NABLUS, West Bank — Four Palestinian high school friends are heading to California this week to pitch their mobile app about fire prevention to Silicon Valley’s tech leaders, after winning a slot in the finals of a worldwide competition among more than 19,000 teenage girls.
For the 11th graders from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the ticket of admission to the World Pitch Summit signals a particularly dramatic leap.
They come from middle class families that value education, but opportunities have been limited because of the omnipresent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, prevailing norms of patriarchy in their traditional society and typically underequipped schools with outdated teaching methods.
“We are excited to travel in a plane for the first time in our lives, meet new people and see a new world,” said team member Wasan al-Sayed, 17. “We are excited to be in the most prestigious IT community in the world, Silicon Valley, where we can meet interesting people and see how the new world works.”