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Aseel Marabeh

MSc in Humanitarian Action, University College Dublin

Aseel is a communications professional from Palestine. She received a fellowship award in 2017-18 to study a MSc in Humanitarian Action at University College Dublin.

I am Aseel Marabeh, a woman from Palestine, who has crossed vast oceans and lands to the welcoming shores of Ireland. My journey has been long and challenging, but it has brought me to a place where I can pursue my true passion in life - humanitarian work. Throughout my life, I have explored and immersed myself in various fields and professions, trying to find my purpose in this world. However, it was only when I witnessed the struggles of the marginalized and vulnerable populations of my home country that I realised what truly ignited my spirit - to serve and empower others, to bring light and hope to those in need. Through the generosity of the Ireland Fellows Programme, I am now a student of the MSc Humanitarian Action programme at UCD, where I am expanding my knowledge and skills to make a difference in the world.

In Palestine, I worked as the Strategy Communication Officer at Jawwal Telecommunications' Project Management Office. I ensured alignment between different directorates and the company's vision, objectives, image, and five-year strategy. I also initiated projects to improve operations and campaigns, such as creating standardised procedures for managing campaigns and addressing setbacks.

I decided to pursue the MSc Humanitarian Action as throughout my professional journey, I have been unwavering in my commitment to promoting social justice and uplifting the voices of those who have been marginalized or disenfranchised. I have demonstrated this commitment by actively participating in various initiatives and projects aimed at empowering communities and advancing human rights. The programme aligns with my aspirations to become a responsible, principled, and critical practitioner who can make a positive change in the world. Thanks to this programme, I am acquiring fresh perspectives and honing my skills, which will enable me to make an even greater impact on the causes I am passionate about.

Since coming to Ireland, I have gained valuable insights and become more culturally sensitive, with a greater ability to accommodate diverse perspectives and understand others' feelings. Academically, I have been exposed to new ideas and enjoyed stimulating debates with individuals from diverse backgrounds and nationalities. This has been a particularly enriching experience, as I have been able to learn about the struggles faced by other nations, while also highlighting the issues affecting my own people. Moreover, I was fortunate to have found a supportive learning environment that embraced my Palestinian identity and cause, while also providing opportunities to educate others who were interested in learning more. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience, as I have felt seen, heard, and acknowledged.

In addition, by engaging in discussions, completing assignments, and delving into various readings, I have acquired a more profound comprehension of the intricate structures and complexities that govern humanitarian work worldwide. I have also become familiar with the different schools of thought that major organisations adhere to and how these perspectives shape their programs and initiatives. Furthermore, this programme has equipped me with the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle the challenges and obstacles commonly encountered in this field. I have gained insight into how to develop and execute effective and efficient programmes that prioritise the needs of affected communities while challenging the conventional power dynamics that frequently ignore vulnerable populations. My participation in the programme has enabled me to become a professional advocate for human rights, with my unwavering commitment to this cause firmly rooted.

Adjusting to life in Ireland posed some challenges, but I found it exhilarating, given its vast differences from my home country, Palestine. Adapting to new transportation systems, government applications and processes, cultural norms, and weather was not easy. However, since I was fully aware of these differences, I eagerly welcomed this opportunity for personal growth. Initially, it took me about a month or two to fully adjust, but my colleagues and other ICOS fellows supported me by sharing their daily insights and experiences. The ICOS team was also readily available to guide and assist me throughout my transition. My biggest challenge was finding Palestinian cuisine, which I missed after a while. However, this minor struggle motivated me to learn how to cook and develop new culinary skills. I now see this as an opportunity to share my Palestinian heritage and cuisine with other students from diverse nationalities while learning about their cultures.  Currently, during Ramadan, my flatmates and colleagues of different religious beliefs have joined me in fasting and cooking. Meeting new people here has made everything not only easier but also more enjoyable, and I am grateful for this experience.

Now, as I near the end of my programme, I can say that my aspirations have been fulfilled. I am equipped with the knowledge and skills to take on the challenges of this noble field and make a difference in the lives of the marginalised. With my newfound understanding, I aspire to lend a helping hand to the voiceless and amplify the voices of the unheard. I hope to raise awareness about forgotten causes and to stand up for the marginalised with conviction and unwavering determination. My education has empowered me to serve humanity with compassion and empathy, and I look forward to a future filled with opportunities to make a meaningful difference in the world.

The Fellowship has given me the chance to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, learn about their customs and beliefs, and appreciate the beauty of diversity. Each person I met had a unique story and worldview, inspiring me to think beyond my own boundaries. Exploring nature has also been a joyful part of the Fellowship, allowing me to feel a sense of awe and gratitude for the natural world. Overall, the Fellowship has provided me with numerous connections, insights, and experiences that have shaped me into a more empathetic and enlightened person.

I wholeheartedly endorse the Ireland Fellows Programme to my fellow Palestinians. My personal journey in this programme has been nothing short of transformative, and I am confident that others would find it equally rewarding.One of the most significant benefits of the programme is the exposure it provides to the culture, history, and people of Ireland. As someone who cherishes the rich cultural heritage of Palestine, I found it immensely enlightening to learn about the customs and traditions of another nation, and to appreciate the diversity of our world. The programme offers a unique opportunity to expand one's horizons and gain a broader perspective on the world.

My advice for candidates who wish to apply for the Ireland Fellows Programme is to go for it! This is an incredible opportunity to gain a unique perspective and broaden your horizons, both personally and professionally. The Fellowship provides a platform for learning, networking, and collaboration, allowing you to engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures and gain invaluable insights into global issues.Not only will you have the chance to develop your skills and knowledge in your field of study, but you will also have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Irish culture and society, exploring the rich history and vibrant communities that make Ireland so special.

I encourage applicants to prepare themselves before their arrival in Ireland by doing research on the country's culture, norms, transportation systems, governmental processes, and how the country's systems function in general. This will help them to adapt quickly to their new environment and make the most of their experience. Additionally, I recommend that candidates approach the programme with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone and engage with people from different backgrounds. Embrace the diversity of thought and experience that you will encounter during the programme, and use this opportunity to expand your horizons and gain new perspectives.

I highly recommend applying for the Ireland Fellows Programme to anyone who is passionate about learning, growing, and making a positive impact in the world. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, and I'm confident that those who participate will come away from the experience with a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.