1. What kind of source is this?
This was an interview with a lady named Saida Jarallah done in the spring of 1994. At the time, she must have been in her early 70s. She was one of the first Palestinian Muslim women to study abroad in the 1930s. This is an interview about her life, about social and cultural aspects of growing up as a young female in the 1930s in British Mandate Palestine.
Right after World War I, much of the Arab Middle East was divided into mandates that were granted to the British and the French by the League of Nations. In what became Israel later on, the territory of Palestine was granted to Great Britain. The mandates were supposed to be a training period for the Arab countries of the Middle East to eventually become independent. In the case of the Palestinian Mandate, this was not clear. Written into the mandate was the Balfour Declaration, which granted permission for the Jews to establish a national home in Palestine. There were contradictions as to protecting the rights of what they called the non-Jewish population, the Arabs (mostly Muslims, some Christians), and the rights of a burgeoning nationalist Zionist movement.
The period is about 1920 to 1948, and most of the young women of the middle or upper classes who were educated did not go abroad. Saida Jarallah went to England. And in the time period and society were talking about, that was something that broke with tradition. Saida Jarallah was doubly daring and innovative because she actually went to a Christian country, and the country of the occupiers, and studied there.
These young women were self-conscious about the fact that they were pioneers, which is a word that they actually used in the literature often. And they were very aware of the fact that they had to be extra careful as young Muslim women in a society that restricted womens mobility and roles. They had to be careful not to do things that would jeopardize those who came behind them.
When I left to England I was only eighteen. I finished school early and got a scholarship to study in England. My mother told me she worried about sending me but that she couldnt prevent me. She said that if something happened to my reputation then I would ruin things for my six sisters. She was worried about me because I was not used to talking to men and to come and go as I wish. I never forgot her tears and her tears made me be careful with whom I talked and with whom I visited. This was a very long time ago, in 1938.