Fatena Alghorra – Made in Gaza

Posted on: October 30th, 2017 by sabbadi No Comments

Our Arabic program has been delighted to welcome Palestinian poet and journalist, Fatena Alghorra to an informal conversation with our Arabic students at Loyola University Chicago on September 20, 2017. Fatena has four books of poetry; one received a prize for best Arabic translation into Italian. A fifth book is forthcoming in Arabic and Dutch. In 2012, Fatena won the El Hizjra prize for Dutch language writers of diverse background. She works as a freelance journalist for Al Jazeera, a lecturer and an organizer of poetry events in Belgium and the Netherlands. Please enjoy excerpts of our Arabic students’ reflections on her lecture as part of their Culture Portfolio assignments.

Our Arabic students’ voices:

“I was pleasantly surprised [the lecture] was extremely personable, interactive, funny, and informal…listening to a very informal discussion of her life and experiences, I could learn about so many little, yet important, aspects of Arabic culture…I learned of the necessity of a refugee to create a home within themselves, find a passion, and to carry their culture within them… I loved how the speaker reinvigorated a love of poetry inside me.” (Sydney, Arabic 101)

“This was my first interaction with a refugee…the talk really inspired me, because of her calmness and being at peace with herself…I didn’t think there was as moment when she wasn’t smiling” (Zaira, Arabic 101)

“ It is an inspiration to see such a strong passionate woman succeed in doing what she loves and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to listen to her life story…I want to buy a book of her poems and read through it, and eventually be able to read them as they were originally written, in Arabic.” (Clair, Arabic 101)

“Fatena ended the lecture with a beautiful poem-none of which I understood, but the variations of tones and moods and feelings the poem left me with, I knew I had to emerge and delve into the Arabic culture more.” (Komal, Arabic 101)

“ My perceptions of refugees was changed after this event…Fatena Alghorra, is doubtedly a great model for refugees to become passionate in chasing after their dreams no matter what it is” (Lisa, Arabic 101)

“Fatena is an amazing woman who has broken through many obstacles to achieve so much…I‘ve learned so many things about Arabic culture from her.” Grace, Arabic 101)

“Through Fatena, the richness of the Arabic culture could be seen by the intricate red embroidery on her dress…II often can see myself falling victim to a narrow-minded way of life…Fatena has kindled an interest in me to learn more about this beautiful culture, which is often so looked down on, and I hope that maybe one day I can do the same for others.” (Alyssa, Arabic 101)

“The most touching and interesting moment of the lecture f or me was when another student, who had lost his home to a hurricane at a young age, asked Fatena how she finds a place to call “home.” Her answer was simply that poetry is her only true home.” (Carter, Arabic 101)

“My favorite part of the discussion was at the very beginning when Alghorra said she was “Made in Gaza”…it made me think about myself and what defining moments have made me who I am today” (Julia, Arabic 101)

“Fatena began her lecture with a theatrical introduction. Dressed in a traditional Palestinian dress and scarf which I had recognized from my mother’s closet at home, her outfit told a story on its own…Because of this event, I now have a greater appreciation of the Arabic language and how it related to my own culture” ( Dana, Arabic 101)

“It was surprising to hear that Fatena focused her poetry and journalism on humanities-steering away from political issues….For Ms. Alghorra, poetry was a way to discover and understand herself as a human being. Writing about her fears…Poetry is “not about finding answers, but asking questions.”” ( Ninos, Arabic 101)

“I discovered how beautiful poetry can be even in another language. Although I did not know what Fatena was saying, I could hear the passion in her voice and see it with her body movements. It was truly mesmerizing and beautiful and I am very glad I came out to see her.” ( Ilse, Arabic 101)

“This experience was one I truly enjoyed and learned a lot from. In learning a language, we are also exposing ourselves to a vast array of countries and cultures. It is important to keep these things in mind, as language is not just words spoken, it holds traditions, cultures, emotions, and history within its words. “(Lynn, Arabic 101)

“[Fatena] arrived wearing Palestinian clothing, a Palestinian Keffiyah as a headscarf, and a necklace with the Palestinian flag. Her warming smile and heart immediately invited me to Palestine itself…I was glad to be touched by her words and experiences…As the political/religious conflicts took a toll on her homeland, she didn’t let that take a toll on her life and her Palestinian roots, instead choosing to chase her dreams and change the world. “ (Veronica, Arabic 101)

“ I was unaware of the concept of being a refugee of “your own country”…This was definitely an eye opener…Being able to take part and attend such a lecture is definitely humbling experience” (Alyssar, Arabic 101)

“Fatena was a breath of fresh air…Her display of confidence…was amazing. I did ask if her books would be translated into English anytime soon and she said she hopes so…which makes me want to learn to read Arabic even more because I would love to read her memoir.” ( Kiara, Arabic 101)

“Fatena said, “There are many reasons to cry, we must find reasons to laugh.” Form the beginning her energy shifted the landscape of the room…when I asked her how she finds home when you are homeless, she gave the most beautiful, inspiring answer. She said she found peace in her poetry, something I also connect with.” Larenze, Arabic 103).

“انا احب شِعرها لان اعرف بعض المفردات. احب الاستماع الى فاتنة تتحدث عن طفولتها. بعد تتحدث, انا اريد قراءة الكتابة كثيرا. هذا الحديث جيد جدا”

“I love her poetry because I know some vocabulary…I loved listening to [Fatena] talking about her childhood…after talking, I want to read the writing more….This a very good talk” (Katie, Arabic 103)

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