Arab American Women Making an Impact: Nada Dalgamouni
By: Ivey Noojin/Arab America Contributing Writer
“Arab American Women Making an Impact” is an ongoing series about women who are making a difference in America.
Nada Dalgamouni is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Jordan who currently lives in Michigan. She has dedicated her life to helping children and encouraging diversity within her community. Every day, she hopes for peace, and her actions have made a considerable impact toward building bridges, instead of breaking them. Dalgamouni focuses on molding the future generation because she believes in their influence.
“They have to help me with my mission for building harmony,” Dalgamouni said.
Life in the Arab World
Nada Dalgamouni was born in Jordan to a large, middle-class family and completed much of her training in education there. In 1966, She went to the Ramallah Institute of Teachers to get her Diploma degree in physical education. Dalgamouni then attended a teacher’s training within the Jordan Department of Education and was a physical education teacher for high school students.
In the United States, as she was learning English, she earned two associate degrees, one in general education, and the second in business administration. That was when she began her career in organizing children’s events. There, she dedicated herself to student outreach, including helping with the student government and several sports teams.
Moving to the U.S.
In 1979, she decided with her husband to move to the United State for higher education. At first, she went to Indiana, but that didn’t last long. Dalgamouni had family in Hawaii and decided to move there. In Hawaii, her sister-in-law was able to get her a job within the tourism industry, a family business.
With a license in travel industry management, Dalgamouni was able to help fellow Arabs coming to Hawaii. She could direct them to hotels and ultimately make their stay in the United States as seamless as possible. When she was not working as a travel agent, Dalgamouni made a mark in the education system in Hawaii as a substitute teacher. She always felt drawn to children, which made the Intifada (The Palestinian Uprising) even harder for her.
In 1987, when Palestinians revolted against Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza, all Nada Dalgamouni saw was the children’s heartbreak. She watched kids fighting one another on television and knew that they had to give up their education to do so.
“I started getting pregnant with the idea of what to do,” Dalgamouni said in an interview with Community Connections.
That was when she decided to make kids’ education a priority. She wanted to make an international classroom that the rest of the world could see. Dalgamouni then decided to move to Michigan in 1991, where her brother was in his residency. There, she could be surrounded by her community and also her family.
She wanted to start a peaceful revolution.
From Hawaii to Michigan
“I went right to what I know most,” Dalgamouni said about her move to Michigan, teaching.
She became an educational consultant at Detroit Public Schools in 1994. There, she helped refugees and immigrants adjust to the new environment, a feeling with which she could identify with. Dalgamouni also was a public relations and executive producer at TV Orient, a televised program for southern Michigan. For two years, her job was to bring more ethnic organizations to the show.
With these two jobs, Nada Dalgamouni knew that her personal project was a must. She wanted everyone to think and act globally, and she understood that any progress began with children. So in 1991, she founded Children Helping Children.
Children Helping Children
Children Helping Children is an organization that showcases children’s performances related to their culture. Kids go on stage in their traditional dress and do whatever connects them to their heritage.
“They are so fascinated with each other,” Dalgamouni said about the children watching each other’s performances in an interview with WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7.
A showcase is not the only aspect of Children Helping Children, though. Dalgamouni also incorporates a global perspective in an after-school program. She gives the kids fake plane tickets, as if they were traveling, and asks them to walk around to a different country in each corner of the classroom.
“I felt like an educator would have to start thinking outside of the box and educate the children through multi-media,” Dalgamouni said in an interview with Community Connections.
Nada Dalgamouni hopes to build bridges between members of “Children Helping Children”. She wants to broadcast the diversity of the United States, and the best way to do that is through kids. They have such innocence that everyone is enthralled by them. During the performances, no one is worried about prejudices or hate; they are just there to watch and support each other.
“I give all the children an opportunity to touch the civilization of other people,” Dalgamouni said in an interview with WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7.
Nada Dalgamouni’s Other Projects
Starting in 1991, Nada Dalgamouni became the global education director at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Inc. At this job, she was in charge of an ethnic enrichment experience program in order to increase cultural awareness within the area. She also became the chairperson of The World in America in 2012 and coordinated events and festivals for global and cultural education programs. Currently, she is working on Michigan’s first international market place and cultural center called The International District.
However, the most impressive feat of all of her many accomplishments is the fact that she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Twice.
“I think this is the biggest honor that a human being can receive,” Dalgamouni said.
Even after these nominations in both 2016 and 2018, Dalgamouni continues to fight for peace within the Detroit area and afar. She wants the younger generation to understand the importance of fighting for one’s right to be recognized and celebrated. She relies on the support of her community and urges everyone to contact her at email@example.com.