ورشة افتراضية: كيف تكتب قصة نكبة عائلتك؟
24 février 2023

To commemorate 75 years of the Nakba, the Institute for Palestine Studies-USA is organizing a writing workshop that centers Nakba stories told by descendants of its survivors. This workshop is co-sponsored by the United Palestinian Appeal and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.

Since our founding in 1963, we have contributed a uniquely Palestinian voice to the public discourse facing Palestine and the Palestinians throughout the world. This workshop offers space and community for young writers to document stories of becoming. What happened to their family in 1948? Where did they go? What was different when they stayed, returned? Who was lost? What was left behind? What are the memories passed down? And what was built in exile, in refugee camps, in the generations that came after the expulsion?

These stories are deeply rooted in the collective Palestinian consciousness.

Mainstream legacy publications use language that fails to recognize the power imbalance between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian people. They tend to disregard Palestinian voices, stories, and sources, while seeking unreliable narrators.

Independent online publications – such as the Institute’s blog, Palestine Square – uplift the Palestinian narrative and explore all aspects of Palestinian life.

This is the first of what we hope to be many opportunities for young Palestinian writers to engage with the Institute and seek it not only as a reliable archive of information, but also as a space for creation. Read the requirements below and apply!

Guest instructors and sessions:

Laura Albast – a Palestinian journalist and the editor of Palestine Square – will lead the workshop. Guest instructors and speakers include journalism professionals and academics: Rami Khouri, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Dr. Jennifer Mogannam, Omar Gallaga, and Farah Silvana-Kanaan. Each story will be accompanied by an illustration created by Palestinian artist Aya Ghanameh. See their bios below!

The workshop consists of five virtual sessions:

  • Outlining your story & tips on narrative writing — 12pm ET, March 20
  • The Art of the Interview & tips on the reporting process — TBD
  • Oral History Training — [time TBD], April 1
  • Tips for Trauma-Informed Reporting — 11am ET, April 8
  • Feature writing 101 — 11am ET, April 15


  • This workshop is open to Palestinian writers and writers of Palestinian heritage between the ages of 18 and 35, regardless of citizenship. They can be living anywhere around the world.
  • Applicants must have an idea about what they wish to write about, as well as a family member willing to be interviewed (interviewee names can be anonymized). You are expected to include a short pitch in your application form.
  • Applicants must be comfortable writing in English—sessions will be conducted in English, and pieces must be written in English. Stories will, however be translated and published in both English and Arabic.
  • The workshop will run between March 20 and April 15. All stories must be filed by April 30. Applicants must be able to attend all sessions and meet all deadlines.
  • Applicants must have at least one piece of writing published. Samples from journalism publications and literary journals (except poetry) are accepted, academic papers are not accepted as samples, but academics are welcome!
  • You do not have to be a journalist or come from a journalism or communications background to participate; all writers and storytellers are welcome!

To apply, fill this form by 5pm ET on March 12, 2023. 

Only five writers will be selected. Invitations to selected writers will be sent out by the third week of March. Participants will receive a stipend of $300 for the publication of their Nakba story in Palestine Square. 

If you have any questions, please e-mail [email protected] 

About the instructors:

Rami G. Khouri is a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist and editor. He is co-Director of Global Engagement, Senior Public Policy fellow, Adjunct Professor of Journalism, and Director of Anthony Shadid Archives research project at the American University of Beirut. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. His columns have been published in The New Arab and Agence Global. 

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is an Emmy-nominated journalist, producer, and actor. He recently finished a 2-year long documentary investigation with the BBC called Queer Egypt Under Attack. Prior to that he worked as a Senior Correspondent for AJ+ where he produced award-winning documentaries focused on social justice and human rights. Previously Ahmed worked as a reporter and producer for Al Jazeera English, as well as for the The New York Times, The Huffington Post and PBS. Ahmed is widely known for creating and co-hosting Al Jazeera English’s flagship program, ‘The Stream, ’ an interactive live talk show nominated for an Emmy Award for Most Innovative Program in 2012.

