Courtesy of Sleepless in Gaza:
I Must Be Dreaming
Countless nights were spent looking for the perfect course in the perfect university. Because I had many friends in the UK, I thought it would be the perfect place for me since I am a people-oriented person. The mission of finding the best university wasn’t easy because of the endless available choices. Many universities were contacted regarding courses, fees and other unstated information.
The University of Westminster was the university I’ve chosen amongst over a hundred universities in the UK. Furthermore, it was very pleasing to me finding a course of my interest. A course I believed that I would do my best at. A course that will greatly improve my skills, pushing them beyond the imaginary edge I have put for. I couldn’t find a better course that from the very first moment I thought was tailored for ambitions, my needs, and me.
For over two weeks, I collected all the necessary documents for the admissions application, which I was all hope of getting. It took the university over 2 months to finally email me with an unconditional offer to pursue my MSc Business Intelligence and Analytics, which brought joy to my heart like nothing before. I would never forget how I felt that day upon reading the offer email.
Though the email came 4 days later the Palestinian European Academic Cooperation in Education (PEACE) Scholarships. But thanks to one of my closest friends, Shoruk, who had helped me so much, calling many different people in different offices around the University and Canvedish House. Without her help, applying to the scholarship with an exception to apply via email wouldn’t be possible.
I applied to the scholarship four days late because the admission came out late as I mentioned earlier and I was all hope that it works with me right for once and for all. It was the only opportunity for me to pursue my dream and get my masters degree from one of the prestigious universities in the UK, the University of Westminster, and see the world (or at least London) for the first and probably the last time in my life.
Living in Gaza is a challenge in itself. The ultimate challenge to anybody on earth would be to live in Gaza, and most importantly survive. Endure endless collective punishment reaching out to over 1.5 million citizens in the biggest-in-history open-air prison. Long-period long-term power cuts, polluted drinking water, which is not suitable for human use, severe shortage in medical supplies, and the list goes on forever.
Upon submitting the scholarship application via email, the scholarships office at the University emailed me back confirming receipt of the scholarship application and that results will come out in late July. Submitting the application in early June meant that I would have to wait for two months before I hear from them regarding the scholarship.
Two months were the longest I’ve ever lived till this moment. Two months full of mixed feelings. Anxiety, worrying, hopes, dreams, ambitions, and a major life turning point. Countless sleepless nights, and nightmares (when I could sleep for a few hours). A period of time I never wish even my enemies to live or experience.
I anticipated the unknown time at which the university will email me regarding the scholarship on which, almost everything-if not all- was dependent. Imagine the possibilities available upon being able to pursue your higher degree and all the things associated with it.
Not receiving any email from the university as the end of July approached started to feel creepy. The closer then end of the month becomes, the creepier the feeling gets. But in spite of all of that, never did I lose faith and hope in getting it.
July has ended, and we are in August already, counting days away from the period in which, the university was supposed to contact me regarding the scholarship. Things started to feel creepy and more worrying by the minute. Till a dear friend, Emma, told me that she would gladly call the university and ask them regarding my matter. Emma’s call was relieving, Alhamdulillah. They told her that they would reply today or tomorrow.
The day ended and it’s time for iftar now. Twenty minutes later, I followed my instinct and went to my computer to check my email to find that the university has finally sent me an email. I was very happy by then.
I open the email to read the most shockingly devastating email I have ever read:
Dear Nader,I regret to inform you that the Scholarships Committee, after great deliberation, has not been able to award you a scholarship for the September 2011 intake. The committee met over a number of days and each case was carefully reviewed. We had a great many applications, over 2500, for a limited number of scholarships, so the competition was particularly intense this year.Please be assured that every application was given due consideration. I am sorry that we have to disappoint you and wish you every success in your future.Please note that all decisions made by the Committee are final and not open to re-consideration.
Devastated and broken is how I felt (and still do) after reading such a catastrophic email. Now that the major life turning point opportunity has gone, fundraising remains the only option for me. Without
enough funds, I would never be able to pursue my masters degree, nor achieve my dreams.