Ahmad Zaqout ’19 is a four year student from Gaza, Palestine. He is here at Roanoke College on a Diana Kamal scholarship to study international relations. He was supposed to start here last semester, but could not get the visa in time because he was not allowed to leave Gaza immediately following the war last summer.
This is not Ahmad’s first time in the United States, however. He first came to the US in 2012 to participate in a summer camp in Maine called Seeds of Peace. This camp aims to bring together youth from conflict regions around the world. Ahmad joined the camp as a Palestinian to engage in dialogue sessions with Americans, Israelis, and other Palestinians. Without this experience, Ahmad says that he would not be here now at Roanoke College. He feels that this program was enormously beneficial for the participants and it broadened his horizon of understanding.
Last summer, during the Gaza war, Ahmad began writing for an American magazine called Youth Journalism International. He wrote about his daily life throughout the war. That experience, along with many others, made him aware of the fragility of life. It also made him more eager to seek an educational future outside of Gaza. He believes that there are more educational opportunities for him in the United States, in the sense that he will be better equipped to make a change in Palestine in the future.
Ahmad’s motivation, determination, and hope has led him to pursue a 4-year degree in international relations. He is somewhat hopeful for a reconciliatory future for Palestinians and Israelis, and is helping prepare for the Israel-Palestine Peace Month on campus this spring. He intends to obtain his Ph.D. and dreams of working toward a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.