A while ago we were writing about our friend and colleague Nazmi, and his awful non-trip out of Gaza. Since then he tried several times to leave the Strip, but the double-whammy of erratic visa regulations and of exit permits meant that the right paperwork-time combination that would allow him to travel did not happen. Each time Nazmi invested lots of energy, time and money only to be disappointed and frustrated, over and over again. Months and months have passed, and he had to give up several opportunities to meet his colleagues in person to discuss the many international projects he’s engaged in, to take up invitation to talk about his work at conferences and to do all the other things people in academia take for granted. He had to make do with online meetings, with webinars and telecollaborations. But Nazmi is not a person to give up very easily and, at the 7th attempt, he made it!!
So here he is, finally with us in person, delighting us with his energy and the sheer happiness that comes from being able to move freely, to catch a train or a plane without being questioned or harassed, to meet us and his many other colleagues and collaborators in the UK, Norway, Finland, Germany. We all smile with him, because miracles happen.
Our project may (for now) be finished, but our work never is. The teams at the University of Glasgow and the Islamic University of Gaza never tire to talk about the Online Arabic from Palestine course to anyone who will hear us. Recently we have talked about the course and our collaboration at a workshop for Refugee Festival Scotland:
In Glasgow, for Refugee Festival, we learnt to count up to six in Arabic and to dance the Dabke. In Perth, we learnt words for primary colours and made more origami birds. During both workshops we learnt to greet each other, introduce ourselves and say where we’re from. Everywhere people are happy to hear about our project and willing to take part in all the creative activities we have in store for them.
Thanks to all the participants, of all ages, that have been with us during the many workshops we’ve held so far. You’re real stars! ⭐
For the past two Fridays the Glasgow team run an Arabic workshop, first in Glasgow (22nd February) and then in Newcastle on Tyne (1st March)
The workshops are aimed primarily at people who are working with refugees and asylum seekers, but are open to anyone interested in learning Arabic from the Gaza Strip for study, work or just interest. In the workshops we:
outline the importance of giving a space to the languages people seeking asylum and/or people who have refugee status;
offer information on the Online Arabic from Palestine language course (for beginners) that was developed through a collaboration between a team at the School of Education (University of Glasgow, UK) and a team at the Arabic Center (Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine); and
give a taster Arabic lesson for beginners
As part of our taster Arabic lesson we decided also to stand up and learn some steps of the traditional Palestinian dance called Dabke. Our team member Nihaya taught us a few steps, and everyone had so much fun!
Here are some workshop participant practising the Dabke and counting in Arabic:
Well, ok, we have a long way to go still before we match the professionals (see the wonderful video below for comparison 😉) but we all had a great time!
As well as dancing the Dabke while counting in Arabic, workshop participants learned to introduced themselves in Arabic and to say where they are from. Here are some of the comments by participants
“Thank you for the workshop, it was very informative and fun”
“Thank you for the workshop, it was great and I still remember the numbers”
“Thank you for the workshop and a very enjoyable dance”
“Thanks for the workshop, the Dabke was great”
We will also do the workshop in Manchester, on Friday the 8th of March. Check out the flyer below and contact Nihaya.Jaber@glasgow.ac.uk if you are interested in taking part!