Dr. Jennifer Mogannam is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow and will join the department of Critical Race and Ethnic studies at UC Santa Cruz in July 2023. She earned her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and her M.A. in Middle Eastern studies from the American University of Beirut. She is a critical, cross-disciplinary scholar of Palestinian and Arab transnational movements, third world solidarities, gendered power in anti-colonial struggle, violence, refuge, and revolution. Jennifer has organized in transnational Palestinian and Arab community spaces for nearly 20 years, formerly organizing internationally with the Palestinian Youth Movement and currently as a founding organizer of the Palestinian Feminist Collective. Her work, while often historical, is also always forward looking toward the possibilities of decolonization and building a new world.

Omar L. Gallaga is a longtime tech culture reporter, having spent most of his career reporting on and writing about the intersections of technology, culture, identity, and entertainment. He's written for WIRED, NPR, Texas Monthly, CNN, MSNBC, Hispanic Magazine, Consumer Reports, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Engadget and The Austin American-Statesman, where he was a reporter and editor for many years. For the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, he has coached and trained journalists across the country on writing, DEI and other topics and he's the lead advisor for the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship. Omar lives in New Braunfels, Texas, and can be heard weekly on the Texas Standard radio program talking about the business of consumer technology.

Laura Albast is a Palestinian journalist, editor, and media analyst. Her publications and appearances include The Washington Post, The New Arab, Arab American News, Doha News, Al Jazeera, TRT World, KPFA and other outlets. She is also a skilled Arabic/English translator who contributed to dozens of projects in video, audio, and print, including Bloomberg Businessweek, The Nation, Fiasco podcast, and The Common (forthcoming). Laura guest edited and translated a special issue published in Skin Deep creative magazine titled Palestine: Ways of Being. She holds degrees from the American University of Beirut and Boston University. She is currently the Senior Editor of Digital Strategy and Communications at the Institute for Palestine Studies-USA in Washington, DC.

Farah-Silvana Kanaan is a features writer and reporter for L’Orient Today, Lebanon’s biggest English-language news service. She’s also the Lebanon correspondent for Bureau Buitenland, a Dutch national radio program which focuses on in-depth analysis of foreign news and writes a column about Lebanon for the Dutch newspaper De Leeuwarder Courant. She has also written for The New Arab, Middle East Eye, Al-Jazeera English, Rusted Radishes, Canvas, Kinfolk Magazine and Discontent, and was the guest editor of the “Mare/بحر” issue of Arabpop, an Italian magazine that focuses on literature, art, music and culture in the Arab World. After studying Film at the Università di Bologna, she majored in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam. As a journalist and writer, Farah seeks to illuminate the myriad of tiny stories that make up the fabric of society.

Aya Ghanameh is a Palestinian illustrator, writer, and designer from Amman, Jordan. She received her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and is currently a Designer at Penguin Young Readers. She was previously a Children's Books & Gifts Design Fellow at Chronicle Books. Her work moves away from state-centric ways of thinking to center the voices of ordinary people in historical and political narratives. Her debut children's picture book, These Olive Trees (Viking Books, 2023), is inspired by the experiences of her family, who cultivated her love of the earth throughout her upbringing in exile. It is available for pre-order now for release on August 22, 2023. 

About the sponsors:

United Palestinian Appeal (UPA) empowers Palestinians to improve their lives and communities through socially responsible and sustainable programs in health, education, and community and economic development. For more information about UPA's work in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and the diaspora, visit: UPAconnect.org

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) is the only academic center in the United States focusing exclusively on the Arab world. Since its founding in 1975, CCAS has prepared new generations of diplomats, scholars, teachers, policymakers, and leaders in the business and nonprofit sectors capable of critical thought, constructive dialogue, and creative engagement with the Arab world. CCAS advances research in the field of Arab Studies not only through its academic programs, public events, education outreach, and multimedia projects but also by regularly hosting prominent scholars, visiting researchers, and post-doctoral fellows at the Center.