PAYCE Stories

PAYCE Stories

A podcast series created by young adults about making a difference in the United States, Palestine, and Jordan. Hear short, inspiring profiles of young adults using different forms of civic and political engagement. Season one was made by Palestinians and Americans using compelling stories from Des Moines Iowa. Season two from Palestine and around the States brings a new set of inspirational stories about social action and change. Season three are stories from Jordan and Palestine. They wil drop throughout the months of December and January. Season 4 is under production in the West Bank and throughout the U.S. The series is funded through generous support by the Stevens Initiative, Drake University, and Al-Quds Bard College. Episodes are created by Fellows and students in the Palestinian American Youth Civic Engagement Initiative and produced by Darcie Vandegrift.... Show More

Episodes

January 2, 2019 5 min

Try it: You will find yourself.  In this episode, PAYCE Fellow Aya Anwr explores what started development worker Youssef Qahwaji on his path.  When he was thirteen, he had the chance to participate in a Jordanian UNICEF workshop that expanded his horizons.  Seeing things from a different perspective, this was a change point towards his career.  Aya describes how she can identify with Youssef’s story and the insight she draws fro... Read more

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January 2, 2019 5 min

PAYCE Fellow Hannah Curran brings us more of the story of artist Lina Abojaradeh.  Reaching thousands through online posts of her art, Lina overcame self-doubt and fear to become an artist’s voice in exile.  She defines success as a willingness to become unconventional.  Lina wants to move people to change their awareness and do something for the Palestinian cause. 

Song credit to bensound.com, “Memories.”

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January 2, 2019 5 min

The feminist media project created by PAYCE Fellow Zeina Melhem was featured in season two episode “One minute of norms.” Here, she shares the story of how Ruba Ahmad advocates as a hijabi woman to effect change.  Ruba describes her ability to break down the public/private dichotomy as a way to “crack the walls.”   Her work with refugee women is discussed as helping others “use their power” as Ruba admires their capacity to face... Read more

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December 26, 2018 5 min

Lama Amr takes what she calls “weird paths” to find a way forward for a better world.  Working with colleagues, she is a social entrepreneur who has founded organizations BirHakaya and Build Palestine.  Her innovations include reorienting her thinking about Israeli checkpoints and choosing an unexpected college major.  PAYCE Fellow Darrien Alexander Fordham explores a series of choices that have lead Amr to educate and create ch... Read more

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December 26, 2018 5 min

PAYCE Fellow Genesis Guzman begins her podcast episode with a dramatization of negative messages girls receive before turning to Ala’ Hamamreh’s story.  Ala’ is one of the founders of Shaghaf Foundation.  Experiencing the limitations placed on girls as a child, Ala’ noticed these limits and challenged them.  The Shaghaf Foundation holds panels and activities to inspire women for change.  Ala’ notes that women in both Palestine a... Read more

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December 26, 2018 5 min

Youth is sometimes seen as a problem that society has to “deal with.”  PAYCE Fellow Abdullah Hamdan created this episode to refute this mistaken framework.  He explores the story of Jordanian young adult advocate Youssef Qahwaji.  They discuss the summer 2018 peaceful protests in Amman and the personal story of Youssef overcoming failure.  Failure brings positive growth and enables you to value success in life.  The podcast ends... Read more

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PAYCE Fellow Hanan Zahran talks to Omar Husseini about his perspective on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and how he moved from the U.S. to Palestine.  Hanan describes Omar’s work in “unconventional politics” through his job as a liaison to international visitors and his workplace.  He describes why he chooses his form of advocacy given the context for Jerusalemites.  Omar expresses his hope for Palestine and his hope for the f... Read more

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December 19, 2018 4 min

Youssef Qahwaji’s parents wanted him to be a doctor or engineer.  They were disappointed at first when he began to pursue a career in development and planning on projects related to youth empowerment.  As PAYCE Fellow Olivia Graham notes, it’s up to the individual to decide when they will follow someone else’s request, and when they will follow their own intuition.  Music credit by Bensound.com, “cute” and “when in the West.” Read more

