From Palestine to Murdoch and back again, Huthayfa is working towards an end to long-running hostilities in the Middle East.
For more than 70 years, Palestine and Israel have been in conflict – but equipped with the experience of living in Perth and a Master's degree from Murdoch University, Huthayfa Abuseifein hopes to one day be part of the solution.
Awarded a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia Awards Scholarship early in 2015, Palestinian native Huthayfa was pondering where he might study when serendipity and a bit of search engine assistance kicked in and led him to Murdoch.
“One of my friends introduced me to a former Murdoch student from Palestine who told me about it,” Huthayfa recalls.
“Then, my curiosity forced me to Google Murdoch… I was fascinated, so I nominated Murdoch to be my preferred university.”
Letting curiosity and new ways of thinking lead the way
Huthayfa graduated in 2017 with a Master of International Affairs and Security and exposure to a standard of education and academic support he could not have experienced at home in Palestine.
He also picked up a much broader educational experience – time spent in a calmer, more stable day-to-day environment – which he still carries with him daily.
“I was very lucky to be a student at Murdoch because when I went back to my country I really found that I had significant changes in my behaviors, critical thinking, problem solving and peace building,” he says.
“I have the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to solve problems effectively. This does not mean that I give a quick answer to any problem – but it means I am able to think, assess problems and find well thought-out solutions within a reasonable period.
“I’m always proud to tell Palestinians how peaceful life is in Australia and how peace can provide positive changes to the community.
“I often try to show photos of life in Australia and of Murdoch so they can see how life becomes prosperous with peace and community development.”
Since returning to Palestine, Huthayfa has been working with Palestine Judicial Authority, where he also actively tries to pass on lessons learned in Australia.
Through my work and daily life I always discuss with friends and colleagues about how crucial it is to live in peace and freedom, the importance of collective work for development, good governance and the protection of human rights.
“I built up several relations with people and organisations from Palestine and outside, trying to convey my high message to encourage them and others to do something for the progression of peace building between Palestine and Israel.
“I’m very optimistic that there will be a significant solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict if we have collective deeds.”
Optimism for the future
Huthayfa is also optimistic his Australian experience will continue with future study at his “beloved” Murdoch.
Accompanied by his wife Fidaa and sons Karam and Zein, he feels he established strong connections in Perth and at the university.
"Whenever I met an obstacle, I could easily find someone who could help me – whether it was from Student Support, from staff, especially Professor Benjamin Reilly and my supervisor Dr. Rajat Ganguly, or the Centre for University Teaching and Learning team, who were always willing to help students to cope with their study.
I felt that I was always between my friends and fellows.
“The Murdoch campus also has places like the Bush Court, where you can relax and make new friends, as well as very kind people who always welcome international students to their city.”
“While I was studying at Murdoch, I really felt that I was not alone."