Giving, Uniting, Nurturing – Rula Quawas <3

Last year Quawas was nominated for the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award for a video her students posted on YouTube as part of a class project. “I didn’t win, but the biggest award to receive is when you help others co-create their lives; when you see them grow wings.”

Quawas was referring to her four female students who “came to her with a spark in their eyes” and asked permission to create a video about the sexual harassment they hear on a day to day basis. “Someone who has found her voice and is using it is the best reward as an educator.” Quawas expressed the importance of persistence.

Due to the role she had in and support of that student video, Quawas was removed from her position as dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Jordan. After public threats from colleagues were made toward her as a result of the project, Quawas had personal security escorts on campus for three weeks. One comment read, ‘had she been a Muslim, she wouldn’t have done that. She doesn’t have morals, and if you see her, throw acid water on her.’

Quawas said that being the dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages, especially as a woman, was a big position. “I was relieved to be a professor again,” she said. The dean is responsible for 5,000 students and of one of the largest faculties in the school. Professors from all over the world report to the dean, sharing a multitude of ideas to modify specific courses they instruct. In her former role as dean, Quawas knew what to do and what not to do. “I pushed the envelope because the kids are so different in this generation, but now I’m on the blacklist, so even if there’s a new president of the University, I could never be dean again. It’s good. I don’t want it.”

She seemed to be conflicted; her memories as dean stemming feelings of happiness and sadness. “I lied,” she admitted. “I’m still in pain.” Quawas had an open-door policy for her students, faculty and staff. “I wanted to be a part of their lives. I still want to be dean, but I was told I was too American. It’s been over two years.”

“You know what hurt the most?” She asked. “The President told me: ‘I don’t want to let you go, but I have to.'”

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