جامعة النجاح الوطنية
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The Office of International Development and External Affairs, in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering, Department of English Literature, and Translation Hub student society, organized a closing event for the participants of the Soliya Connect Global and Connect Express virtual cross cultural dialogue programs on Thursday, May 12th. The event aimed at recognizing the contributions of all participating students and alumni of the programs for their commitment and efforts to engage with diverse people from around the world as well as highlight the support of the participating professors and departments in the program.


The event was opened with a poem and moment of silence to honor the life of renowned journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh by Shahd Asa'ad.

Opening remarks were then made on the importance of all forms of cultural exchange for students' personal and academic success by the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr Abdulsalam Khayyat as well as remarks by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Dr Samer Arandi, and the Chair of the English Department and Vice Dean of the Humanities Faculty, Dr Ahmad Qabaha. Soliya's Connect Programs Manager, Ms Asma Abdelrahman also attended and discussed the quantitative and qualitative data Soliya has compiled around the changes found in the participants across the Middle East, Europe and North America in their perceptions and awareness of different cultures as well as their global competency skills.  Mrs. Alia Gilbrecht, who oversees implementation of the Connect Programs for An-Najah, briefly recognized the commitment and efforts of the participating students and professors who supported the program and highlighted the students with perfect attendance.oming fall semester. This is one of the largest virtual exchange collaborations within higher education in the West Bank.

Following these remarks, students had the opportunity to engage with one another and discuss their experiences including challenges and highlights of the program, professors also reflected on how this program can directly support students in other areas of their coursework, and alumni and continuing engagement opportunities were also shared. The head coach for the English branch of the University Debate Society, Tayseer Alawneh, then briefly shared a bit about opportunities for students to continue engaging with and learning about global challenges and understanding different experiences and beliefs through debate trainings and participation in international debate competitions.

The event Organizing Committee members were all made up of outstanding alumni of the Connect Global program's fall 2021 semester, including Rand Meflh, Ethar Qasho’a, Ali Hmaidi Naser, Jawad Abdallah, and Shahd As'ad as well as several volunteer student alumni through the leadership of the Translation Hub student society, who both organized and led the moderation of the event with support of the Public Relations department.

The Connect Program is an online cross-cultural education program integrated into course curricula in several different academic departments that provides young adults with a unique opportunity to establish a deeper understanding for the perspectives of others around the world on important socio-political issues and to develop 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, and media literacy.  Rand Mufleh, alumna of the Fall 2021 eight week Connect Global program and member of the ceremony’s Organizing committee, reflected on her experiences in the program, “The Connect Global program shrank the world and let me see it through others' eyes. This experience gave me the opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds and hear their perspectives and ideas on a variety of topics. Each effective discussion between members ends up finding common ground with beneficial thoughts and magical memories. In addition, it enhanced my social skills like flexibility, tolerance, and engaging with differences. It developed my speaking skills, critical thinking and my ability to observe things with an analytical eye. One important thing that deserves to be mentioned, is that this experience reminds you that you, as an individual, can have your space and raise your voice with full respect without judging.”

As awareness increases of the benefits of this program since the University began officially collaborating in 2020, it’s become a crucial component to the University’s strategic plan of targeting the Sustainable Development Goal 4 by developing quality, student-centered equitable and inclusive learning environments and cultivating global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity among the student body. Starting with 35 students in the four week Connect Express program in the fall of 2020 as a pilot collaboration, initiated by Mrs. Alia Gilbrecht through the Office of International Development and External Affairs and with the support of Dr Kherieh Rassas, the collaboration has expanded to 137 students in both the four and eight week programs in the Spring 2022 semester and collaboration will expand to include 155 students in the coming fall semester. This is one of the largest virtual exchange collaborations within higher education in the West Bank.


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