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Department of Religious Studies

Su'ad Kattan

Su'ad Kattan ('02) is an English and religion teacher at Talita Kumi School in Beit Jala, in the Bethlehem District. She graduated from Bethlehem University with a B.A. in Religious Studies in 2002 and has been teaching at Talita Kumi since 2006 and twice a year she also teaches courses for women and mothers in cooperation with the Catholic Holy Family Center in Bethlehem.

Su'ad is a remarkably busy woman. Somewhere between teaching, caring for her husband and family of five, gardening, housekeeping, and chaperoning for various extracurricular activities, she actually eats, sleeps and even sits for an interview to talk about her time as a student at Bethlehem University. Su'ad speaks in a hurried manner and gives one the vague feeling that she is expected somewhere else, a characteristic distinctive of very active people.

Upon entering her class, one is struck by the energy and excitement which both she and her students exhibit. She is a whirlwind, moving from one desk to another, holding and vigorously pointing at various objects and academic materials and urging her young students to participate, congratulating them when they do well and dramatically shaking her head when they are wrong, accompanied with a loud voice of course and maybe a strong tap on the shoulder.

Su'ad enrolled in the bachelor's program at Bethlehem University because she felt her students needed a professional and well-educated teacher to inform and instruct them about their religion. She sadly witnessed the isolation of many young men and women from their faith, and realized that a lack of knowledge was what pushed them away. "Educating people about their faith at a young age at least gives them a foundation from which they can make informed decisions as to what they believe in and why," Su'ad said. "This is exactly what encouraged me to join the Religious Studies Department at Bethlehem University. The program's main goal and accomplishment has been the creation of a solid base of lay people to complement the work of the clergy, mainly through education. The practical catechetical curriculum along with the expertise of the faculty are key factors of the success of the Religious Studies department and its graduates."

One aspect of the Religious Studies Department that many of the students always point out is its faith component, something which Su'ad makes sure to include in her own teaching. "It's one thing to learn the facts about a religion, but to put those facts into practice using faith is something quite different." She went on to say that it is this faith-based support and her prayer life that has helped her through her teaching career so far.

 Although Su'ad's family has been supportive of her work and academic endeavors, without funding from outside sources, Su'ad would not have been able to continue her education. "I'm like many Palestinian women," Su'ad said. "We have husbands and families who support us, but they ask where we will get the money. Thank God I was blessed with funding and supported with a scholarship from the Latin Patriarchate School that enabled me to attend Bethlehem University." When asked whether she would continue to get her Masters, Su'ad said, of course, "I always want to study, but again it is a question of having the opportunity, which also involves the issue of money."

 

 


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