PAS Program Visits the University, the City of Nablus and Balata Refugee camp



A group from the Palestinian Arabic Studies Program at Birzeit University, PAS, visited the university on the 21st July 2007. Dr. Nabil Alwi, Director of the Public Relations Department, welcomed the delegation. A presentation was done by Mira Nabulsi, a volunteer in Zajel Youth Exchange Program on the projects conducted by Zajel, made a presentation about An-Najah National University and about Zajel. She spoke about the international summer camps, study visits and the media unit ran by Zajel. Then she explained the details of the campís activities that Zajel made every year; volunteering in Askar Refugee Camp, workshops on the political situations in Palestine and working with children in need. She spoke about the publishing of the oral history book of the 1948 war, and the galleries that Zajel has done on the images, stereotypes, heritage and culture.       



Ala Yousef, the Coordinator of Zajel Youth Exchange Program, gave a presentation about the right to education campaign; he spoke about the problems that face the university and its students in different aspects. In his brief presentation, Mr. Yousef explained the Israeli violations of An-Najah National University students and faculty rights and their detrimental affect on the academic process. Some of these violations include: checkpoints, physical attacks on the city and its students during invasions, curfews, and other forms of violence. After the presentation, guests went to the radio station and saw the editing room. They also learned how the staff gathers and presents the news.


The guests then toured around the new campus and were introduced to the different faculties that the university offers. Then they went to the Fine Arts Faculty in the new campus and made interviews with girls and boys from different cities and villages in the West Bank who study at the university. They got to learn firsthand troubles that the students face from the Israeli soldiers every time they cross the checkpoints. They spoke about the problems they face; physically or mentally; then they spoke about the financial problems they face and how poverty is expanding amongst the Palestinians. There were so many questions about how education for Palestinians is used as a weapon that helps them to confront their enemy.


After they finished the interviews, Mark James, an American volunteer talked about the media unit that heís working for in coordination with the Journalism Department at the university. The project is about producing films to show teenagers in American schools the daily suffering that Palestinians face as well as telling them how the Israeli occupation destroys Palestinian culture. Some difficulties facing this project are the occupation and the perception in foreign countries.


The guests saw the destruction caused by Israeli invasions in the old city. They also visited some of the sites which mark the cultural heritage of this very old city: architectural sites, markets, and Turkish baths.

A tour was organized through Balata refugee camp by the Yafa Cultural Center where guests saw first hand the troubles of the refugee's daily lives in this over crowded refugee camp. Tayseer Nasrallah, the Head of the Steering Committee at the center, spoke to his guests about the right of return and the living conditions in the camp.