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Report from the ‘Mondo Awards’ in Gaza

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(All Photos: Yousef M. Aljamal)

On Monday, March 28th The Center for Political and Development Studies in Gaza organized a ceremony to honor the winners of “The Mondo Awards” for their creative writing in English. “The Center held this celebration as an initiative to pay more attention to the young talented writers, encouraging them to keep writing, upgrading them to the international standards and helping them to spread the Palestinian culture globally” said Mahmoud Alhirthani, CPDS chairman. He added, “The CPDS mission aims at developing and rehabilitating the Palestinian young people, culturally and intellectually.”

Sameeha Elwan (left) accepting her award.

The ceremony began with an opening speech by Alaa al-Shawa, who welcomed the audience and congratulated the winners. “Organizing this ceremony today is an expression from our side to support and encourage these young people, and to promote their creative talents,” said Alshawa. She added that this celebration marked the beginning of a special program for the CPDS to promote the talents of the students in co-ordination with other skills, thus contributing in opening new horizons to them, and encouraging them to develop their cultural and foreign relations.

Rawan Yaghi (left) accepting her award.

For his part Dr. Hani ALBassos, the CPDS vice-president said, “honoring the winners is an expression from the CPDS’s administration to the winners and it represents a strong belief that these young youths are able to spread Palestinian culture, deliver our message and issues to the outside world, and register their place on the map of world.” He stressed that these young people demonstrated a high potential of excellence, as they succeeded to win three awards out of the seven that were assigned in the Competition that included participants from all over the world.

Dr. ALBassos made clear that the CPDS’s administration wanted to embrace and encourage youth innovation, and refine their talents in order to interact with Palestinian institutions in addition to the world. He also pointed out that this celebration came as the CPDS planned to pay more attention to the cultural and intellectual innovations of the Palestinians youth, to help show them to the world.                       

Mohammed Suliman (left) accepting his award.

I read a speech on behalf of Mondoweiss co-editors Philp Weiss and Adam Horowitz that thanked the center for organizing this celebration to honor the winners in this competition, and the contributors to the ” Gaza- two years after the war ” series. The statement pointed out that this competition aimed at sharing the reality of the Gaza strip which the world must be informed about. Weiss and Horowitz also pointed out that the discussions in the United States about Gaza are often associated with violence and condemnation, but through this competition the winners showed another view about Gaza. 

Dr. Nihad ALSHaikh Khalil, a lecturer in the history department at IUG, said that the participation of Palestinian young people in this competition demonstrated their abilities to live up to globalization, and represent their country in the international forums to defend their people’s issues. Dr. Khalil urged the students to use the modern tools of technology, but also to protect themselves from modern culture too, pointing out that the world is witnessing significant shifts and profound changes that require young people to bear the burden.

At the end, the winners talked to the audience abut their participation in this competition and what they gained via this participation and briefed their stories in this competition.  Sameeha Elwan talked about her experience writing, that began after the 23-day war. She mentioned her mother’s reaction when she learned that Samehaa was writing. Her mother said,”You write about politics,” and Sameeha responded, “no mom, I write about you, my life and Palestine and ironically, our life is politics.” Mohammed Suliman talked about his experience and how he started blogging and writing about Palestine. Also, he talked about Mondowiess and how he was able to publish his first article there. Rawan Yaghy read the story that won the Mondo award before the audience. The winners all thanked the CPDS center for celebrating them.

At the end of the celebration the board of administration honored the winners, and MP Hussam Altaweel stressed out the importance of Unity to achieve Palestinian goals.

Yousef M. Aljamal

Yousef M. Aljamal is a refugee from Gaza and currently is doing his PhD in Middle East Studies at the University of Sakarya in Turkey. He is the translator of Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak.

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