Tell us about your path.
Nada Hashweh is currently a Specialist in Empowerment of Women from Migrant Backgrounds at the German Red Cross based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Born and raised in Jerusalem, she has first-hand experience with the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. In many ways, having grown up in a region of constant conflict set her up on her career path, which began from Ramallah Friends School, an IB school in the West Bank, which in turn, led her to Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, and to her career as an advocate for refugees. She cites her volunteer work with the elderly, children and other socially disenfranchised groups at refugee camps in Palestine for her CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project as the foundation to her career goals.
“My experiences back home shaped a lot of who I am today – I grew up knowing that I want is to help my people, but when you are young, you don’t really know how,” says Nada. She also developed an interest in psychology due to personal and observed trauma growing up in Palestine; an interest that stemmed from a will to combat the stigma in Palestinian and Arab culture regarding topics related to mental health, and a curiosity to have a better understanding of how people think. However, she was not able to pursue this academically at her school at the time, as the courses were not offered. Instead, she opted for a more science-focused path, and took Chemistry, Math, and Biology, as well as Arabic, English, and Business. She took full advantage of her time at Ramallah Friends School in other aspects as well, even though she had two to three-hour commutes to school due to checkpoints along the way from her home in East Jerusalem to Ramallah.
“All the teachers knew me because I was the perpetually tardy student,” she recalls, while laughing, “They were very understanding though.” She was an active participant in Model United Nations, having attended conferences in The Hague and Jordan, and participated in summer programs, which took her to different areas in the United Kingdom. Having met many international students through these activities, she attained an international outlook, which was one of the important factors for her when the time came to consider university options abroad.
What attracted you to Jacobs out of all the other possibilities you were considering?
“I knew about Jacobs already because my older sister attended this university, and she always only had good things to say about it.”
She had initially also considered options in the United States, but found that Jacobs University was one of the few options in Europe at the time that offered the study program she was interested in, Integrated Social and Cognitive Psychology, and an international community. The fact that she was also offered a scholarship and a financial aid package along with having access to research and internship opportunities were big pluses for her, which is why she made the decision to attend Jacobs University.
How about your major?
She thought the courses she took as part of her study program helped sort out the experiences she had, and provided the foundation to have a deeper, academic understanding of the field of psychology. In addition to having the resources to conduct experiments and living on campus with people from different cultures, she was also able to take elective courses on social issues, such as human trafficking, disability studies, and social inequality, which gave her a broader understanding of society. During her three years at Jacobs University, she also did an internship at a Palestinian counseling center in the West Bank where she worked with professors from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and conducted research.