Get to Know Palestine, Get to Know Rakan

Rakan Dababse, 21 years old, is from Talouza a small village near Nablus, Palestine, and is currently studying Journalism and Media at An-Najah National University. Rakan considers himself to be an average college student and enjoys football, swimming and reading. But photography his real passion. Rakan is a Youth Action Local Leadership Alliance (YALLA) participant, a youth-led civic engagement program for youth ages 12-21. We sat down with Rakan to learn more about him and his initiative, Get to Know Palestine.

How did you hear about Tomorrow's Youth Organization and YALLA?

I heard about the project through Zajel which is a service website at An-Najah University.

What's your initiative?

It's called Get to Know Palestine and it's a photography initiative. I noticed a huge lack of information on important cities in Palestine thus, my initiative came to form. I will be visiting all of the sites - from Jenin to Hebron, to take photos. Afterwards, I'll combine them to make a informative book that can be kept in organizations and tourist centers across Palestine.

Did you expect to be one of the three winners and that your initiative would be chosen for funding?

Honestly, I expected to be one of the three winners, because I always believed that my initiative will help my country. My initiative doesn't serve a specific category or a certain number of Palestinian societies - it serves all of Palestine and the visitors and tourists who come here. Additionally, my project will help Palestinians know more about their country so it will encourage more domestic tourism in Palestine.

What are you studying and how will this help you in implementing your project?      

I am studying at the Media College. It helps me a lot because media students always keep in touch with the local community because we make many reports and documentaries about our community. As a result of this, I had a very good relationship with the local institutions. So when I ask them to give me the data of tourist sites in Palestine they gave it to me without any hesitation. Moreover, media students make many mini-documentaries and because of that, I know that I am more prepared to represent Palestine positively.

Why did you choose photography as a means to implement your initiative?

Some of my friends told me that I should apply my initiative to the local radios and TVs so that I can reach more Palestinians. But in my perspective, the most effective way to convince others and make them believe in what you're doing is through pictures. I also consider myself obsessed with photography. I fully trust the power of the camera and what it can do. As the famous saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words."

-Mohammad and Roula

Mohammad and Roula are YALLA Communication Officers.