On Monday, four Brandeis students coordinated an event to welcome Amneh Badran, a professor of Political Science at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. Her visit was part of the Brandeis University/Al-Quds University partnership which began in 2003. The informal reception was opened by Saghi Sofinzon ’11, who traveled to Istanbul in 2008 and met with Al-Quds University students. He was followed by Holly Devon ’11 who participated in discussions based on texts, toured the facilities, and spoke with faculty members when she visited Al-Quds University. “It was valuable for me to see how other people learn,” she said. “It was one of the most defining experiences of my time here.” She hoped that the evening’s program would consist of discussion between students and the faculty/staff in attendance regarding the future of the partnership, and how they can use it to improve student life on both campuses (especially in terms of community-building and infrastructure).
Next to speak was Dan Kryder, Associate Professor of Politics at Brandeis. Prof. Kryder expressed his desire to pursue archival research opportunities on the Al-Quds University campus. He mentioned that Prof. Badran spoke to Brandeis Politics students earlier that day about peace groups in Israel based on a book that she wrote. “There was the right amount of disagreement in the room,” he noted. He also stated that the partnership has achieved quite a lot thus far, and would like to see a new dimension related to leadership in the future.
Prof. Badran summarized her sentiments by saying: “any effort that provides a chance for cooperation should be welcomed without hesitation.” She wants to ensure that both institutions are equal members of the partnership, meaning that Brandeis benefits from it as much as Al-Quds University does. She feels that the first phase of the program deserves closure: one way to do this would be to have students who have been involved thus far write about their experiences in order to enable others to learn from them. Currently, Al-Quds University is trying to organize itself better, improve the quality of teaching, and build newer and better facilities.
Stephen Robinson ’11 (along with Claire Cooper ’11) led the discussion about future intentions of the program. He personally would like to see stronger ties forged between the two student bodies. He wants the student partnership to be long-lasting, which is difficult considering how the majority of student participants are graduating this May. Other suggestions offered by those in attendance included: having the partnership anchored within the academic curriculum, the formation of an explicit Brandeis-Al Quds University student organization, have a fellowship opportunity available at both schools that enforces the sustainability of the relationship, branching out to other Arab institutions, using media such as Skype to keep in contact, teaching the same course at both universities and collaborating with each other (to help with the language barrier difficulties), enlisting the aid of Arabic students and faculty at Brandeis, providing more opportunities for educational advancement for female Al-Quds University faculty members, and many more. Whatever form the future of the partnership ends up taking, it will hopefully remain a strong, sustainable relationship.