Tatsiana Hulko

Tatsiana Hulko (Women's Affairs Technical Committee - WATC): Tatsiana graduated from Minsk State Linguistic University in Belarus, her home country, in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in translation and linguistics. Tatsiana also worked with the Belarusian youth magazine CD/Students’ Thought and for a number of Belarusian charities that helped children from the contaminated Chernobyl region. At the time of her fellowship, Tatsiana was studying for a master's degree at Georgetown University, with a concentration in conflict management.

so similar yet so different

18 Jun

I have to say I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed at 7am on a Sunday morning. However, I was looking forward to the day. I had planned to attend a training for women organized by the WATC, my host organization in Ramallah.

The WATC has many amazing projects, one of which is aimed at training women in Palestinian legislation with the emphasize on family law and gender issues. I guess it would be an understatement to say that I was taken by surprise when I walked into the conference room full of Palestinian women from Ramallah and the nearby villages all having notebooks, print-outs of the Palestinian constitution, and the eagerness to learn.

The training the WATC has organized included 6-day workshops in Ramallah and several other Palestinian towns. The project proved to be so successful that the organization is planning to do the training of trainers. The idea is to teach the women who attended the initial training sessions to conduct similar workshops in their local communities.

That Sunday was actually the last of the 6 days and the women had a lot to discuss. I was amazed to find how knowledgeable, passionate, and strong the group was. For a moment I thought about my own country.

Here I was, in a Muslim culture around women who are successfully fighting for their rights despite all stereotypes. And on the other hand I realized that seminars like these would still be impossible in today’s Belarus, the supposedly free country on the border with the European Union.

The Palestinian women were in the middle of a discussion about legal grounds for Mahmoud Abbas to form an emergency government when the news came about two women ministers appointed by Salam Fayyad. The conference room immediately filled with joyful singing, dancing, and applauding.

I couldn’t help thinking about the other women I came to know in Palestine, the women from Betunia village, for example. The ones who also wear head scarfs, but who are too afraid to have an opinion.

The ones who dropped out of schools, who stay in the house all day cooking and cleaning, who are not allowed to walk the streets of Ramallah without their husbands’ permission, whose sole entertainment of the day is gossiping with the neighbors. Amazing, how similar yet how different these two kinds of women are…

Posted By Tatsiana Hulko

Posted Jun 18th, 2007


  • Tabatha

    June 18, 2007


    Wow Tatsiana! It is so nice to finally hear from you…we were starting to worry over here at ISH. It is nice to hear that things are going well for you and that you are enjoying your stay so far. Your blog sounds like something from a movie, pretty unreal to me. Meanwhile Becky and I have been watching a lot of movies from Israel/Palestine and we keep thinking about you there, hoping you are safe 🙂 Keep up the great work and thanks for sending the blog link!!!!

  • Diana W

    June 18, 2007


    Thank you for allowing us to experience this part of the world through you. Your blog gives us an insight that the nightly news doesn’t cover. Keep up the great work.


  • Nancy

    June 18, 2007


    Tania, I stumbled across your blog! It was wonderful to read about your life this summer. What an awesome experience! Stay safe! Have fun! Nancy

  • Michael Bodakowski

    June 20, 2007


    Hi Tatsiana! I’m so happy for you that everything worked out so well! I look forward to reading more of your blog this summer and hearing all about your adventures when we are back in DC. Take care, Dowidzenia!

  • Stephanie

    June 21, 2007


    Tatsiana; glad you’re having a good time in Palestine. I linked to your blog from the MSFS summer blog site. thanks for giving us your insights. I’m so glad it worked out.

  • Stephanie

    June 21, 2007


    tatsiana, so glad it worked out for you and you’re having a good time. I linked to your blog from the main MSFS page. Enjoy your summer and stay safe

  • Marie

    June 23, 2007


    Dear Tatsiana,

    What an experience you are having! And your photos are fabulous. We at the Zonta Club of Washington are following your blog, and are fascinated by the work you are doing. You are making a big difference in many of these women’s lives by telling their stories and by adding your unique perspective.

    Take good care,


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