Zajel Youth Exchange Program and the School of Political Science and International Studies at Queensland University organized a video conference on the Right to Education where they discussed the impact of the Israeli siege on academic freedom.
The conference began with a short presentation by Ala Yousef, the Coordinator of Zajel Youth Exchange program, who briefed the Australian students with the latest developments on the situation in both the An-Najah National University and Nablus city.
Brooke Rogers, a PhD Candidate and Tutor in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland, introduced her group of students. She thanked the Zajel Program and its volunteers for a wonderful and enlightening discussion. She added, My students were very moved by the stories of the volunteers of Zajel.. I think it was an eye opening experience for many of them and I feel that we have learned a lot from this encounter. And she concluded, I am hoping that our correspondence will continue. My students were excited about the prospect of corresponding with your students. Hopefully we can arrange an exchange of email addresses. Ms. Rogers added that the peace building course she teaches is only taught for one semester every year.She feels that one video link up once a year is not enough and would like to facilitate numerous conferences.
Questions from the University of Queensland’s students were given to the An-Najah students and the questions concentrated on the daily life under occupation. Students of An-Najah explained the plight they are going through as a result of the daily obstacles facing them on their way to the campus.
Ala Yousef, the coordinator of Zajel spoke about the psychological impact of the current situation on the students’ psychological health, especially about the girls’ nightmares, some of the questions on travelling out of Palestine, the one or two state solution, the contribution of the new generation to peace, the Palestinian curriculum, the oral history of Palestine and the war of 1948 and the deportation of the Palestinian people and the philosophy of non-violent means of resistance.
Bisan Ramadan, Student at the Faculty of Pharmacy and volunteer in the Right to Education Campaign of Zajel said, “I learned from the debate with our Australian fellows, and it was a great opportunity for me to overcome the impact of siege that disallows us to interact with other cultures and nations. Such interaction will help us change our stereotypes about other cultures”.
The discussion between both groups was fruitful and both students will exchange email addresses to continue the debate on the controversial issues that arose during the conference.