Meet Tamar The Girl Who Is Going To Make A Change

Meet Tamar Haddad. The girl who’s name who will want to remember because one day she is going to make a change in the world,  in her home country of Palestine.

Her Campus at Cal Lutheran: Where are you from?

Tamar Haddad: I’m from Jerusalem, Palestine. Even though when I say I’m from Jerusalem, people say “oh you’re from Jerusalem, Israel?” For me it’s not really Israel because I’m from the eastern part which is the Palestine part for me. But people are not familiar with that which is very sad. Knowing the person, if they say Jerusalem where exactly Palestine or Israel it would tell me so much about them. It’s rare, especially here. Almost never.

HCCLU: What was your education like and what is your goal?

TH: I have a BA in English (from Palestine). After I graduated I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had an idea in mind of I want to do- a masters in development and education just to make a change in the education system and develop it. But I’ve always wanted to study music. That is what I wanted to major in but it wasn’t very accepted in my family, they just didn’t like the idea of it. What they didn’t understand is why I didn’t go for a master’s degree because you already have a BA. But I can’t do a masters in music. I will do a masters afterwards because I have all the time in the world, it doesn’t matter.

HCCLU: What do you want to do in the future?

TH: We have this ministry of education that doesn’t want to change, it’s impossible. My father works in that field and he tries to convince them to give them new ideas to become better but they never want to become better. It’s a very bad system. So, since I can’t change that I might add to it. So what I was thinking of doing when I go back is to provide leadership courses for them (students) because it’s something I’ve studied.

HCCLU: How did you get this idea?

TH: I was in DC last year at Georgetown University, for a leadership program that was held, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), we implemented programs and we applied them. So I was thinking of doing something very similar. I want other students to have the same opportunity, yet they can’t travel or their chances are not as high as other students, so what can I do to have everyone have the same experience as I did? I can bring the program to them.  Just changing the way students think from a one-way of thinking. I just want to open their minds to try to think in a creative, a more logical way.

                                                                    Tamar at MEPI in DC 

HCCLU: What ages do you think could be a part of this program?

TH: My project I did in Palestine was actually for younger kids. I believe it’s hard after they grow up when they have a mature brain to change them. But when they’re young and they grow up with a different idea of thinking then it’s easier for them. But for this kind of thing university level is good.

HCCLU: What was university like in Palestine?

TH: I was surrounded by people who want to make a change as well. When I graduated there were only 20 people in my class so these 20 people would want to make a change. Most of them were women, we just had one guy. They were very empowered. We would actually sit down and think of ways ideas of how we could do it. No matter how small.

HCCLU: What were those 20 other empowered women like?

TH: As for empowerment of women in Palestine I see many strong women. I know so many people who actually did things but you’re probably not familiar with them. But I can give you one example. A girl called Yesmeen Majalli, she lived in the US her entire life and then she goes back to Palestine around 18 which is a different environment especially as a woman because you have hardships.

HCCLU: What were those hardships like?

TH: It’s not as equal as here. People here say oh there is no equality in America but once you go there you will see real inequality or anywhere in the Middle East. It’s getting better but it’s very bad to me especially when you study English literature and you know things you never knew. I actually had no idea that things were supposed to be this way, it’s the normalization of it.

HCCLU: Who is Yesmeen?

TH: This girl goes to the West Bank and she’s not used to harassment, sexual harassment, most of the time its verbal but she doesn’t like it of course, so what does she do? She started her own jacket brand, “Not Your Habibti” or darling. It means don’t try to intimidate me in the street, you have nothing to do with me! Which is a cool idea, I like it. No matter how small, it’s just a simple jacket but people in the US buy it. I see it everywhere here, I see it here more than Palestine!

HCCLU: What is it like living in America compared to Palestine?

TH: American’s think that they’re living hell, they keep complaining about thing they shouldn’t complain about cause honestly when you see other things and what women can go through in other places you can’t even compare. It’s bad for me to make Palestine sound this bad but I do want to make a change and you can’t change something that’s perfect, it’s nothing even near perfect. So a change has to happen.

HCCLU: Can you give me an example of how it needs to change?

TH: I want to change the mentality, it’s very corrupt. I would see a video of a homosexual speaking up and then the comments on the video are so bad. That is why I think leadership is very important. When I took the leadership program in DC it changed my whole mindset. I came back a different person. I know what is wrong and what is right. The mentality changes, you open your eyes to things. I mean even homosexuality in the Bible and according to a course here I took at CLU it’s not wrong, yet in my culture and in my religion its wrong and people are convinced about it.

HCCLU: Where do you hope to see yourself in five to ten years’ time?

TH: I honestly just want to be someone who can make a change no matter how small it is. That’s why I would want to work in the development and education in Palestine.

                                                                  Tamar at Havard for MUN in February

HCCLU: How did you come to Cal Lutheran?

TH: I have a full scholarship by ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) called International Women’s Leaders.

HCCLU: How do you like Cal Lutheran so far?

TH: I like it. At first I was surrounded by people who had negative energy but now that I am seeing more, and there are many things to do. I got to go to Harvard with the Model United Nation's club (MUN) and I’m going to Chicago for the International Women Leaders program through my scholarship. I got to work in HUB 101 which actually made me very interested in entrepreneurship so now I’m adding entrepreneurship as a minor.

HCCLU: How do you like California?

TH: It was very different for me. I like the places in California, that’s one of the main reasons I chose it. My scholarship I could choose any Lutheran university in the world and I chose here.

HCCLU: Do you have a quote or inspiration that you like to look up to?

TH: I don’t know. I have this one quote but it’s such a cliché quote! “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I do believe in that, if you change yourself then trust me you’re going to make so much change. Just one person but you’re not alone but there are so many other people trying to make a change in themselves and if they do they’re going to make a bigger change. I like the idea of pay it forward. If somebody does something for you just try to help people or do something different. Make a change.

All Photos Courtesy of Tamar Haddad