Dunya Abdelqader - Aerospace Architecture in Wadi Rum | BY DESIGN
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Dunya Abdelqader – Aerospace Architecture in Wadi Rum

45 minutes

I am very excited to launch the live BY DESIGN series with the young lady that stole a piece of my heart the day we met; when I was seven years old. Dunya Abdelqader is my youngest sister and she is a senior Architecture student at the Middle East University in Amman, Jordan.

In this episode Dunya and I talk about our Palestinian Jordanian American culture and how it influenced our creative career paths. We talk about our experiences of feeling “weird” and how we coped with it. Finally we share stories about our heritage and how it played a massive role in our upbringing.

Highlights and Takeaways:

• 0:39  I share a short history about my family and why Dunya and I feel like we belong to three different cultures. I talk about my dad’s family and how they were forced to leave Palestine and move to Jordan as a result of the 6 Day War in 1967. I also talk about why my grandpa had to leave his wife and 8 children behind, and move to New York to establish a better life for them.

03:22 I explain what our dad’s vision was for the future of his children (all 6 of us) in America and why he decided to raise us in Jordan.

If you don't know which culture you belong to, then create your own.


03:54 How did we grow up to adapt all three cultures (Palestinian, Jordanian and American)

05:15 Dunya talks about how she adapted what she learned from an online M.I.T Aerospace Engineering course, and how her collaboration with Architect Heba Nazer lead to creating a project that caught the attention of BBC.

Don't wait for the opportunity to present itself, create your own opportunities.


07:29 Dunya talks about the moment she realized that our traditions were different from everyone else.

08:40 I talk about the traditions we have from our village in Palestine.

Embracing your culture fuels your essence.


11:36 Dunya describes the first time she felt weird. Once she entered University she suddenly found herself surrounded by people from multiple cultures from all over the middle east. She struggled to fit in and find her place in this new diverse environment.

12:54 I talk about the multiple International educational systems in Jordan and which ones we attended.

16:00 Dunya talks about the creative fields she was interested in growing up and why she decided to become an architect. She also explains the difference between studying Architecture in Jordan vs. in America. She talks about how in Jordan Architecture is considered part of S.T.E.M. Specifically under the Engineering category.

The best way to educate yourself about culture is by surrounding yourself with culture.


18:17 Dunya and I talk about our favorite traditions that are unique to our little village in Palestine.

19:31 Dunya and I go into details about the structure of our villages 3 day weddings. We go into details talking about what happens in each day, how many people are invited and what we wear. We also share the specific customs that we follow during the 3 day celebration.

 • 23:57 Day 1 is called Jabel Al Henna or the Jableh for short (which is Palestinian Arabic slang meaning: Mixing.) We summaries what happens during this event. What time it happens, how long it lasts and who usually puts this party together. We also discuss how this day out of the 3 days is unique to our village and to our knowledge we are not aware of any other surrounding village/town in Palestine that celebrates this tradition.

25:38 Day 2 is called Al Henna. We talk about how this day is a way for the brides family to celebrate and bless their daughter through her transition into womanhood. I learned something new when Dunya was talking about the old traditions that happened on this day. Traditions that got lost with time.

28:14 Day 3 is the typical wedding day where the bride wears her white wedding dress. While the bride is getting her hair and makeup done the grooms family is hosting the grooms shower. Dunya and I start to disagree on if the grooms family members strip him down from his casual cloths or not, but we agree on the traditional poetry recited during the grooms shower to get him ready for his bride. I then talk about how the brides family say their goodbyes once the groom comes to pick her up from her family home.

34:05 Dunya and I talk about how spending summers in Palestine during wedding season has influenced our upbringing and our thinking.

Your traditions are what make your life colorful, take them with you wherever you go.


35:16 Dunya talks in detail about her collaboration with Architect Heba Nazer creating an Aerospace Architecture project for third year architecture students, creating true to scale prototypes of the best designs, building those prototypes from recyclable materials in Wadi Rum, Jordan (which is a desert environment similar to the planet Mars)

39:14 We go on tangent talking about all the different movies filmed in Wadi Rum and Petra like The Martian with Matt Damon and Indiana Jones and the last Crusade. Then, in typical big sister fashion, I took over telling everyone in the live chat about Dunya’s project instead of letting her finish. I go on to announce that BBC wants to create a 10 minute segment about the project Dunya and Heba Nazer worked on.

41:12 Dunya answers some questions – from the wonderful people in the live chat – about what type of architecture does she want to pursue after completing her bachelors. Dunya shares how in the long run she would love to learn more about designing one unite shelters that would be sustainable in harsh environments. For now, she wants to design emergency shelters to help people during/after environmental disasters.

You've found what you're passionate about when you find yourself practicing it in your free time.

Help me spread cultural awareness!

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Things we talked about:

Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight

I.G.C.S.E: International General Certificate of Secondary Education

I.B: International Baccalaureates 

 S.T.E.M: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership

S.T.E.A.M: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math

U.C.F Animation Program

S.I.C.S.A: Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture

Rum Valley

Petra: one of the new 7 world wonders

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