Monday, 29 July 2013

Four weeks in and what an experience it has been!

There's three of us on the Advancement team. Our job is multi layered – we’re helping to expand the university’s social media platforms as well as creating a video to encourage donors to donate much needed funds to the university. But, our main job is to help university students improve their English skills, and what fun it has been!

Welcome to the English Summer Course!
Due to demand we teach two classes of students on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and split our lessons between teaching the basics like spelling and grammar, as well as discussing grander themes like human rights and allowing our students to use their unique position to explain what human rights mean to them. The lessons have proven to be a spectacular hit with the students of Birzeit many of whom have asked for us to extend our lessons after the holy month of Ramadan is over.

Being based at Birzeit University has given the Advancement group a real opportunity to experience the life of a Palestinian student. You really get the sense that all the students are trying to create an environment as close to normal as possible whilst living in the midst of an open cage.

Our second lesson on 'Humour'
Funding is a constant issue for the university as it is unable to rely on the traditional means, thus fundraising has become a major part of the university’s operations. But even with generous donations from wealthy businessmen in the Gulf the university is constantly operating at a loss and the effect on the students education is not hard to imagine. Education is not a luxury, but a right for all.

Students in the class room
As well as working at Birzeit the Advancement team have had the opportunity to meet with some of the local campaigners who work tirelessly to publicise the Palestinian cause globally. Yesterday we were lucky enough to meet with a local BDS activist who campaigns for a global boycott of Israeli goods. He spoke of the numerous successes they had world wide. He mentioned the notorious G4S who had many contracts with the Israelis to manage check points through the area and have proven themselves to be just as negligent towards the Palestinian people as they have been to the poor of Britain, proof if proof were needed that the privatization of government does not necessarily result in a more effective or caring government.

The whole Advancement team is really enjoying its time at Birzeit University and look forward to see what the rest of our experience has to offer. 

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