The campus here at Birzeit is finally alive and full of students!
The beginning of the new semester has meant that we have been able to deliver our first ‘conversation classes’ and the response from the students of Birzeit has been completely overwhelming. We have covered two topics, the first a relatively standard introductory subject of ‘family’ and the second a more controversial session focusing on the idea of culture and cultural stereotypes in and of both the Arab and Western world.
The session on culture, arguably our first ‘proper’ lesson seemed to engage everyone. Not only did the students have the opportunity to practice their English (which is already of a relatively good standard), they were further able to hold several very stimulating and intelligent discussions. We focused on how students perceive other cultures and how they feel they are themselves perceived by the world. The aim of this lesson was to spark debate and challenge preformed stereotypes, something that we feel we have successfully achieved. Not only did we get the students to challenge their own preconceptions, we also ended up challenging ourselves and finding out that we too are guilty of ‘stereotyping’ others. The conclusion to each of these sessions (we held three similar ones throughout the day) was that to break down false perceptions we must not judge each other and must be open to new ideas as well as being happy to exchange our cultures with others in order to create understanding.