Aya Eghbaria is a master’s student in geography and urban and regional planning. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and law, completing her law internship at the Tel Aviv Public Defender’s office. Aya has also volunteered with many civic and human rights organizations. Through these experiences, she has become aware of the different ways to create a more just society.
"I realized that as a lawyer, I was working to rectify existing problems. I wanted to figure out how to prevent some of the problems from happening in the first place. In Arab towns, many of the most severe problems revolve around issues of land, housing, and zoning – and urban planning is a way to change these. When I first heard about the Urban Clinic’s approach to spatial justice, and the tuition scholarships available to become an urban planner, I knew the Hebrew University was the place to pursue my master’s degree."
Aya joined two of the clinic’s projects dealing with East Jerusalem. The first is a team project on affordable housing and urban planning. They are working with community groups to identify practical and creative methods to generate new, affordable homes. The second project addresses the lack of registered land titles for homes in East Jerusalem. Without registration, landowners cannot obtain construction permits or mortgages, or make any changes to their property. The team is investigating similar situations internationally and trying to bridge between government and community groups.
"I’m glad I joined the Urban Clinic from the beginning of studies, as it has helped me better understand my work as a planner and my professional future. The clinic plays an important role, translating academic knowledge to real-life situations."
Aya would like to continue studying for a doctorate, but also values working with people and communities. In this sense, Aya perfectly exemplifies the Urban Clinic, which strives to bridge academia and practice.