Zajel Organizes Korean Festival



Over sixty Korean students came and visited the University. They were volunteers from InterSIA, a Korean organization that promotes cross cultural exchange and understanding. Mr. Ala Yousef, Coordinator of the Zajel Youth Exchange Program of the Public Relations Department, gave presentation about the Zajel Program. The Korean guests were then given a tour around both the old and new campuses of the university. They visited the Korean Palestinian IT Institute of Excellence, the Faculty of Art, the Faculty of IT and the Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Theatre. They also received an informative discussion about the Right to Education Campaign at the university. They walked around the campuses and interacted with the local students. This gave the students of An-Najah National University the opportunity to ask questions and get to know them better.


The next day students of An-Najah National University enjoyed the National Korean Festival held at the old campus. The day started off with an opening speech by Dr. Nabil Alawi, Director of the Public Relations Department. Dr. Alawi spoke of the importance of cross-cultural cooperation between students from different backgrounds. He stressed how honored he was to have the Koreans visit the campus, despite the difficulties of being in Nablus. “It gives us hope for a better future.” He then spoke about the great relationship that the university has with the Korean Embassy. He highlighted the importance of the Korean Palestinian IT Institute of Excellence donated by the embassy and how it has greatly helped over 1000 students at the university. He ended the speech by reiterating the importance of cultural exchange and how he hopes that these activities will create lasting friendships that will encourage future exchange.


This was then followed by an opening speech by Hyejil Lo-No, Coordinator of InterSIA student interchange. Mrs. Lo-No spoke of the importance of Asian international leadership. She felt it was important for the Korean students to come to Nablus instead of speaking to the local students by videoconference. “This is important because it allows us to forge personal relationships with each other.”


Mr. Yousef, then gave the Korean guests a short presentation on Palestinian history. He started the presentation by giving a short history about the British occupation of Palestine. He then gave an informative speech about the plight of Palestinian refugees and their desire to return to their homes. He ended the presentation with an overview of the affects of the 1967 war.


The Korean students were given the opportunity to perform traditional Korean music and dance. Several of the students demonstrated how to play Samulnori, a mixture of drum and gongs. This was followed by a beautiful demonstration of Buche Chum, traditional Korean dance.


The student performances were followed by an informative presentation about Korean society. Cho Hye, Coordinator of InterSIA, spoke about Korean life, economy, education, history and climate. This was a very useful presentation for the local students. It gave them the chance to further enhance their knowledge of other countries and cultures. This is desperately needed in a region where most students aren’t allowed to travel and experience different cultures firsthand. At the end of the presentations Dr. Alawi and Mrs. Hyejil thanked each other by exchanging plaques.


The presentations were immediately followed by a series of discussions at the library. Both the Korean and local students were able to come together to talk and learn more about each other’s cultures. Students discussed a wide array of topics including music, culture, language, and religion. This is an important part of any cultural exchange program because it gives both sides the chance to learn more about each other.


The Korean guests were then given several hours of free time. This gave them the chance to interact with the local university students on a more personal level. The Koreans organized many fun activities such as Tai-Kwon-Do, water balloon fights, and painting Korean words on the local students. This created a relaxing environment that encouraged the local students to come and get more involved. Several of the students acted out an amusing drama show. A quick walk around the campus clearly showed how well the students interacted together. Every part of the campus was filled with local students trying to learn more about the Korean guests. Cultural exchanges such as this are vital for the local students. It allows them to get a taste of other cultures and beliefs. It also gives them the opportunity to speak to foreigners about their hardships and frustration.


The festival ended with a friendly match of basketball and soccer between the Koreans and local students. It was a wonderful way to end the day’s events. Both the Korean and local students got to play hobbies that are popular in both countries. It was a great way for them to bond. The events and activities that were organized throughout the day truly did help forge personal relationships between the Korean guests and local students.