East Jerusalem –Palestinian and American education officials say the unique partnership between Al Quds University and Bard College (New York) is gathering steam.
“Seeing is believing. I say to those who, thought that such a partnership is impossible, the proof is right there in front of you,” said Al-Quds University President Imad Abu Kishek, pointing to the 51 graduates of the Al-Quds Bard Class of 2017, attending the Ninth Commencement Ceremony of this unique program.
Speaking following the ceremony for Al Quds Bard College, Vice President for Academic Affairs for Bard College Jonathan Becker shared the sentiments of Abu Kishek, adding that no other college in the U.S. has done what we have.
“There are about 5,000 American universities and one has a dual degree program with a Palestinian university. I think there is only one American institution which would do this, which is Bard and one Palestinian university which would do this which is Al Quds.”
Becker also says that both universities not only value each other’s partnership, but have a wonderful friendship that gets warmer by the day.
In 2009, Al Quds University combined with Bard College in New York to open Al Quds Bard College — the first liberal arts school in the Middle East.
Abu Kishek spoke about the importance of Liberal Arts education, complimenting on the creativity Al-Quds Bard College students have walked away with over the past years.
“The desire to seek out and explore new horizons, break the norms and flex the creative muscles requires not only great effort but bravery from the students and a system of teaching that has been adopted through the special bond that only exists between two universities. And that is what makes Al-Quds Bard College what it is today,” said Abu Kishek.
Through this exclusive relationship, Al Quds Bard College is strengthening the development of a center for Arabic for students from abroad as well as expanding the undergraduate college and the master’s program.
Bard College President Leon Botstein said that strategizing the partnership between Al Quds University and Bard College in New York for the next decade can now begin.
“We hope that next year we will celebrate ten years and have a plan for the next ten years,” he said adding that he is “very optimistic about the expansion of the long range (Al Quds-Bard) partnership.”
Forty Six undergraduate students participated in the commencement along with several graduate students who earned their Master’s degree in the art of teaching.
“These programs have helped impact young people who are going on to wonderful careers in Palestine and abroad and teachers who are in-service teachers, literally working with tens of thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and Jerusalem,” Becker said.
In light of the attendance by a delegation from the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Botstein said that regardless of the US government’s positions towards the Palestinian cause, educating the Palestinians is crucial and the August 2017 ceremony is a reminder of the bright future for a nation that has its own pride, identity, educational institutions and intellectual traditions.
“I feel as an American, we have to, despite our government, play a constructive role through education and through culture in building friendship and a peaceful world where people’s aspirations can be realized,” Botstein added.
Visiting American Professor Gary English has been coming to Palestine off and on since 2010. He is currently the head of media studies at AQB. He says the campus is a “great Intellectual environment.”
Bana Abu Zuluf is one of 46 Bachelor students to graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in Human rights/ International Law. She described her four years as “astonishing.”
“It was a great experience for me, for my family and the rest of my colleagues. I gained a lot. I learned a lot. And I’m ready to move on,” she said.
Palestinian Education Minister Dr. Sabri Saidam, Dean at Al Quds Bard Honors College Dr. Munther Dajani and the Chairman of the Al Quds – Bard Board of Advisors Dr. Adnan Mujali were also in attendance.
Al-Quds University (AQU) is a national research university based in Jerusalem, Palestine.
Established in 1984 as the only Arab university in the city of Jerusalem, AQU currently offers 93 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, taught through its fifteen degree-granting faculties.