Alumni Spotlight: Aya Abu Saleh
“Everywhere I go – I am proud to say that I am a graduate of the Galilee School. A place where I learned that every person has endless richness and is a world unto themselves; that every person has a place and a path. I grew up knowing that Aya is special just like Yuval and Rawan… And I learned to accept freedom in its fullness in everything that I do.”
We were lucky enough to have Aya Abu Saleh, a graduate of the Galilee School, speak at our Hannuka-Christmas event in Haifa on Thursday, December 21. Each speaker chose a value that Hand in Hand believes in, she chose the value of Freedom. Full text below.
The value I will speak about is Freedom. What is freedom?
I did grow up in an integrated school, with many people with diverse thoughts, ethnicities and beliefs. But beyond that I learned how to accept, value, and understand any person. I learned how to be special, how to be happy with what I have, how to understand that every person has endless richness and is a world unto themselves. That every person has a place and a path and an inner beauty. I grew up knowing that Aya is special just like Yuval and Rawan.
Freedom, like all values, is something that we discover mostly in times of challenge, and I met the challenge of freedom for the first time when I needed to choose a major in college. I, like many Arab students, grew up in an atmosphere that really pushed certain professions – like medicine and law, and without even thinking about it I started being active in medicine. I volunteered for an ambulance for 4 years, I studies medical systems in high school and I did everything I could to prepare for medical school in Israel.
This was a long process in anticipation of building my professional future, but exactly one month before I started studying, I stopped everything. I stopped the pressure and the thoughts about tests and everything that wasn’t me. I returned for a moment to what had been hiding somewhere in my thoughts. I understood that this is not what I wanted.
So I left the world as I knew it – all of the effort and time and energy that I had invested, and I chose what I wanted. I connected exactly to what I wanted to do – to the thing that collects all of the little moments of my life and reminds me over and over that this is what I love to learn. And that’s why, Aya today is a proud student of architecture and urban planning in the Technion. I’m a person that loves and is happy in every moment at school, and thinks over and over again that this was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
What I want to say with my story is something small that the Galilee School gave me, in the education that I got and atmosphere that I grew up in – that to support others is just as important as supporting myself. I learned to accept freedom in its fullness in everything that I want to do. And everywhere I go – I am proud to say that I am a graduate of the Galilee School. A place that taught me to believe in an Arabic phrase that says: “You think you are a small star, but inside is hidden an entire galaxy.”
So believe in yourselves, believe in the Hand in Hand Schools, and continue on your path, because every person is truly an entire world.