My Brandeis coursework and work/volunteer experience is focused on achievable coexistence through social action and cross-cultural communication. I am involved closely with the Brandeis PAX (Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies) program and other on-campus groups that support these ideals. Nonviolence International is a perfect fit for me, as it seeks to use elements of social action and education to work towards peaceful resolutions. In that sense, almost all of my coursework has relevance to my organization. I have taken some incredible courses at Brandeis, with Professor Fellman and others, that have discussed the importance of compassion, empathy, and humility in the conflict resolution process. On a programmatic level, these lessons have been paramount in my understanding of my organization and its mission.
Through the research I am conducting, I am learning an incredible amount of information about the history of Israel/Palestine, and how the current situation is, in part, a reflection of history. My time at Brandeis has been significant in a variety of ways, but most importantly it has taught me two main things that are applicable to my time at Brandeis. First, in every class, for every paper, we as students are always asked to think critically about the subject matter. In context of this internship, critical thinking is SO important! When I sift through news headline or watch videos about the subject of Gaza and the Great March of Return, and in turn reading Facebook posts from my Brandeis friends, there is always a hint of “fake news.” Many media sources focus only on how much trauma and emotion is deeply engrained into this conflict, and publish stories that cause “outrage” or emotional reactions for the reader. While this tactic does get views, clicks, and shares, it also adds fuel to the fire by further polarizing the “sides.” Therefore, I have had to utilize critical thinking when conducting my research.
Second, on a more social level, Brandeis has also taught me about the Jewish community and about the cultural and religious symbol that is Israel. With this in mind, I am able to somewhat contextualize details and situations that can be viewed as one-sided. However, I also encourage myself to evaluate accountability. This is such a divisive, complex issue, and there is fault and also victimhood on both sides. Being a Brandeisian allows me to cast a both critical and compassionate eye on the ever-developing situation.
I included a photo of my organization’s founder, Mubarak Awad. He is a Christian Palestinian who is a first-hand participant in nonviolent action and civil disobedience in Israel/Palestine. He is an extraordinary individual, and I learn so much from him every day!