Three female students have won the top prizes in the Mishwar Taleb competition, organized by Al-Fanar Media to describe the challenges and the rewards of university life.
Romaisa Al Saghir, an Algerian doing a Ph.D. in electronic journalism, won first prize for a short film that describes her experience of studying far from home. The film also looks at the psychological difficulties faced by some university students.
Her compatriot Inas Sammari came in second with an article about the difficulties of raising the tuition fees for her master’s degree studies in Malaysia.
Jihan Qarchi, a Tunisian, won third prize for a blog which pointed to the change that university life has brought about in her personality.
The first prize was a cash grant of $500; the other two winners each received $100.
The competition, a content creation contest, was launched on June 22, to coincide with the new edition of Al-Fanar Media’s scholarship database. The closing date for entries was September 5.
“The competition succeeded in motivating students and recent graduates to publish their experiences related to university life”, said Nasser Zawk, director of digital communications at Al-Fanar Media.
“I felt an overwhelming desire to share my humble university experience, and I also thought about the students’ need for psychological support and to learn about the experiences of other students who preceded them.”Romaisa Al Saghir
An Algerian doing a Ph.D. in electronic journalism
“The competition helps to understand the challenges that new learners face and also revealed opportunities that can be taken advantage of during the education journey, in addition to granting them the opportunity to share their stories and visions about higher education and its challenges.”
Difficulties Make Heroes
Al Saghir said her film showed how the experience of studying media at a university 600 kilometers from her home city has given her new values. “The undergraduate life is full of difficulties, and those difficulties often make a hero,” she said.
“I felt an overwhelming desire to share my humble university experience, and I also thought about the students’ need for psychological support and to learn about the experiences of other students who preceded them.”
Al Saghir said she expected to win, but it was a “distinctive moment” when she learned that she had.
Sammari too wanted desperately to win. “I was very excited to share my experiences with others,” she said. “I like volunteer work, and winning has increased my enthusiasm and passion for working hard.”
Commenting on her difficulties with tuition fees, Sammari said: “Strong winds, no matter how strong they are, the mountains never bend.”
Qarchi, the third-place winner, said the competition had a positive impact on her life. “I have learned how to express myself and to seek to share my experiences in the university grade with students and youth in different countries,” she said. “My professors and colleagues at the university are my family, for whom I strive for excellence and ascent.”
Other candidates used the competition to show how political and economic problems in their countries added to the pressures on them.
Farah Shamas began studying optics at the Faculty of Science and Technology at the Modern University for Business and Science in Lebanon in October 2019, the month of the civil protests known as the October 17 Revolution. She described her attempt to balance her passion for politics and theater with her studies.
“The Mishwar Taleb competition helped me break down a large number of barriers. I was a reticent person and now I am able to express myself in writing.”Inas Sammari
Second-place winner in Al-Fanar Media’s Mishwar Taleb competition
“No one can ban creativity or border the imagination by promoting the separation of science from art, whether in the educational curricula of schools or universities,” she explained.
The biggest challenge facing Naef Al Sanawi, a Yemeni citizen, was, he said, “how to combine my work with my academic life, as I cannot leave my job to devote myself to studying, as it is the only source of my income that I rely on.”
Mohamed Abdul Qader Lababidi, a Syrian citizen, said he began studying law “under duress.” But as he read, he found he wanted to “know more than the college I joined.” Reading “increased my desire to complete my studies,” he said.
“an excellent experience full of enthusiasm and challenge among participants from almost all Arab countries.”Jihan Qarchi
A Step Forward
Al Saghir believes that the competition has strengthened her scientific curiosity and increased her passion for knowledge and her ability to reach her goals. “I hope it will act as a catalyst for more ambitious stages,” she said.
For Sammari, the competition has greatly changed her personality. “The Mishwar Taleb competition helped me break down a large number of barriers. I was a reticent person and now I am able to express myself in writing,” she said.
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Qarchi sees Mishwar Taleb as “an excellent experience full of enthusiasm and challenge among participants from almost all Arab countries.”