When Shadi Sader was 14, he had to pass through what he called the “humiliation gate” on his way to school each day. Qalandia, the largest checkpoint connecting the northern West Bank with Jerusalem was constructed in 2001, during the second Intifada. It is used to control Palestinian access to occupied East Jerusalem and modern day Israel, including those crossing for school, work or medical treatment.
Shadi says that he dreaded the stressful environment at the checkpoint, where students waste hours each day, lining up early to make sure they get to class on time. Many students, like Shadi, eventually give up and switch to schools closer to home.
Shadi, now 25, is a journalist and public relations officer at the American-Mideast Educational & Training Services, Inc. (AMIDEAST). He said that although he hated passing through Qalandia each day, there was one bright spot. Most mornings, while waiting in line, he would see the local Al-Jazeera correspondent Waleed al-Omari reporting from the checkpoint. Al-Omari would report on restrictions on Palestininians and their lack of access to the holy city. After school, as Shadi watched al-Omari on TV with his parents, he knew that he too wanted to be a journalist one day.