Writen by : Nadine Aranki. Translated by: Majd Bani Namira.

She roamed the room back and forth, searching for the nearest table to stand in front of. She went tick tock tick with her red winter shoes to the nearest door and said, “I want the lights on while I’m talking.” She stood beside the chair in front of the table, while holding the tip of her long black hair that was falling on her shoulders, to ease the tension of the situation. A few short sentences, mixed with Arabic and English, relieved all the tension and she dived in the presentation. She approached the table a little bit, where she left her book. She touched its notable protrusions at times, and left it to address her audience, with all that she can remember, at other times. That’s how Shorouq ended her final semester at Birzeit University, graduating from the Department of English Language and Translation after discussing her seminar about The Role of Heritage Songs in Highlighting Palestinian Identity.

Birzeit… The Warm Embrace
Shorouq studied at a school for the blind before moving to the Evangelical School in Ramallah. She chose Birzeit University to pursue her studies and about why she chose to specialize in English, she said, “I’ve loved languages since I was a kid and I interacted more with the English classes in particular,” With joy, Shorouq recalls her university experience, “When I first entered the university, I felt surprised by how social the students were and how easy it was to make friends. I mean, the first year at the university was the best year for me. I was always out with my friends and I had no difficulty in fitting in with the students,” Shorouq thinks that college is an important experience where we evolve from one stage to another and end up with a bigger and more opened mind, she adds, “At the beginning of my college life, I was more sensitive when dealing with people, but as time went by, I learned how to deal with things and to respect differences.”

Talent Knows No Boundaries
Shorouq spent four and a half years in the corridors of Birzeit studying English and practicing the Qanun instrument. 22-year-old Shorouq sees with her mind as she sees with her fingertips ever since the age of eight; when she started playing this musical instrument. She says, “There is no doubt that the beginning had been difficult, but the love for the instrument, the talent and the motivation to learn make the experience unique and beautiful,” adding, “It needs perseverance, nothing comes easily.” Shafi’i plays the musical pieces of Umm Kulthum and Fayrouz. There is a special connection between Shorouq and the Qanun; it’s her refuge when she feels upset and is her source of inspiration.

With the encouragement of friends and family, Shorouq has participated in several musical shows with a number of companies and institutions, including the Friends of Thalassemia Patients Association, the Tamer Foundation and the International Book Fair. And about her musical activities, she says, “Now I have less connection with the instrument because I’m busy with college, but I aspire to continue my musical career because it’s one of the things that bring me comfort.” She also recalls that her family is interested in music, too. Her elder brother plays the oud, violin, and organ.

In addition to music, Al Shafi’i listens to audiobooks and is interested in listening to Arabic and English books from Al Manarah International Library, The Egyptian Radio, Television Union and the Cultural Program Radio in Egypt. In which, she was able to identify many writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia and Maurice Tarling that is in addition to enjoying the recorded novels and plays.

For Shorouq, the journey doesn’t end here and despite the fear of the unknown, she seeks to find a job in the field of either oral translation or in radio stations. Shorouq Al-Shafi’i has broken all the challenges and graduated from Birzeit University.

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