UPDATE: Tamar Haddad is now fundraising for her book, which is about is about the Palestinian struggle, appreciating diversity, and making a change. You can read more about her work and support her campaign on Indiegogo.
Tamar Haddad is from Jerusalem, Palestine, and moved to the United States in 2018. She is currently a senior at California Lutheran University, majoring in music and minoring in entrepreneurship. When she is not in class, Haddad is a Doer at Hub101 and an event coordinator for the School of Management.
Haddad is currently working on her book “The Future of Palestine.” She was introduced to the book-writing process through a program called “Book Creator Academy,” founded by Professor Eric Koester who developed the program at Georgetown University. The idea for the book came from Haddad’s friend, a girl she used to go to school with in Bethlehem. One day, Haddad heard that she had passed away.
“Her family killed her in the name of honor, and honor killings are actually a practice in this community. It really upset me, especially because she was someone I knew. It was just so shocking, and her story ended up going viral,” Haddad said. “People were outraged because she had not done anything wrong. She went out with her fiancé, and her family killed her.”
For Haddad, writing this book is about raising awareness about women’s rights, but it’s also more than that. The book is not directed at the people who persecute, but rather at the people who are able to make changes in situations like these. Haddad said that because things like this keep happening, it is important to get the attention of people in positions of power who can enact change, so that hopefully the situation will be a different one in the future.
“Any group that is different is discriminated against; it is not just about women. These same actions can happen to people who are gay or people of color,” Haddad said. “People who can actually make a change need to make a change. In the book, I am addressing how individuals who read the book should pay it forward, do something and make a change no matter how small it is. It is not a perfect world, but we can always make change for the better.”
The book currently has 13,000 words written as part of the first draft, which is meant to be ready by the end of June. After that, the book will go through an editing process before being published in December 2020. Before the book can officially be published, Haddad and the other writers will drive a presale process to fund the publishing.
For other young people who want to create something of their own, Haddad recommends just going for it. She said that even though the process can be scary initially, it is very rewarding in the end. Haddad also believes that many people think they are too busy to commit to a project like this, but there is always time if you manage it correctly.
“I think people should give themselves a time limit, and then just create a plan with deadlines for themselves. I think this helps people be more disciplined. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me,” Haddad said.
Haddad also believes her job at Hub101 has helped her along the process. Not only has it given her skills that better prepared her for the process, but she also believes that her exposure to entrepreneurship might be the reason why Koester reached out to her in the first place.
“Maybe, if I wasn’t part of the Hub101 community or the Entrepreneurship Club, I would not have gone with the idea right away. I think I would have questioned it more. But this time, I just thought ‘let’s do it’. And I did, and I’m really enjoying it,” Haddad said.
In addition to her commitments at school and work, Haddad is also part of Model United Nations and International Women Leaders, which have allowed her to travel throughout the United States. She is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), which is where she is working on her own program that she wants to turn into a non-profit for Palestinian leadership.
Just like many others in business, Haddad said the current situation with COVID-19 is affecting her ability to promote her book and her NGO project. Without the opportunity to meet people in person, she said it makes it harder to establish connections.
“Because of the coronavirus, I’m very limited. I can’t have a conference if people can’t even go outside. So right now, I’m focusing more on the book,” Haddad said.
Though even amidst the challenges posed by COVID-19, there have been many positives. Haddad has been pleasantly surprised by how many people have reached out to her to say how excited they are about her book or who want to know more about it. She said this makes her very happy, and it makes it easier for her to continue writing.
“I did not expect all the support and interest, so experiencing this was very motivating for me to keep on writing,” Haddad said.
Haddad is already thinking about her second book, where she wants to connect the ideas of discrimination to leadership and focus on how to become a good leader, especially in the Arab world.
“I want to connect the book to my NGO, as they are the same topic. In the NGO, I would give classes on, for example, how to not discriminate against people of different religion, race and class,” Haddad said.