual standpoint.

Professor Atshan made a point in his class to de-exceptionalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Having taught at Harvard and Brown, he regularly brings classes of around 100 students on a trip to Israel and Palestine during spring break. This trip, the Swarthmore group, chaperoned by Religion Professor Yvonne Chireau, spent about half their time with a group from Boston College.

“I guess I expected to see what was there, but I think it really hit me once I actually saw everything, like the separation barrier and how it’s higher than the Berlin Wall,” said Yein Pyo ’16, a member of the class.

Students described scenes of tear gas canisters hung as decoration and entire villages reduced to rubble. One Palestinian woman who organized a weekly protest of the Israeli soldiers took the class into her home and treated them to a home-cooked meal while she showed them footage of her brother being shot in the chest with a tear gas canister and killed.

“Personal narrative was emphasized throughout the trip. We went to a theater company, a man who studied to be a pharmacist and then he started his own theater company. And it focuses on teaching Palestinian children to use an ”I” narrative instead of a “we” narrative, because a lot of times personal stories get clouded by the collective Palestinian narrative,” Killian McGinnis ‘19 said.

Emily Audet ’18 described a scene when the class visited Hebron, Palestine, in which the class was walking in an open-air market in the center of the city. Local Palestinians told them the market was usually bustling, but Israeli settlers had moved into adjacent second-floor apartments and had recently begun throwing trash such as glass and feces out their windows onto the shoppers below, leaving the market deserted.

When asked about the dynamics of teaching such a politically charged topic, Atshan remarked on the importance of creating a safe space that welcomes all points of views. He said he always gets very excited when students in his class volunteer to play devil’s advocate.

“While at Swarthmore, I was a Mellon scholar and a Lang scholar. The Mellon Scholarship is all about becoming good academics so I wear the academic hat, and the Lang scholarship is all about doing good in the world, so I care deeply about research, teaching, scholarship, but also about activism, and engagement in the world. But in my classroom, the classroom space is not about creating activists as much as it is about creating an intellectual environment.”

At the same time, students said they had to strike a balance between that intellectual space and the fact that they were learning about the lives of real people.

“[In class], it can seem very theoretical but to actually talk to the people and carry their stories and to visit the sites puts a very real and human face to the pain and suffering and injustice,” Mosea Esaias Harris ’17 said.

Many students described the trip as one that they will likely never forget, filled with intense emotions and heartfelt stories. It left them thinking about how they had been changed and how they would go about their lives once they returned to Swarthmore.

“It’s really tempting, after you have seen all this, to want to change everything and be the activist and be the voice on campus or in the world, but I was encouraged by the solidarity of my classmates, just knowing that there are little issues within the conflict that you can focus on,” McGinnis said.

Many students expressed a desire for for more trips of this type to be incorporated into humanities and social sciences classes to give them an experiential component, similar to labs in natural science courses. According to Atshan, this type of learning is called “embedded study abroad” and brings vibrancy to the kinds of experiences that humanities and social science students can usually only read or watch videos about.

“Humanization was a huge objective of the trip,” Atshan said. “We are very privileged to be able to sit in the ivory tower and turn people and their struggles and realities into objects of our analysis, and I think it is really important to restore the humanity of those subjects to see them as fellow human beings.”

DG_Israel_Palestine_trip_2015

Witnessing Palestine: Reflections of a Daughter of Holocaust Survivors

Witnessing Palestine: Reflections of a Daughter of Holocaust Survivors

Thursday, November 12, 2015
4:15 PM
Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall, Swarthmore College (directions)

Come hear Eve Spangler’s story as a daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors ) who became a scholar in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Dr. Eve Spangler
Eve Spangler, Assoc. Prof. of Sociology at Boston College.
Photograph Lee Pellegrini

Eve Spangler, associate professor of Sociology at Boston College, serves as a Human and Civil Rights Organizations of America board member, and is a founding board member of American Jews for a Just Peace. Spangler’s new book is Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict. For more information, click
here.

sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies, The Cooper Fund, Arabic
Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Religious Studies