Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Day Five: University and College Visits

Today the women went to universities and schools across London in their separate groups, where they met different lots of students, teachers and academics, gave presentations and even got people dancing! Here are some reports from the day...

By Caitlin Proctor (Hanin's buddy, yellow group)

On Tuesday morning Hanin, Saida and I had breakfast together at Katy’s house before heading to the Institute of Education. The girls worked on finalising their presentations for the day, before doing practice runs on me over coffee and cakes. We met with the rest of the group around half 11, and set up for the meeting at the IOE. The girls all gave excellent presentations, and there was some lively discussion around questions that people asked after the presentations. It would have been nice if there were more students in the audience- it was great that the people present were so engaged, but most of them were staff and I think the girls were a little disheartened not to have more student interest.

After lunch at the IOE, Hanin, Nadia, Hana and I were interviewed by Press TV at the IOE about the visit. Everyone really enjoyed this experience! Click here to watch the video. Our interview starts about ten minutes in.

After the interview we went to the British Museum - a visit which some of the girls really enjoyed and others found boring. After some more coffee and cake we took the girls to buy some souvenirs from shops around Bloomsbury. 
Saida and Hanin outside the Institute of Education
Our panel of speakers at the Institute of Education
Hanin and Caitlin being interviewed for Press TV
By Emily Danby (Saida's buddy, yellow group) 

In the evening, the girls headed to a vigil in support of Hana Shalabi, held outside of ULU, while I set up the evening event at SOAS. Even though the girls were tired from such a long day, they did a brilliant job at teaching the group some dabkeh. There was a great light-hearted atmosphere and everyone seemed genuinely interested in finding out more about the women's lives back in Abu Dis. It would have been great to attract a more diverse range of people- most were from Palestinian societies or had direct connections to the Middle East. Next time I'm involved in planning a student event, I'd like it to attract students from all backgrounds.

By Esra'a Shahin (Natalie's buddy, green group)

We woke up at 9am after spending the night at Annika’s house. We ate breakfast, which was bread chocolate spread and honey, then Fareeda came and took us to meet Hanna. Nadia was ill so Annika took her to the doctor and she didn’t come with us. We left the house at 10.30 and walked to the King’s Cross Station and waited there for Hanna. Then when she came we took a tour around St Pancras Station, then at 11.30 we reached the Institute of Education, where we met the Yellow team. Then Nadia came and after that we gave presentations about education in Palestine and refugees. Then we ate lunch provided by IoE- pizza- with the people who attended the presentation and had informal discussion of the presentations.

At 12.15 a woman came from a TV station and conducted interviews with Hanin, Nadia and their buddies, and the rest of us waited. After that we went to the British museum, looked around from 3.20 until 4.30, and then we rested in the gallery cafĂ© in the museum.  After that we when to the prisoner vigil at 5.30, which was organised to draw attention Hana’s Shalabi’s hunger strike, who is a Palestinian prisoner being held indefinitely in administrative detention without charge. She has been on hunger strike for 34 days, and we collected signatures for a petition that we will present to the European Union to pressure Israel to either formally charge her or release her. At the vigil we talked to the people who had come, and the people passing by, about Hana Shalabi and after that we had an amazing time talking to lots of amazing people. We left and went to SOAS and there we taught people dabkeh and ate Palestinian food and listened to Palestinian music, then we went back to our host’s house.

By Safaa Usmani (Samah's buddy, purple group)

I was really looking forward to visiting Stoke Newington School, as it is my old school. I told Samah and Fatmeh this, so they were asking me questions the night before about what the school looks like etc. Therefore, they went to SNS with some expectations- however, these expectations were greatly exceeded as the school had had a complete makeover! This was a great surprise for me as well. We were taken on a whirlwind tour of the school, visiting every department. Fatmeh and Samah were greatly impressed by the school’s facilities, especially the technology used, such as interactive whiteboards. It was interesting to hear the similarities and differences between this school and the girls’ experience of school. What surprised the students the most was the fact that there are usually 40-45 students in each class in Palestine, with only one teacher!

The girls really enjoyed visiting the school and thought it was beautiful. They did not, however, enjoy the walk between Stoke Newington and BSix College- I don’t think they’re used to walking far. BSix College wasn’t as much of a success- I don’t think the girls were very prepared for the Q and A session. They didn’t actually know what was expected of them at the college, but they managed to answer most questions asked. It would have been useful if we’d had an interpreter so that Fatmeh could express her opinion more.

In the late afternoon we went to New Look in Dalston, before the girls took part in a public talk at the local library. The turnout was good, with around 20 participants eager to hear Samah and Fatmeh’s stories. There was a good range of interest, including how the twinning of towns process works, what life was like specifically for women and, the most popular question of the week, how can we, in the UK, help Palestinians. By being aware of the situation was Samah’s most common answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment