Amal Shanty is 28 years old. As we begin the interview on conference call, she shows me the view from a restaurant deck in Gaza city. “It’s the Mediterranean sea!” she says.
A persistent student and a passionate business woman, Amal obtained a scholarship by the Hani Qaddumi Foundation in 2013 to carry out a Master’s in Business administration at the University of Glasgow. But just before leaving for Scotland, a discovery would change the course of her journey.
“I was having mixed feelings for leaving my husband and my son behind; and right before I left I found out I was pregnant with my second child,” she says. “I was very surprised and started crying, thinking that I couldn’t leave with a baby in my belly while leaving another baby in Gaza. But he was very supportive and encouraging, saying that such a chance comes once in a lifetime. So he pushed me to accept it,” she narrates.
Coming from besieged Gaza, her journey out of Palestine was an agony, especially going through the Rafah Crossing. Despite enduring severe pain during pregnancy, she managed to attend classes away from her family and then to witness the Israeli deadly offensive on Gaza in November 2012. “I was about to collapse when I used to see the killing and bombardment over Gaza every day. I was so worried about my family in Gaza. My dream to help my Palestinian community was the only driver to continue my studies”, Amal says.
Managers at the MBA would ask her: ‘how are you going to survive with a baby and pregnant?’ “It made me really insecure,” she recalls. “I told the panel two words: It is my own business. I am a very strong Palestinian woman and I know how to do it”.
Not only did Amal finish her studies while giving birth to her son in Scotland, but also excelled at every stage. “Surprisingly, I got most of my grades with distinction after my delivery and throughout the whole MBA. I graduated with the highest score, surpassing all students at Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow,” she says. Graduated with distinctions and recognized by her peer students and authorities as a role model, Amal went back to Gaza with the comfort of having achieved her goals and three exciting three job offers within the first month.
This interview is part of a series on education in Palestine through the work of Hani Qaddumi Scholarship Foundation. Read more of their stories on their website.