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“Thanks to the Hungary Helps program, I travelled all over Europe” – Hungary Helps scholarship holder Jane Alawi to S4C.News


In the third episode of our series of interviews with the Hungary Helps Scholarship holders, we talked with a Palestinian Christian girl, Jane Alawi. In the framework of the scholarship program, she studied Molecular Biology at the University of Debrecen, Hungary. Now, she is working in a research facility in Szeged.

– How did you find the Hungary Helps Scholarship Program and why did you submit your application?

– I heard of the Hungary Helps Scholarship Program at the local church in my community. At that time, I had just finished my bachelor’s studies in medical laboratory sciences and was looking to continue my education and possibly pursue a master’s degree. So when my parish priest informed me about the opportunity that Hungary offers, I applied for it and other options in other countries. The Hungary Helps Scholarship attracted me most because it offered a master’s degree in molecular biology. Not many institutions include that offer. Molecular biology has been a field I wanted to go into before I even started my bachelor’s degree, so [I thought] it would be a great opportunity if I were accepted.

– You studied molecular biology, which is quite a demanding career. Did you have difficulty finding an institution to acquire enough expertise for university?

– My previous biological studies at my university in Bethlehem (Bethlehem University) were actually and surprisingly sufficient enough for me to succeed in the Molecular Biology field. Of course, it was not an easy task, but I did have enough knowledge from my university that helped me a lot, even more than my colleagues who were studying with me.

– I heard that you taught English at a school in Bethlehem. It is a different field from what you had studied. Why did you do this work?

– I taught English Language Arts, American literature, world literature, and biology. Before I went to university, I graduated from an American School in Bethlehem. This school has truly strengthened my English proficiency to a native level of proficiency. When I finished my master’s degree and came home, I had no job offer; I applied to many places, but none of them accepted me because of cultural stigmas, and the Israeli jobs required a higher proficiency in Hebrew, which I did not have. My school (the American School) was short on staff, especially American staff, because of COVID, so they called me to work as a teacher there. Initially, they wanted me to teach biology and chemistry. Still, they had no English teachers (with an American native accent), so they switched me from chemistry to English and literature (I still taught biology). Teaching English was fun, but teaching literature was very challenging because it is a field that I liked to read in but not teach. I learned many important things from this experience, which changed my perception of many things.

– Where do you live now? What do you work now?

– Right now, I am in Szeged, Hungary. I am currently working in a research facility (BRC) under the supervision of Dr Istvan Krizbai. I initially applied for the PhD in Szeged and got accepted by my doctoral school, but the Hungary Helps Scholarship rejected me. However, my supervisor was kind enough to offer me a job in his research lab. So I took his offer, and right now, I am working in BRC lab in Szeged, Hungary.

– What did the scholarship program give to you?

– The Scholarship gave many things to me. First, I was able to gain invaluable experience working on my master’s thesis in the biochemistry lab at the University of Debrecen. I was able to get the chance to meet new people from all around the world and make excellent international friends. I was able to travel all over Europe and form beautiful memories with friends. I also had the opportunity to gain enough merit during the scholarship period to get a job in a lab in Hungary.

In the following weeks, we will share interviews with Hungary Helps Scholarship-holders. In the next episode, we will talk with Iraqi Maikey Zaki Bia Khorani, who studied IT Engineering at Pázmány Péter University in Budapest. You can read our previous episodes here.

Ildikó Ungvári

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