UofG welcomes Palestinian students

UofG welcomes Palestinian students

Issued: Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:50:00 GMT

The largest single group of Palestinian students to take part in an exchange programme with a UK university have arrived in Glasgow.

The University of Glasgow is profoundly committed to scholarship as an ethical and global endeavour.

The eight students from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) have begun their studies at the University of Glasgow on this ambitious global language and education programme.

The project between Glasgow and Gaza came about after the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (SMLC) won two grants worth a total of €585,150 from the Erasmus International Credit Mobility scheme.

The scheme supports sending and receiving students and staff to and from partner countries beyond the European Union (EU).

The Palestinians had to overcome last-minute border closures, months of delays, and protracted and very uncomfortable journeys in order to get here.

This ambitious exchange programme has developed from the English for Academic Study Telecollaboration (EAST) Project - a collaborative research and writing project between Science and Engineering students in Glasgow and IUG.

The largest single group of Palestinian students to take part in an exchange programme with a UK university have arrived in Glasgow.

At a welcome event the students and staff from both Glasgow and Gaza spoke of their joy that the exchange had finally started.

Manar Elhopy, who is studying a Masters in Applied Linguistics and Translation, speaking on behalf of her fellow IUG students in Glasgow, said: “We would like to thank everyone who has helped make this exchange a reality. We are greatly honoured to be the first students from IUG to come to Glasgow. Over the past eight months, which is longer than the courses we are currently studying in Glasgow, we have been trying to travel from the heart of Gaza to the heart of Scotland – Glasgow. Finally the two hearts have met and we hope will forever be joined.”

Dr Nazmi Al-Masri, an Associate Professor Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Curriculum Development at IUG, speaking via a video link, said: “We are so happy to see our dream a reality and see our students in Glasgow. It is part of a long-term plan to work with Glasgow to build bridges – linguistic, academic, and cultural. We hope our students will enjoy the experience of learning in Glasgow. Our hearts and minds are with them and we wish them the best success in their studies. We know they will come back to Gaza with more knowledge and richer in experience. You have made history by getting to Glasgow and being the first students to do this.”

Perseverance and courage 

Professor James C Conroy PhD FAcSS, Vice Principal Internationalisation, said: “The University of Glasgow is profoundly committed to scholarship as an ethical and global endeavour. This commitment is seen in GRAMNet, GCID and other structured opportunities to bring together colleagues from across the University in shared endeavour. It is in this spirit that we have been delighted to welcome eight students from the Islamic University of Gaza. We hope that this visit with all its challenges will herald further and deeper collaboration between our University and colleagues working in challenging environments in Gaza and elsewhere.

“I am particularly pleased that the funds to support this visit came from the European Union’s Erasmus+ ICM (International Credit Mobility) fund, which has seen the University of Glasgow take the #1 spot in the UK in 2017/18. Much credit is to be afforded to those who led these bids from across all four Colleges and Central Services, most especially in this case Dr. Luis Gomes from SMLC and Celine Reynaud in the mobility team who co-ordinates ICMS across the institution.”

Partnership

The University of Glasgow project team was led by Anna Rolinska and Bill Guariento, from the English for Academic Study Unit at SMLC. For three summers they have worked with IUG on the EAST Project, exploiting a range of digital platforms to build a winning language/skills-development partnership. Anna said: “I would like to thank everybody involved in Glasgow and Gaza for their perseverance, and for their courage to dream big and act on that.”

Bill added: “Six months ago, students from Thailand, China and Palestine were working together online. Now here they are, together in this room. It’s wonderful!”

Dr Luis Gomes, formerly College of Arts Mobility Officer, said: “As we say to all our students coming to study at the University of Glasgow and we now say to our Palestinian students – World Changers Welcome. It is great to see you here.”

The exchange project was supported by staff across the University including our Erasmus Office and Accommodation Services. Professor Alison Phipps, School of Education and UNESCO Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, who has worked on a number of University projects with IUG and Dr Al-Masri, said: “Glasgow is the University in the world with the greatest number of funded projects and partnerships with the Islamic University of Gaza. We have been able to pioneer digital education links, and we are delighted to welcome such a large group of Palestinian students to our city and university.”

It was also supported by both the Foreign Office and the British Council. John Knagg, Global Head, English for Education Systems, at the British Council, speaking at the welcome event, said: “This is a very innovative and collaborative project. It talks to what the British Council is all about - international knowledge and understanding. The original EAST project saw amazing results, including improved language skills, academic knowledge, team working, and intercultural awareness. We are delighted to see these students now in Glasgow, learning and making new friends.”