Nassem from Palestine, Master in Human Rights and Multiculturalism at campus Drammen

Nassem “Moh’d Omar” AlKayal. Photo

I chose to study at USN because the master program they offer “human rights and multiculturalism” is unique and interesting. As a Palestinian, I wanted to study human rights to be able to help in my country.

My name is Nassem “Moh’d Omar” AlKayal, I am 24 years old and I come from Palestine. I have a Bachelor in English Language and Literature\ Minor in Business Administration from Bethlehem University in Palestine

I chose to study at USN because the master program they offer “human rights and multiculturalism” is unique and interesting. As a Palestinian, I wanted to study human rights to be able to help in my country. At the same time multiculturalism is about diversity and tolerance of differences thus it was important for me to study it.  

"A different world"

I arrived in Norway in August, 2014. When I came to Norway everything was new for me, weather, people, food, culture, habits, clothes, language... and many other things. It was like I came to a different world. In the beginning life was not easy for sure, but I cannot say that it was hard. It was challenging for me as a female from the Middle East to leave her country alone to come to a country where I didn’t know anyone. In the beginning I was afraid, but I knew that I wanted to experience life and to see more of the world.

I have had faced many challenges, one of them: dealing with the Norwegian society was not easy in the beginning because it was new and different. I had to deal with new different cultures as I live between international students which was also not easy. One of the challenges also was the freedom of movement. As a Palestinian I’m used to check points when moving from city to city, so it was crazy for me that people can move easily from city to city and from country to country without spending hours on check points.  That was confusing and painful for me.

A learning experience

I can never forget the precious time I have had in Norway. I would label my experience in Norway as the most peaceful period in my life so far. I know I will miss my friends, my place, my teachers, my school, the very light beautiful snow, the most importantly the peace and calm and nature of Norway.

Oh, if I want to talk about what I have learnt I will take more than ten pages. But, I will mention something briefly here:

  • As an international student living between other internationals and surrounded by many cultures I learnt to tolerate, respect and appreciate the differences.  Through that I also learnt to not judge people immediately. I also learnt to be patient, humble and supportive. I know what real friendship means and how to be a good friend.
  • As a person who had to live alone for the first time, I learnt how to be responsible and the importance of managing time and money to be productive and effective.
  • As a female from the Middle East, I learnt how to be strong and independent women.

My research topic:

My master thesis is about Veiled Muslim Women’s Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion in the Norwegian Public Sphere and its Effects on Constructing Their Visible Identities That are embedded in Their Islamic Dress Code.

In the introduction of my thesis I wrote about the reason behind choosing writing on this subject. Choosing this topic to study came as a result of a personal experience of visiting some European countries and living in Norway as a Muslim women who wear the Islamic dress code. Some people looked at me in a way that I did not understand immediately. Later I got that religion and veil have different definitions in Europe than mine. I did not feel comfortable, sometimes I felt different, and sometimes normal. One day in class, I was affirming to my teacher that Islamic dress code is not an issue in Norway as it is in other European countries.  When I said that, my teacher asked me: “Nassem! Are you sure?” As an international student living associating mostly with other international students, I admitted I was not sure. This made me curious about the other veiled women’s experiences and feelings of wearing the veil and Islamic dress code in the Norwegian public sphere, and how these experiences might influence their self-understanding and personal choices.

My main conclusions in my thesis is that I believe that different groups in Norway need to set for a dialogue to know more about each other and so to be able to tolerate each other. I think also that there is a new form of Islam is being produced I would call it “Norwegian Islam”.     

The future

Now that I am done with my thesis I feel so happy, glad and ready to start new life and projects.

I am planning for PhD related to Human rights and Multiculturalism. I hope to make researches on immigrants’ rights and immigration issues in Norway and Europe. I would love also to continue my research on issues related to Islam and Muslims especially women.

I do believe that it is possible to achieve my future plans. From my experience I know that as long as you work hard nothing can be impossible. 

At campus Drammen we have a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Multiculturalism. The intake for this degree is every second year, and the cohort of 2014 are just about to finish their thesis these days.
The program is interdisciplinary, focusing on human rights and culture at local, national, regional and international levels.

The program is designed to accommodate students with degrees in different academic disciplines. It is also a postgraduate degree course in teacher education.

Because human rights knowledge and awareness of the public issues are crucial elements in the realization of human rights, the study of human rights education and human rights in professional practice are important elements in the program.

Read more about the Master Degree in Human Rights and Multiculturalism here.