What’s your name and what are you studying?
Muhammad Bader, and I am studying computer science.
What’s your age?
I turned 25 years old not long ago.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and life?
I am a Palestinian, I live with my mom and two brothers and one sister who got married this year, meanwhile as I mentioned I am studying CS with an excellence degree. I’m in the first two years and I aim to start working at a high-tech company this year. Furthermore, I am volunteering in various places and organisations, one is Seeds of Humanity, which I started volunteering at in 2016, it is a non-profit organisation which aims to provide aid to refugees around the world especially in Greece and Jordan (I travelled to those countries to as part of the expeditions and volunteered as part of the medical team because I have a strong medical background). Another project I am doing is, I am working with other colleagues to build an app for the organisation. And finally, I am volunteering with a Siraj Organization as a mentor for engineering student in Ben-Gurion University and with a small organisation in my village called ‘lasta wahdak لست وحدك’ for special needs children.
How did you end up applying for the Galilee scholarship program?
I applied for the scholarship after hearing about it from a close friend of mine who got it before me and they talked all the time about the cultural events that they participated in. So I got interested and started following Galilee on Social Media and I got to know more about the program, and finally I decided that I should participate in it.
If it wasn’t for the program would you have been able to afford to go to Uni?
Actually, even with the scholarship I have to find a part-time job to pay for all the university and dormitory fees, and personally speaking my father died when I was seven and our financial situation is not that great, so basically, it would have been hard for me to survive without the scholarship.
What for you are the key benefits of the program?
For me, when I first participated in the program, I had a vague idea about our status as Arabs. I’ve never before participated in any kind of educational or cultural program what so ever, and so in my first year with the program, it was something of of shock but a good one. I can relate my awareness of the situation we are in now to the various programs I participated in during second and third year of the program. Whereas before what I knew about was the nomads in the Negev and the south regions, or the Haifa region of the country. Another interesting thing I faced with the scholarship, was getting to know people and students from the west bank. When we visited Bier-zet University, honestly speaking I think that’s the first time that I had talked with people from the west bank who study the same major as me and that was really empowering.
Tell us some of the biggest challenges you face with your studies?
As an Arab student, there are so many challenges we face day-to-day, but I think one of the major challenge we face here is living with the politics and all its complexities day-to-day and minute-to-minute. The way I see it, this kind of life is not that simple to understand or to explain, and for me I really needed someone to iron out my thoughts from time to time regarding the quandary we are in.
What are your goals in life and your plans for after University?
I think this question has many forms. I am a person who is aiming to change everything he does not like. I am looking to get a job to learn how to start a company which will be my entry point into the life I am dreaming of. I want to achieve independence and be able to implement things without relying on a system or a person.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
It is hard to pinpoint one achievement and consider it greater than others, but I think one of my achievements which I am proud of is succeeding in supplying up to 9000 refugees in a camp in Greece with all their needs for winter, including clothes and food. I played a major role in this from planning, organising to implementation at the end.
What has been the most significant change in your life since participating in the Scholarship Programme?
Personally, I consider myself an introverted person when it comes to daily life, and so when talking about this aspect, I can say that my major change was in the way I see things. I mean, after participating in the scholarship programme and simultaneously living as a student in Jewish cities, both those things opened my eyes to a lot of things that I was taking for granted. From looking at how the cities are built to even the street names, I saw how much things are skewed one way.
Tell us why
you consider this change to be the most significant.
As I mentioned before, I am an introvert person, and so this kind of change is basically a core change in me, and so I consider it a major change.
Tell us your favourites
To kill a mockingbird.
The Shawshank redemption
Would you like to give a message to our supporters?
It is only natural for anybody to take a minute and ask himself, why for god sake there are people out there giving away their money to people who they have never met, and possibly never will. But helping is a self-fulfilling deed, helping is so great it cannot be described in words. And that’s my opinion about the matter.
I want to say thank you for making this opportunity possible for me in many ways . It wasn’t just about the financial help, this program changed me in many ways and enriched my life in ways you can’t imagine. And it happened because some people behind the scenes did the heavy lifting for us.
As Jeff Bezos said: ‘when I built Amazon I did not need to create credit cards or the internet or even a table, they were already invented and I just used them, and so all this heavy lifting was done before me and played a major role in where I am now, so I am planning to start the heavy lifting for the next generation in space’.
And I think I am trying to say fairly similar things to you, I needed some money, and I started a part-time job during my studies, but it was really light work, because I knew that you had my back and so I just used it to get here, to almost graduate. I know that someday I will do the heavy lifting for others in hardships.