Meet this month's featured Wikimedia & Education community member: Bara'a Zama'reh
Author: Bara'a Zama'reh and Sailesh Patnaik
Summary: Starting November 2019, they are highlighting a Wikimedian who is impacting or who has been impacted by Wikimedia & Education work. For March, in this article, meet Bara'a Zama'reh from Palestine and learn from their experience as a local organizer of the Wikipedia Education Programs in Schools and universities.
This month meet Bara'a Zama'reh!
Bara'a is a graduate with an Architectural engineering degree and currently working as an Architect. She is using the post-work period to volunteer with Wikipedia, in order to spread the idea of volunteering further. Voluntary work as an editor at Arabic Wikipedia has given her the chance to see the world through others’ eyes; it’s provided with a sense of purpose and has added meaning to her life. She may not be paid financially, but she gets so much out of it in other ways. It makes her feel positive, it gives her something to look forward to, and above all, it makes her feel that she was contributing rather than just taking.
It totally shaped her personal life, too. She met many of her friends through volunteering at Wikimedia Levant and said: "I am now the totality of experiences that I received from my user group, who supported me to be on this path". It has completely changed her life – and definitely for the better!”
As for her story with Wikimedia, she had the chance to meet Ala'a Najjar, a member of Wikimedia Levant and he introduced her to Wikimedia and all the projects led by the foundation. It was the turning point in her life. At the moment she is a new treasure of Wikimedia Levant and a member of the Wikimedia Levant board. She was quickly interested in Arabic Wikipedia, and started to learn how to edit and contribute to Wikipedia first, then she discovered the Wiki sister projects and how helpful they could be for people who are seeking information online. She participated in an editorial competition and got the second score in Arabic Wikipedia. She discovered the power of this encyclopedia to support Students in their universities, and their homework, Because her first article was an inspiring article for one of the architects with few resources at her university. She doesn't want to repeat her need and is tired in search of resources.
The difficulties she found after 2017 to achieve an acceptable editorial quality on Wikipedia motivated her to launch an Education Program in 2018 at her city of Hebron-West Bank, where limited awareness and Wikipedia support doesn’t exist before. As a new concept!
The surprise was that the idea for the first time was a very successful experiment, with school students from 13 educational institutions, and the enrichment of Arabic Wikipedia in 17 topics, after that she met Sami Jabari and Tala Sarabtah and this prompted them to plan more and wider. They also held the second edition in 2019 and it was also successful with greater results, then they held the third edition (which is the most successful edition they have done so far, despite Covid 19, The challenge was how to adapt to the changes and turn covid-19 into a golden opportunity as a group. here), after which they have not stopped planning to do more programs, with the beginning of 2021 they have coordinated two programs For education, the first one generally available to anyone who wants to learn to edit, and the other for medical students in her university (for the first time), they gained a number of motivated students to edit in Wikipedia.
She participated in coordinating several workshops on global wiki events, and cultural cooperation with other communities, which allowed the participants to learn more about other cultures. She added: "With every step, you will learn more, and in every program, you will become more proud of yourself. This is what Wikipedia means to me, my second beloved world".