12 Dec 2012

DSMT scholarship student visits Britain

2012 news Comments Off on DSMT scholarship student visits Britain

Tamara, a former pupil of Dar El Tifl School, won a DSMT higher education scholarship to fund her four year degree in materials engineering at the Palestinian Al Quds university. She graduated this summer. Tamara is working in London as a volunteer at the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) for five months. Her work involves visiting British universities to raise awareness of humanitarian issues in the Abu Dis region of Palestine.

Fiona Seymour has been the DSMT administrator for the past three years and was delighted when Tamara travelled to the Isle of Wight to stay with her family for a weekend in November. Fiona was pleased to meet Tamara in person and ask her a few questions on behalf of our DSMT supporters.
Asked about the difference the DSMT Higher Education Scholarship has made to her life, Tamara sees beyond being able to earn an income to support her family. She said “When you educate a woman you teach a whole generation as women are the base of any community. I would like to teach another generation and be part of the education system and help educate more people. The scholarship has really motivated me. It has been good to know that others are supporting me and I’m not alone.”

In her last year at university Tamara was one of eight Palestinian students chosen from over 200 applicants to come on a week’s exchange to London organised by CADFA. The highlight for her was a visit to Oxford University.  Tamara explained “This was the first time I travelled out of Palestine. It was amazing. I learnt about a new culture, improved my English language and enjoyed discussions with Oxford students who seemed very open minded.”

While Tamara made use of the cultural opportunities, she excelled in her degree course. Her graduation project on the production of polymers through the use of an improved thermal piston achieved the highest marks at Al Quds University and won second place in a Palestinian competition called ‘Made in Jerusalem’.”

DSMT Higher Education scholarships encourage recipients to undertake voluntary work as well as studying. Tamara was a volunteer in the mathematics museum at Al Quds University where she helped school children to carry out experiments and learn how to use mathematics in real life. She also volunteers in the health centre in East Jerusalem where she helps women and children to learn about ways they can improve their health. Tamara is currently volunteering at CADFA where she is working on the twinning with Middlesex University and Al Quds University.

After two months living in England, Tamara was asked about the contrasts with her life at home. She says the thing she has noticed most is how easy it is to travel in the UK. She said “ It’s wonderful to be able to travel so freely, without checkpoints and soldiers demanding to see your identification and know where you are going. I find myself arriving early for everything in London as I’m so used to allowing extra time to get through the checkpoints.” Another thing she has noticed is the amount of equipment in British universities. “There are such good laboratory facilities here to enable students to carry out practical work. At home, the occupation means there is control over the equipment we need and materials don’t always reach us.”

Commenting further on the difficulties faced by her fellow citizens, Tamara said “Most young Palestinians can’t see a future for themselves and feel lost. Studying in Palestine is difficult, but studying abroad is very expensive. Although there are few job opportunities, improving the education of young people will help us to build our economy and make a better life for everyone.”

Comment from Fiona: “I was so pleased that Tamara accepted our invitation to stay on The Isle of Wight. It was wonderful to be able to get to know someone who has benefited from the Trust’s work. When we boarded the passenger ferry at Portsmouth, Tamara told me it was her first time on a boat. This helped me understand how restricted her life has been. She was such an enthusiastic and considerate guest and loved going on walks through our muddy countryside.”

To improve her chances of an academic career in Palestine, Tamara hopes to study for a masters at a British University and is currently researching sources of funding.

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