A Letter from Palestine: by Chowan Alumnus George Zeidan
I am Palestinian, born in the Old City of Jerusalem and raised in its smal streets as well as in Bethlehem, where my dad is originally from. Straight after high school, I was told about an opportunity to attend an American university in North Carolina. When I started at Chowan back in 2009, it was my first experience travelling outside my small community.
Moving to Murfreesboro, North Carolina was nothing like I expected. A small town with just one street, very few people, that shuts down at 6:00 pm. It was only the presence of a McDonald’s that reminded me of my favorite movie – Hollywood took full responsibility for creating my image of America! I went to places and conditions where I was completely outside my comfort zone. I tried to make my presence felt and show up everywhere around the campus. I think of the challenges I faced at Chowan and the profound influence it has had on my life, and imagine how good it has been for me.
At Chowan, people identified me by my name and not a student number. I do feel now the great impact that resulted from my patience and determination to prove that I was just a normal college student who wanted to study, develop, and have a good experience like the rest of the students – no matter where I came from.
I have been fortunate to get a job with an international relief agency working in Palestine, thanks to my degree from Chowan that put me ahead of thousands of unemployed people in my country. It makes me more confident, since I have a long way forward in my life to enhance the situation in Palestine.
I am certainly inspired by the great principles I learned at Chowan like peace and transparency. At Chowan, I was taught the importance of intangible values that weigh much more than what the Hollywood movies show.
Currently, Chowan is still recruiting Palestinian students on a generous scholarship every year. I really hope that this program will continue and will change so many people’s lives as it has changed mine. I urge you to meet with the Palestinian students at Chowan. They have interesting knowledge.
Hope to see you here in the Holy Land on the Chowan-guided tours!
-George Zeidan ’11