Belgian journalism students visit the MDC


17 Belgian students and two lecturers from the Belgian school of communication, IHECS (Institut des Hautes Etudes des Communications Sociales) visited the Media Development Center to hear about journalism in Palestine.

The visitors were touring Palestine and meeting with local human rights organizations throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem to get a broad picture of the situation for Palestinians. At the MDC the Belgian students met with Palestinian journalism students from the BA-degree at the Media Department. This gave both the Belgian and Palestinian students a chance to ask each other about the media coverage of Palestine.

The Belgian image of Palestine
The Palestinian students asked their Belgian peers about how Palestine is portrayed in Belgian media.

We dont learn about it in school and in the media we dont see what we see here. In TV we just see stones being thrown, but here we understand that its a response to tear gas, said Clarisse Van Der Straten.

The pictures from Gaza often overshadow the pictures of the Westbank. The daily situation in the media is one of violence. They dont show the complexity in daily lives and how you suffer every day, added Tarik Janoulle.

In response the Belgian visitors wanted to hear what motivated their Palestinian peers to become journalists.

I chose media to change the message. The media is weak here, but I want to change it. Im Palestinian and I want to send a message that is deep, said Riham and explained that Palestine has many stories to show both relating to culture and social life which is often overlooked by stories of clashes. But I also like the technical side of it which we learn here at Birzeit University, so maybe Ill contribute to change the world, she said.

Ill talk about the absurdity
The Belgian students arrived to Palestine on December 6 and at the time of their visit to the MDC, they were half-way through an intense 12-day program during which they also had to carry out interviews and gather research for media productions on different topics related to Palestine. At the MDC the Belgian students therefore eagerly conducted interviews among students and staff.

Many admitted that their stories had already changed directions from their original angle as they learned about the situation on the ground in different areas of Palestine.

When Ill write articles and discuss this with my friends, I think Ill focus more on the absurdity, the destruction of land, the wall, the level of difficulty for you to live your own lives, said Tarik Janoulle.

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