Alumni Spotlight: Mahmood Abu Saleh - Creating inclusive student life

Mahmood Abu Saleh graduated from the Galilee school in 2009 and is now a student in Be’er Sheva studying engineering at Ben Gurion University. "When I first got to the university, it was hard to see that the Jews and Arabs stayed separate in campus life, even when we were in classes together." So he decided to do something about it. "I began working for the student union as the Arab student coordinator, and created a series of programs that were aimed at bringing Jewish and Arab students together. We started off by organizing fun events so that people could start to get to know each other – like a hike and repelling in the desert, a cooking class with Nof Atumna-Ismaeel, the Arab winner of Master Chef cooking show." Nof is also a parent at the Wadi Ara Hand in Hand school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But having fun wasn’t enough. Mahmood and his team also hired facilitators to run dialogue sessions for students.

“The dialogue was challenging – some of the students had never sat down and listened to an Arab or a Jew speak about their history or identity. But this is something I know is also essential as part of living in this place. Growing up at the Galilee school, I learned how to be a leader, how to listen to others who disagree with me, and how to express myself in a way that allows others to listen. I’m doing all I can to affect my surroundings here at the university, and my friends from school are doing the same.”

 

Mahmood is active in campus life, bringing Jews and Arabs together and organizing cultural and music events for the Arab students on campus, so that there would be cultural spaces where Arabs felt involved and comfortable. His friendships with one of his Jewish classmates was written up in a local Hebrew-language paper here.

 

Below: Mahmood with the posters from many of the events he organized on campus... so far. 

 

 

 

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