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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Rima Mahmoud Fastened Palestinian Flag in Campus Center

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Political Science, BA 2010, Conflict Resolution, MA 2012 

The first thing Rima Mahmoud did as a member of Students for Justice in Palestine was to fasten a Palestinian flag to the banister with all of the flags in the Campus Center. SJP started during the Occupy Movement on the impetus of one of Mahmoud’s professors.
“Me and a few other students formed the group,” Mahmoud says. “A professor who was active in Boston put us in touch, as we each talked to her about our interest in issues in Palestine.  She sent an email to all of us and said, all of you have mentioned this to me. You might want to talk together and think about forming a group.”
After putting up the flag, SJP organized a fund raiser to bring clean water to Gaza. 
“We raised almost $58,000,” Mahmoud says. “We got student groups, the faculty, and different departments to sponsor us. We knew the resources were there and we were able to go out and ask people.” 
At UMB Mahmoud learned to be proactive. 
“There are resources everywhere that you go. There are people with different experiences, and different connections, and what it comes down to is you need to know what you want, and then you can go and ask for it, and there are people there that are going to go and help you make it happen.” 
Mahmoud started as a Biology major at UMB, but as she got involved in the many protest movements that were on campus at the time her interests began to shift.
“At some point during my Junior year I got to learn more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I got to learn more about the different solutions that are available, and then from there I realized that there’s a program that directly teaches you how to do these things, and went from there into a completely different career path.” 
She was hanging out at the Mass Media, and met a student there who was in the Conflict Resolution program. 
“He was telling me about the program, and had a course book with different classes being offered. It was my last semester of undergrad, and I had been considering going to grad school or law school at that point.” 
She was already in the midst of an independent study on the Palestine-Israel controversy. 
“I think that was my favorite part about UMass Boston, the flexibility that you get, the fact that you can design your own major as long as you can get it approved by a professor.” 
For her capstone in undergrad Mahmoud spent a year studying the nuances of a one state solution for Palestinians and Israelis, and she wanted to continue in grad school. 
“For someone like me who already has the background, I wanted something more in depth. I was able to do it for over a year, and work with this professor who’s an expert in the field” 
Mahmoud moved from Jordan to the US a year before matriculating into UMB. 
“Based on the research that I quickly did it seemed like it was a different type of education. Also it was cheaper than a lot of other schools, but it was also the fact that it was a commuter school.”
“I knew that I was going to commute to school, so that was a big deal for me that it was a commuter school, because at that point I didn’t feel like I would be missing out on anything that was happening in the dorms.” 
At UMB Mahmoud found a community outside of the classroom by seeking out activities on campus. One day, as she was finishing up her first semester of grad school, she heard that professor Paudrig O’Malley, an internationally known peacemaker, was starting an international conference with delegates from different cities that are divided by conflict. The goal was to bring people from disparate situations together to talk about their experiences living in the midst of wars and conflicts.
“I heard that he might be taking some students with him, and I remember getting his email address and getting his assistant’s email address and emailing them, and saying hey I’m really interested in this. Here is how I can help you. This is how your program can help me. Within three days I had a ticket, and I was on my way to Kosovo.” 
The conference was in Metqrovista. 
“It’s divided by a river,” Mahmoud says. “The Albanians and Serbians are living on different sides and they rarely cross the river, so there isn’t much interaction that is happening, but there’s a lot of anger and it was horrible conflict that happened.” 
A total of 12 cites participated, and the cohort included delegations from Israel, Palestine, Ireland and Lebanon. 
“A big part of it was learning about their conflicts, and then speaking to them and knowing that there are certain things that you can’t say, certain words you can’t use. For example someone typed up a quick summary about what’s happening and mentioned this Palestinian, and they used the words ‘collaborated with Israelis,’ and the term ‘collaborate’ for Palestinians just immediately means a traitor, so it was a big deal, and it was actually a very sensitive issue that came up and we had to quickly figure out a solution so that it didn’t escalate.” 
“It was a real life experience of learning how to deal with people in conflict in general because they tend to be a lot more sensitive and less forgiving when it comes to mistakes, because these mistakes have symbolic meaning.” 
When she returned to UMB Mahmoud got a chance to help a professor design a course about the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, and then helped teach students how to negotiate on behalf of those parties. 
“Every professor I emailed about working with them on a project, or to ask what projects do they have, I’d hear back within 48 hours telling me come to my office let’s talk. Let’s figure out what you’re interested in and I’ll tell what I’m working on, and we’ll speak about funding. I think most people just don’t know about it or just don’t ask.” 
After grad school Mahmoud worked in the conflict department of a law firm in Boston. This fall she started law school at BU. 
“I’m taking everything that I learned from UMass with me to these experiences,” she says. “My understanding of the world completely changed. Not everyone is living the same way that I am, and that even with all of the differences everybody’s perspective is important.”

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010