Palestinian Student Faces the End of Her Undergraduate Experience
Over the past few months, I worked intensely on my senior project, a film essay about partisanship in the Palestinian media after the Fatah–Hamas conflict. I completed the pre-production, the shooting and the post-production.
But part of the essay was a theater performance, and I faced a lot of obstacles pulling that off.
From the beginning, it was hard to coordinate the actors’ free time—these were my peers at school—with times when the stage was available.
I scheduled a time when everyone was free and the campus stage was also available, but then I got worried about my deadline. I felt I needed a plan B, and plan B was to rent a stage for three hours and shoot at the weekend when I could be sure everyone had time off.
I called several organizations that have stages. The first stage was at another university—they wanted $800 for two hours. I called another organization whose goal is to promote theater and cinema in Palestine—they asked for $500 for two hours.
I was worried that two hours wouldn’t be enough time for me to shoot the performance. And I also felt that they were asking too much from a student for fairly rudimentary theater stages that weren’t particularly big and didn’t have lights or curtains.
In a casual conversation, I complained to a student friend who studies acting. His insight was very interesting; he told me that his university doesn’t even allow him to rehearse and perform on its stage. He’s honing his craft in street performances and rehearsing in one of his friends’ garages. This is how Palestine is developing its future dramatists.
I decided to ask my advisor to give me more time to prepare so I could wait until our university stage was available for all of my actors. And finally, the performance went ahead.
I worked with four cameras and a recorder to shoot the theater scene. It was nerve-wracking because I was directing and monitoring four cameras single-handedly. I like doing everything by myself, but I was under pressure, with the success of my project hanging in the balance.
The footage was good, my advisor told me. I started editing. After about two weeks of working on the edit and getting feedback from my advisor, I finished my project on time.
I was satisfied. My senior project reflected my thoughts and passion about the media situation in Palestine—how it was, how it is now, and how media outlets put words in peoples’ mouths according to their own political biases.
After I submitted my senior project, I had a conversation with my two professors. I told them I couldn’t see myself in filmmaking and that I probably wouldn’t be able to find a local media platform where I could work as a professional journalist.
My experience at Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA), an independent news agency based in Berlin, taught me how to practice real journalism, following its ethics and rules; I’m not sure I could work that way in Palestine. As an intern at some Palestinian news organizations, I saw a number of ethical lapses, and I refuse to compromise like that.
But, as one of my professors said, I should try hard to be part of the field, working in the way that I want.
April 18 was the date of my senior final board, where a panel of professors reviewed my project. I was very anxious; I really wanted to make a good impression and get a good grade. After some very harsh comments by the professors on the board—they criticized everything in the film—I got an excellent grade, a 92 out of 100. The inquisition, a professor later told me, was to push me to be my best.
I also was happy because I had made my family and friends proud of me.
My bachelor’s degree phase is almost done now. It is hard to accept in a way, as I am very attached to my college. The last four years have really passed quickly; a blink of an eye. But those four years have left me with amazing memories from my experiences in Turkey, Berlin and Palestine.
A new phase of my life starts now. New chapters of about to be written.