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"PAS" Students in the First Semester

January 21, 2013
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"PAS" Students in the First Semester, 2012-13


Active Participation in Birzeit University and Palestine’s Cultural Life


Students of The Palestine and Arabic Studies (PAS) Program at Birzeit University (BZU) actively participated in athletics, cultural events, and community service of the first semester of the 2012-13 academic year.

The women’s football team of PAS won the cup of the open day program in the university after competing in a match that was attended by hundreds of enthusiastic students. (The men’s team didn’t secure first place like the women’s team, but they participated as well.)


PAS students represent twelve nationalities, bringing an international flavor to campus. During the open day a Swedish student pleased the audience when she sang a song in Arabic that made famous by the legendary Arab singer Fairuz.  She chose the poem, "A'atini al nay wa ghani" (“Give Me the Flute and Sing”), written by Jubran Khalil Jubran, the famous Lebanese-American poet and writer (1833-1931). At the same event, a Norwegian student surprised the university community with poems he had written in Arabic.


Poetry reading for Mahmmoud Darweish


PAS students went on three fieldtrips this semester. The first was to the area of Hebron and Bethlehem. Students were introduced to several ancient religious and historical sites. They also visited a traditional glass factory, spoke to the people of Hebron, walked through the Old City of Hebron, and listened to a talk about the restoration in the city presented by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee.

The second fieldtrip was to the north of the West Bank to the city of Nablus. Students walked around the Old City, visited historical houses and palaces, as well as  the Turkish Bath that is more than eight centuries old.  The trip also took students on a visit to the Samaritan community on Mount Gerizim.


The Salfit Governorate was the destination of the third fieldtrip. They had a firsthand experience with the reality of Israeli settlements and the Separation Wall. In addition, they visited the old village of Deir Istiya, toured its old houses and tomb. Then they hiked to Deir Sam'an to see the ruins of the ancient Roman site. The day was concluded by enjoying the Palestinian national dish, maqlouba (literally meaning “upside-down”) in the village of Deir Ballut.


October is the time of the annual olive harvest, so students had the opportunity to see for themselves the deep meaning this season holds for Palestinians. PAS students had the option to participate in voluntary, community service work during the harvest—an annual event which BZU students and staff are known for. The president of BZU, Dr. Khalil Hindi volunteered alongside the students picking olives.

The Community Service Program at BZU in which students volunteer in various fields has been helpful for the PAS students, in particular as a means for finding “conversation partners” and getting to know the country.


In addition to Arabic classes (fus-ha and colloquial), students had the option to study two courses in English (Palestine Question and Contemporary Arab Thought).  Students with an advanced level of Arabic also had the option to enroll in the courses BZU offers in Arabic. Moreover, while BZU is already an energetic campus with an outstanding amount of activities, the PAS Program organized three special public lectures on the topics of destroyed villages, the Separation Wall, and Islam. 


At the moment, PAS is finalizing its program for the second semester (January – April 2013) and planning its summer program as well. Director of PAS, Dr. Ahmad Azem Hamad says, “We believe the post-Arab Spring era needs special attention, especially how to study the Middle East at this moment, and we are looking to develop our courses and programs to answer such questions.”   


The PAS Program office is situated in the Building of the Kingdom of Bahrain near the Women’s Studies Program and only steps away from the Ibrahim Abu Lughd Institute for International Studies. This location gives PAS students more opportunity to interact with the welcoming staff, researchers, and students of the two programs.


Finally, a new restaurant was recently added to the campus dining options that students enjoy. Health Corner Cafeteria is unique in two aspects: the special supervision by the Faculty of Nursing and Allied Health Professions to provide healthy food, and a beautiful terrace with a view of the green hills that surround the university. 

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