Maen Hammad is a Palestinian-American who graduated with an MA in International Affairs in 2017. Maen concentrated his studies in International Law and Organizations and also Conflict Resolution. While at the Elliott School, Maen interned at Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, and the PeaceTech Lab. Maen currently works in the field of human rights inn the Middle East. When Maen isn’t working, he holds a volunteer role as the Local Coordinator for SkatePal– an organization that fosters skateboarding in Palestine. Maen also is an independent documentary filmmaker, usually focusing his work on refugees and impact stories.
Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?
I currently work with Amnesty International in their recently opened regional office in Jerusalem.
I serve as the Research, Campaign, and Communication Assistant. My primary duties consist of helping the research team on both ongoing and reactive research into a variety of human rights violations and documentation by both Israeli authorities and Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and also the Gaza Strip. I also coordinate with our Campaigner in order to strategize and optimize our advocacy globally. Much of my work also revolves around intense coordination with our London/Beirut offices.
On the side, I also volunteer as the Local Coordinator for SkatePal- a charity organization that fosters skateboarding in Palestine. I spent much of my life skateboarding, so this post is a great way for me to support young Palestinians with a great self-development outlet.
On the other side, I am an independent documentary filmmaker. So when I’m not working or skating, you might see me lugging around a camera doing interviews on an impact story. Check out my last documentary for a look into Syrian refugees living in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
What are the current trends driving the future of your career field and what advice would you provide an Elliott School graduate student that is interested in your field of work?
The future of my career depends on being proficient in a wide variety of skill sets; being able to do more, better, and faster is no longer an asset on a CV, but instead, a requirement.
For example, in my role, I need to not only know the basic framework of international humanitarian law, but I also need to have a highly nuanced writing skill-set in order to contextualize a complicated human rights violation, I then must be capable of quickly using my communication and social media skills to effectively create a campaign message; all of this, within about 2 hours.
The current trend is that of being able to do more, with full international coordination- a trend that means a student in the realm of international affairs needs a full arsenal of complementary skill-sets to bring into the workplace.
Lucky for you, the Elliott School is in tune with this trend and gives students the tools to bolster their skill-sets while studying. The skills courses and the capstone project definitely encouraged me to do more than just the status quo.
Further, in combination with internships throughout my two years, I was prepared to enter the job market with more than just a masters degree from the Elliott School.
When you need inspiration, you … ?
When in need of inspiration I usually watch VICE News documentaries. I haven’t decided just yet, but I think my dream job would be to become a war journalist. Why? Filmmaking and storytelling in the context of armed conflict is something that always inspires my work and reminds me why I do what I do. And not just this, but the human dimension of armed conflict is something that usually gets swept under the table when reading a policy paper or research article.
My second source of inspiration building would probably be a play-through of a Kanye West album- which one exactly depends on the mood, but I would say My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy most usually does the job.
If you won the lottery but could only spend money on three items/causes, what would they be?
- Skateboarding for development programs. It might not make much sense for the non-skater, but skateboarding is one of the most effective self-development tools out there. Skateboarding serves as a mechanism to boost self-esteem, fosters interaction with one’s peers, and it empowers young people- most especially in places that need all three of these.
- Full tuition grants to refugees in order to study international affairs. I am consistently inspired by young and creative refugees. There also is an ever growing need for refugees to enter the sphere of international affairs, as they are directly related to the consequences of conflict. Not just this, but refugees often have more insight into the arena of international affairs than any think tank researcher in DC or NY.
- Realistically the rest would go to my student loans. I was thankful to have a fellowship to study at GW. But living in DC wasn’t cheap.
The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.