Birzeit University students bolster ties with Japanese peers in virtual exchange program

Twelve Birzeit University students discussed Palestinian traditions and customs, and their university experiences, with 13 students from Osaka Jogakuin University in Osaka, Japan, as part of a virtual cultural exchange program between the two institutions that began on Thursday, March 18, 2021. 

The virtual exchange program is the result of a memorandum of understanding signed between Birzeit University and Osaka Jogakuin University to bolster academic cooperation and cultural exchange. Originally, students from both universities were meant to visit each others’ countries, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exchange program was held online. 

Dr. Amir Khalil, the external academic relations officer at Birzeit University, gave a brief overview of the institution, highlighting its 110-plus academic programs and discussing its impact on the Palestinian and regional communities through the various community-engagement programs offered by its 11 institutes and centers

The virtual exchange program with Osaka Jogakuin University, said Khalil, will expand the horizons of students from both universities and will allow them to explore other cultures, viewpoints, and perspectives. “Overall, students had a very positive reaction to the virtual exchange program,” Khalil added. “We’re currently looking into ways of expanding this initiative to include more students and more institutions.” 

Saul Takahashi, a professor of human rights and peace studies at Osaka Jogakuin University, introduced the university and its core areas of focus, noting that it is a private women’s higher education institution that’s well-known for technological innovation in teaching and learning.  The university, he added, focuses on human rights, peace studies, and English studies.

The weeklong virtual exchange program will include one-to-one and group sessions where students discuss their cultures and academic programs. Certificates will be handed to participants at the end of the program.