Besan is 23-years old and lives in Beir Nabala, a small village northwest of Jerusalem. A first impression reflects her commitment to Islam, dressed in the traditional hijab (head scarf) and jilbab. Staying true to her faith, every morning she performs ablutions prior to completing the first of her five daily prayers. Afterwards, she insists on drinking a much- needed cup of Nescafe (Palestinian alternative to American coffee) in order to continue with her day, confirming that coffee addictions are universal. Only then, Besan heads to a nearby village where she works full time as a secretary at a local school. In order to maintain good health and physique, she also complements her routine work schedule with trips to the gym. Concurrently, a combination of errands may follow, ultimately with her returning home to eat dinner, complete chores and spend the remaining of the evening with family.
According to traditional Palestinian customs, females are typically expected to be engaged or married when they reach the 18-24 age group (especially, if they have completed their higher education which Besan has) Correspondingly, her eldest sister married at the age of 20 and sequentially her younger sister followed at 18, triggering communal pressure from her parents and village to get married. However, Besanís dreams and aspirations for the future challenge these expectations in Palestinian society and American misconceptions of Palestinian women. Before ďtying the knotĒ, sheís determined to relocate to the United Arab Emirates and establish herself financially, contesting the Palestinian tradition of the husbandís family role as the primary breadwinner. Besan dreams of independence, financial and social, something which she is determined to achieve. Additionally, she hopes to travel the world with Turkey, Canada and Brazil on her itinerary.
In reality, Besan is practically a mirror image of young people everywhere, including Americans and even Palestinians themselves. They enjoy the company of friends and family; they go to restaurants and coffee shops and in Besanís case, love to head to the major shopping district near her village, Ramallahís booming city center.
Nejwa Ali is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at email@example.com.