Promoting education, cultural and livelihood initiatives for Palestinians in Israel

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Shaping careers & fulfilling dreams: How Galilee helps students

The Galilee Foundation has been providing scholarships for Palestinian students in Israel to access higher education for ten years now. Since the establishment of the Programme, the Galilee has supported over 1,100 students and helped create countless opportunities!

For this round of “Meet the Student” we speak to Bassel Abu Elhaida – who is a true example of how access to higher education can change one’s life! Bassel is 23 years old and coming to the end of his degree at Technion University. Bassel is from Tamra, a town in the Galilee and studies Computer Science. Whilst university has been challenging, with the support of the Galilee Foundation, Bassel has acquired the skills and knowledge that have led him to a job at Apple – one of the leading and largest multinational technology companies in the world.

“I decided to study Computer Science when I was in high school. When I was 17 years old, I heard about this field and where it could take me – I was so excited! I read into it and knew I wanted to study it further. I knew I wanted to go to the Technion from then as it is the best institute in the country for computer science! I cannot believe I am now here and so close to my graduation – it has been an amazing experience and I have made so many great memories!”

Bassel received the Galilee Foundation Scholarship for his first three years of university. Without the scholarship, many students would not be able to follow their dreams of going to university and getting that step closer to their dream job. Getting to university can be a daunting process, and for many, the scholarship means that they can fully invest their time in studying instead of worrying about financial issues or burdening their families with debt.

“Being a student in the Technion was never an easy one for me. It was hard to adapt to my new life-style. From my home in Tamra, which is a reasonably small town, to a big city like Haifa and a university like the Technion – it was a big learning curve. The life of a Technion student is hard because it demands all your time. I didn’t really have a social life outside of campus in the first 3 years of my study! Now I am approaching the end of my studies and I have finally managed to see my friends and family a little more!

The scholarship helped me a lot in this aspect. With a very limited social life, the multiple things we got to do as part of the scholarship were very interesting and meant I could meet amazing new people! As part of the scholarship I also managed to volunteer with a Haifa based cultural organisation.

The financial side of the scholarship was a very important one. To be honest, I first enrolled for the scholarship mainly because of its financial support! I have a brother who studies Nursing at Tel Aviv University, so my parents would have really struggled to pay for both of us – the scholarship helped me and my family a lot in this respect! I’ll always be grateful for this.”

One year ago, Bassel’s dreams started to become a reality when he started working for Apple alongside his studies – something that would not have been possible without the support of the Galilee scholarship.

“It is really a pleasure to work for such a prestigious company like Apple, especially as they have so much faith in you. When I sign my full-time contract with them [in two months], I’ll be the youngest engineer working at Apple in Haifa! I really love this! I am so proud to work for such a company at the start of my career. I have dreamt of this since high school, but I didn’t think this would happen at the start of my career. It’s like a dream come true for me! Especially after all the time that I have invested in my studies.

I wouldn’t be here without the scholarship because working in this role demands a Computer Science or Electrical Engineering degree. So without Galilee and the opportunity to come to university, I would not have made it to Apple!”

Finally, what advice would Bassel give to Palestinian students in Israel at the moment?

“I’d say to others that although the journey is long, it is important to keep faith in yourself. Here in Israel, we do not have many options – education is our most important weapon. We should gain it and use it wisely. The scholarship is one of the most beautiful and important things that has happened to me! I’d highly recommend participating in it to everyone.

I want to thank the Galilee and their supporters very much for this amazing programme! I’m really grateful for all the effort all of you invest in the Palestinian students! I will never forget this in my entire life.”