In 2013, MECA established the Helen Thomas Memorial Scholarship to honor the great journalist and to enable young women in Palestine to continue her legacy. Nadine is the recipient of MECA’s First Annual Helen Thomas Memorial Scholarship.
Nadine is a student at Al Quds University majoring in Media and with a minor in Gender Studies. She travels to Ramallah in the West Bank and Abu Dis in East Jerusalem for classes. Just getting to school can be a challenge for Nadine. Like all students who travel to school in the occupied West Bank, she never knows if she’ll be able to get through Israel’s numerous military checkpoints. “And recently,” Nadine says, “my university was invaded by the Israeli army, and students were arrested. Many times, I have smelled tear gas in the classroom.”
Nadine lives with her family in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank. She has three sisters and two brothers. She doesn’t see her father as often and they both would like; he works fourteen-hour days as a cab driver while her mother takes care of the home and children. Nadine has always wanted to study media and become a journalist because she feels that not enough Palestinian women are represented in the media. She says, “Palestinian women simply receive information and news rather than making it and being part of it… The media does not adequately cover women’s issues and stories.”
Since she was a young girl, Nadine worried that she would never be able to achieve her goals because of “the walls of occupation and society,” and because of her family’s financial limitations. Nadine says, “I consider myself very lucky to have this scholarship. It’s a relief for me and my family to not have to worry about how I will pay for my education.”
Nadine is motivated to study gender and media because, “The media in Palestine focuses primarily on political issues and does not usually include social issues, although the two subjects are intertwined. Many people would come to interview my grandfather about the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948, but nobody would interview women about what happened. I want to amplify the voices of Palestinian women, so that their narrative can be heard by Palestinians and others outside Palestine.”
Finally, Nadine says, “I am very privileged to be a student at the university I will do my best to do well in school for myself, my family, and most importantly, for those women who do not and have not had the opportunity to take this path in life. I want to keep the spirit of the refugee camp and show how women have played a very important role in maintaining this spirit. Each semester, I am documenting something important about women and refugees.”