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Tala Zeitawi

MA in Creative Practice, GMIT

I hope that my time in Ireland and on this course at GMIT will enhance my work raising awareness of neglected communities, particularly those living in crowded refugee camps, through documentaries.

I’m a freelance documentary photographer and filmmaker and the focus of my work is on cultural diversity, minorities and marginalised communities in Palestine. My most recent project focused on a refugee camp that is not supported by any local or international funding, and that is located in the middle of Ramallah City. From the perspective of children, I focused on the personal stories of different families, the hardships they experience, and the unhygienic space they live in. Through making these documentary films, my goal is to raise awareness of abandoned societies and failures in human rights. 

To broaden my knowledge critically, theoretically and practically, and to strengthen my career prospects, I applied to study at GMIT on the MA in Creative Practice through the Ireland-Palestine Scholarship Programme. I wanted to improve my skills and learn from people from different backgrounds and cultures. The course allows me to observe and learn from the creativity of different people, incorporating many types of art, and has exposed me to imaginative, experimental and interdisciplinary studies through a range of media and approaches. 

After just a few months, I am already more confident when presenting my work. I have a better ability to focus on the themes and issues in multiple projects, and to overcome these issues. It is also making me focus on how to show my work professionally through social media, museums and galleries, and how to achieve my professional goals. The field trips that the programme arranges have shown me different ideas, skills and creativity. 

I have gained knowledge about how to use social media to get my work recognised. I have learned how to plan my research, to focus on the key issues and debates, and how to summarise my research in a single sentence. The course focuses on our future goals and careers, which I like, so we will work on our biographies and CVs and our inspirations. We will also work on writing proposals for funding for our projects. This is all in addition to my own research, and I am currently working on two projects: the first focuses on social farming; the second is a documentary about children with post-traumatic stress disorder in Palestine. I hope that my time in Ireland and on this course at GMIT will enhance my work raising awareness of neglected communities, particularly those living in crowded refugee camps, through documentaries.  

I have been astonished by the friendliness of the people in Ireland since I arrived. Living in a country where people in the streets are always happy and ready to help definitely makes it feel like home. I think being completely independent is one of the best experiences to encounter. Being in a country where I do not know anyone, and where I don’t know where different places, cities or grocery stores are, forces me to test myself. After I leave Ireland and return home, I will miss many things, including being able to travel freely without checkpoints, experiencing different cultures, the friendly people, the independence. Living in Ireland has made me realise that Palestinians and the Irish have so many things in common, not only historically, but also culturally. 

I believe that opportunities like the one I have been given as part of the Ireland-Palestine Scholarship Programme help us to improve our country. I have already recommended this scholarship to everyone I know. The process has been made as easy as possible, from the application process, to travelling to Ireland, to the events in Ireland where I have met other scholarship recipients. It is a very good opportunity to not only study at master’s level, but also to get to know different societies and cultures, and to see the amazing green nature in Ireland.