Organizers: Biographies of Project Team

Voices Beyond Walls (VBW) is organized by a collective of independent Palestinian and international media technologists, filmmakers, photographers, educators, and activists. The main project coordinators are as follows, with the support of many participating organizations and individuals.

Julie M. Norman, Ph.D. is a Professor of Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She received her doctoral degree in International Relations from American University, with concentrations in Peace and Conflict Resolution and Human Rights, and a regional focus on the Middle East.  Julie is the founder of the Contrast Project, a youth photography project in the West Bank, and a co-coordinator and media trainer with Voices Beyond Walls.  Both projects aim to enable youth to use arts and media as tools for expression and advocacy.  Julie is a 2009 Fellow at Dartmouth College's Dickey Center for International Understanding, and she has also held fellowships with the Jerusalem 2050 Initiative at MIT and the Palestinian American Research Council (PARC).  She is also a co-producer of "This Palestinian Life," a 2009 documentary film on nonviolent resistance in Palestinian villages, and she is writing a book on popular resistance in Palestine during the second Intifada.

Anne Paq is a French freelance photographer based in the West Bank since 2003 and an aducational coordinator with Les Enfants, Le Jeu et l’Education (EJE), a non-govermental organization based in Bethlehem, West Bank (Palestine). She is a member of ActiveStills, a collective of photographers engaged in documenting subjects of social and political interest. Anne has focused her photographic work on capturing day-to-day life under occupation, Palestinian children, refugees and displaced persons, the Wall and its impact on Palestinians, as well as non-violent resistance to occupation. In 2006 she developed a project called Images for Life with the Al Rowwad Center in the Aida refugee camp, aimed at empowering Palestinians through photography and video. During the project, Anne trained a group of 8 young photographers (aged 13 to 17) who produced a photo exhibition presented in Palestine and abroad. Anne also participated in trainings with Askar and Shu’fat refugee camps. In 2007, she co-directed her first video short, “Bethlehem checkpoint, 4AM” which was selected for the 2008 Boston Palestine Film Festival. In July 2008 she joined the Voices Beyond Walls team and assisted with the workshop in Shu’fat camp, while supervising the production of a video short called “Intensive Care Unit”, based on a poem by Mahmoud Darwish. www.annepaq.com

Nitin Sawhney, Ph.D. is a Lecturer and Research Fellow with the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Dept. of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Nitin was born in New Delhi, India and lived in the Middle East for over 12 years. Nitin received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from MIT, as well as M.S. and B.E. degrees from Georgia Tech. He has conducted research on interactive video technology, open design collaboration, mobile and wearable computing, speech interfaces and auditory perception at the MIT Media Lab, Mitsubishi Electric Research, Georgia Tech’s GVU Center, and Fuji-Xerox Palo-Alto Labs. Nitin’s current focus is on human rights advocacy through participatory new media technologies. In 2006, he founded Voices Beyond Walls, a nonprofit initiative to conduct digital video and storytelling workshops with youth in refugee camps in the West Bank. He co-founded and organized the annual Boston Palestine Film Festival since 2007. He also established the international Expressions of Nakba Exhibition in 2008. He is currently developing the Media Barrios project to support urban renewal and social empowerment through the media arts, as part of the Jerusalem 2050 initiative at MIT. visualarts.mit.edu/people/faculty/faculty_sawhney.html

Katherine Toukhy is an artist and educator who has taught art to a wide range of groups, from artists with special needs to youth living abroad. She has received degrees in Psychology and Fine Arts from Boston College and Massachusetts College of Art, respectively. Katherine’s work as an independent artist in drawing, painting and video draws upon her personal Egyptian American background. She has shown in alternative spaces, community centers, galleries, and conferences, including “Diwan 2007: A Forum for the Arts” at the AANM. With a group of emerging Boston artists, Katherine co-ran and collaborated with the Esprit de Corps Artists’ Collective, an artist-run venue for visual art, film, and music. She is interested in arts programming and venues that can bridge geographic, cultural, and class divides. One example is the Esprit de Corps’ mobile film screening, where film was projected onto a UHaul truck moving through the city. Katherine has also worked with Voices Beyond Walls, a youth media program for Palestinian teenagers. She continues to work with VBW and The Palestine Education Project to develop educational tools using cultural production.

Raed Yacoub is an M.S. Student in the Program in Society, Science and Technology at Lund University in Sweden. Raed is a Palestinian born and raised in north-east Jerusalem. Raed’s main interest is in technology, learning, and community development. Using his background in Computer Science and through his research at MIT, he has been working on projects that enable youth to develop necessary work and life skills by experimenting with creative expression using media and technology. Raed previously worked with the Intel Computer Clubhouse in Ramallah, the first project of its kind in the Arab Middle East. He was awarded the Fulbright-Humphrey Fellowship 2006/2007 at the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) at MIT and the MIT Media Lab Ideas Institute Fellowship in 2005. Since 2007, Raed coordinated the Voices Beyond Walls project in the West Bank. In 2008, Raed served as the Training Coordinator at the National Institute for Administration- Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR). Raed was also a Jerusalem Visionary Fellow at MIT in the fall of 2008, working on the Media Barrios project.

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