Palestine and Arabic Studies program begins fall semester with new students

Thirty-four students — internationals and diaspora Palestinians from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, France, and many other countries — joined the Palestine and Arabic Studies program (PAS) at Birzeit University for the 2019 fall semester. They were welcomed by the staff and administrators of the program in an orientation session on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. 

Rasha Kassis, the administrative and financial coordinator at PAS, explained the course structure, registration procedures, university regulations, and program bylaws.

Tagreed Abed, director of the program, introduced the students to the philosophy behind teaching Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic, as employed during course instruction, and discussed the extent to which this program offers language learning intertwined with an introduction to the political and cultural dimensions of the Palestinian community.

Additionally, the presenters introduced students to accommodation options in Ramallah and Birzeit, upcoming tours of the two towns, and the conversational partner program that brings together native Arabic speakers and international students to exchange spoken-language skills and knowledge. 

A team from the Public Relations Office familiarized the students with Birzeit University’s history, its current academic offerings, and the difficulties – and triumphs – of education under occupation. 

The team highlighted Israeli violations against the Palestinian right to education that include 15 closures of the university’s campus (the longest of which lasted 51 months) and constant harassment that ranges from having to pass checkpoints and circumnavigate road blocks in order to reach the university to arrests of students and professors both in their communities and on campus. More than eighty Birzeit University students are currently detained in Israeli prisons.