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December 19, 2018 6 min

PAYCE Fellow Maddie Bjork explores the issue of women’s empowerment through the story of Ruba Ahmad. Ruba uses her anger and passion to create change and bring into sharp focus what she sees as imperatives for women and refugees.  Ruba and Maddie discuss Ruba's work as a policy assistant at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, wearing the hijab, and the need to elevate the voices of women refugees 

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December 19, 2018 6 min

Ala’ Hamamreh is one of the founders of Shaghaf Foundation, a Palestinian NGO dedicated to projects in digital media and social entrepreneurship that create empowerment for young women.  In this episode, PAYCE Fellow Fadi Abushanab profiles Ala’s work.  ‘Shaghaf’ means passion in Arabic. Ala’ explains the work the organization has done and the changes it has brought her personally.  Ala’ and Fadi challenge the conventional defin... Read more

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December 12, 2018 6 min

PAYCE Fellow Renad Manasra profiles 20 year old Jordanian-based artist Lina Abojaradeh. Moving to Jordan from the United States was a significant change, but she found her voice through art. A Palestinian born in the United States, Lina has never visited Palestine.  She can’t. However, she uses her talent to represent her “homeland political issue.”  Lina found inspiration from other Palestinian artists and began to see art as a... Read more

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December 12, 2018 5 min

Raneem's profile of social entrepreneur Lama Amr reveals a common frustration the two share. PAYCE Fellow Raneem Garhreeb begins her podcast with the sound of an Israeli checkpoint, then pivots to humor through the voice of an American PAYCE colleague.  She does this to show a common experience of Palestinians abroad: Meeting people who confuse their home with Pakistan or who know nothing about the Palestinian situation.  In... Read more

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December 12, 2018 5 min

Omar Husseini bought a one-way ticket to Jerusalem, Palestine.  He never went back.  Instead of returning to California, he stayed in his father’s birthplace.  He advocates for Palestine through his work as a public relations representative in a university.  In response to the limited opportunities faced by Palestinians, Omar, age 28, explains to PAYCE Fellow Bri Dressel that he educates foreigners who come to visit so they can ... Read more

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Mini bonus episode!  PAYCE Logistics Coordinator Omar Husseini.  Summer 2018 Amman participants will know Omar’s logistical brilliance. His story of civic engagement will appear in two of the episodes in season 3.  In this pre-season mini-episode, hear why Omar is proud to play a crucial role in the PAYCE program. Music by bensound.com, "cute".

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December 10, 2018 1 min

Can't wait for the stories from Amman?  Neither can we - they're coming soon!  Here's a shoutout from producer Darcie Vandegrift.

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October 11, 2018 6 min

Salina from Al Quds-Bard interviews the founder of a campus club, Unheard Palestinian Stories.  She and her classmates describe how often it is difficult to tell one’s story.  Founder Baha’ Ebdeir created organization to create beauty out of pain through giving space to tell stories.  However, he and the club ran into a challenge.  There were plenty participants who wanted to speak, but fewer attendees wanted to listen.  Why don... Read more

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Myqueal Lewis (Florida A&M U) presents this moving radio essay about his aspirations to become a teacher.  He thought of many pros and cons of pursuing this profession.  But recent gun violence has raised new questions.  This thought-provoking podcast combines personal reflection and interview with a high school gun control activist.  High schoolers are standing up to demand change to protect their lives.  Having adults who ... Read more

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October 11, 2018 7 min

Huda and Lara from Al-Quds Bard interview storytelling activist Yasmeen Mjalli.  A Palestinian raised in the United States, Yasmeen moved to Ramallah after college.  To challenge the harmful effects of gender harassment, she performed an art project called Not Your Habibti to draw attention to the problem of how women are seen as possessions rather than subjects in control of their bodies and stories.  Yasmeen challenges the ide... Read more

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October 11, 2018 6 min

Is social media an alternative to political apathy? PAYCE Fellow Taylor Zitkus worked with a University of Hartford class to explore student apathy and also new forms of political expression on social media.  Taylor argues that social media counts as political engagement because it is a way to become educated, connect with others, and express important views.  

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In this audio essay, PAYCE Fellow Noura (An-Najah National University) talks about many issues related to economic struggle and poverty.  The Israeli Occupation overshadows all conversations about poverty and can never be ignored.  She outlines the economic challenges faced by college students and their families as students search for a career. Islamic charity reduces public manifestations of poverty. 

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