Rangineh Azimzadeh

Rangineh Azimzadeh (Democracy Workers Rights Center - DWRC): Rangineh graduated cum laude from Portland State University with an undergraduate degree in Communications Studies. She then went abroad to Nicosia, Cyprus where she studied International Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Rangineh also lived and studied abroad in Iran and Italy, and served as a fellow for the Institute for International Public Policy from 2003-2007. She undertook intensive Arab language training at Middlebury College before entering the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) as a graduate student. While at MIIS Rangineh participated in a 3-week intensive winter practicum in Cambodia on peace building in a post-conflict society. After her fellowship, Rangineh wrote: “The field experience helped to recommit me to working in the region and on this conflict specifically. It increased my global awareness immensely and provided a critical opportunity for introspection.”

Remembering Ramallah

01 Sep

Less than a week after leaving Ramallah I am already missing Palestine. The experience was not quite as I imagined it would be, but in many ways, it was better. There are no words to quite capture exactly how much I learned, experienced and came to cherish during my time in the West Bank this summer. What I did learn, however, is that life is often more complicated that we could ever imagine and more simple that we could ever give it credit it for. This is one of many contradictions I came across these past few months in Ramallah, a land that seemed to be filled with contradictions.

More than just contradictions though, this summer was not only about learning the challenges and struggles that others faced, it also called for a heavy dose of introspection into my role as both an observer and as an Iranian-American woman living and working in the West Bank. My time in Ramallah challenged me to question my own preconceived notions about the conflict, the people and the culture I chose to become a part of for a few months over the summer. As a die-hard idealist, I was presented with the possibility that a peace where everyone could walk away happy might not be possible, not because the will does not exist, but because peace is and continues to be defined in more ways than one could possibly fathom, because peace looks different to each person sitting at the negotiating table and because sometimes we cannot erase damage that has already been done. Nevertheless, as my conflict resolution professor always says, where there is conflict, there is opportunity.

My conclusion after spending the summer in the West Bank is not that peace is not achievable, quite the contrary in fact. And while the peace that many of us “idealists” hoped would be possible may not necessarily be an option any longer, I continue to believe that peace is still attainable – that the Palestinian people along with their international and even Israeli allies will continue to advocate until they can guarantee that their children won’t be born and restricted to living in refugee camps, that they will someday be able to visit family and friends in Jerusalem without a permit, that they will no longer fear the settlers occupying their neighborhoods and that one day the world will recognize the strength and resilience of the Palestinian people not because they view them as victims, but because they view them as pillars of perseverance.

The main objective of this summer was to help tell the story of the individuals I encountered so that the world would be able to have a better sense of what is really happening so far away from the “bubble” that so many of us live in – and if even one person can walk away after reading these blogs and feel as though such enlightenment has occurred on some level, I will know the most important work has been done.

I leave you now with a small glimpse into one of my most favorite aspects of being in Ramallah: the call to prayer, which is recited on a loud speaker five times a day in line with Islamic tradition. The video is shot from outside of my apartment in Ramallah.


Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh

Posted Sep 1st, 2009


  • Barbara

    September 1, 2009


    Dear Rangineh – a very poignant ending article to your summer. (Although this is not an ending but really just a beginning to your journey to determining your role in working towards more peace and justice in the world.)

    I loved your thinking on our various expectations and definitions of what peace is to each of us. This is a very sobering thought. I think this writing was your best of the summer.

    I also loved listening to the call to prayer and seeing the view from your apartment in Ramallah at sunset.

    It was an honor to be thinking of you and privy to your thoughts this summer.

    Hugs, Barb

  • Lynda Bell

    September 1, 2009


    Dear Rangineh,

    You certainly achieved your goal of reaching and changing awareness in people here. I have learned much from your posts.

    The other day on a PBS show (channel 10 in Portland) I saw a wonderful show on the series called POV (Point of View). There was very little spoken; most of the story came simply through the images. It was all about divided Jerusalem and how permits are needed to cross at certain points, thus separating families. If I can find a link to it, I will send it to you. It was so well done, showing the huge cement wall and how people manage to get around.

    You write so well and I have enjoyed all of your posts!

    Please keep in touch! All the best,

  • Stephanie Somanchi

    September 2, 2009


    I’m so proud of you. Thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom.

  • Kati

    September 11, 2009


    Rangineh, you are such an inspiration – the powerful work you have dedicated yourself to, and the articulate, thoughtful way you have enabled us to experience your journey have opened my eyes to thinking differently about a part of the world that is mostly portrayed in American media as conflict-ridden.

    Through your words, I now think of Palestine not in the pre-defined term of facing a conflict, but as facing a great opportunity to demonstrate what peace after struggle looks like. I am enamored with your idealism, your brilliance, and your advocacy, and look forward to learning more from you as you continue your journey.

    Thank you for sharing with the world your wisdom.

    <3 Kati

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