“I love Gaza very much and I wish if I could spend my whole life here,” said Ruqia Hussien Dumir, a 26-year old Turkish student in Gaza, who decided to come to the strip in pursuit her graduate studies.
Since her childhood, Ruqia, who belongs to a Turkish family from Deyar Baker city in southern Turkey, has always dreamed of visiting Palestine and Gaza in particular. To achieve her dream, Ruqia obtained a permit from the Turkish Embassy in Cairo to study in Gaza, and by doing so she became the first Turkish student to study there.
Ruqia was ‘so happy’ after she managed to get into Gaza, happiness that was completed after she was able to register for post-graduate studies in the field of Societal Psychological Studies at the Islamic University of Gaza.
She says with a smile, “My family was hesitant and felt worried after I told them about my plan to come to Gaza, because they think Gaza is only about war. But after I insisted I managed to convince them to let me come to Gaza, and I was thrilled after they agreed.”
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Among things that make Ruqia happy is that her expectations were almost identical to what she found in the small region, which has been under Israeli-Egyptian siege for ten years. People were loving and respectable, qualities that made being away from her home less difficult. “The nature of life in Gaza is better than that of Turkey and other countries,” she said. “People here know and love each other more.”
Ruqia says that she has a good relationship with her classmates and their families. “They always want me to stay and eat with them, and food is very delicious.”
Based on her experiences, she says she is resentful of the stereotypical image of Gaza and Palestinians that has permeated for years. “Gaza is a land of love and peace, and people here love outsiders, and love to stay with them,” she said.
Ruqia, who now refers to herself as a Turkish-Palestinian student wants to continue living in Gaza even after she concludes her studies.
“Life here is similar to that of Istanbul, but it is cheaper and easier.” She says she feels very safe, loved and accepted among the people of the strip, although danger on the Israeli border is constantly lurking.
(PC, PIC, Social Media)