Students Life

 

Student-Led Initiatives

Student-Led Initiatives (SLI) is a program in which students design and run projects that they themselves conceive and build. The students are responsible for funding, event planning, and recruiting volunteers. Current student projects include an interactive English tutoring program, a Model UN team that hosted an international conference, Slam Poetry, Composting, and music lessons in underprivileged areas. The projects begin with students’ curiosity and passion, and result in projects that impact a corner of the campus, a village or neighborhood, or even the international community. SLI is open to anyone with the desire to sensibly connect to the world around them—connect with their hands, through relationships, through organizing, through building, through knowing how things are and how they got to be that way. Making these kinds of connections allows students to be close to the consequences of their actions.

Conducting a project is a hands-on process that demands rigorous reflection and continuous redefining of purpose and methods. Along the way students are challenged to ask hard questions that allow them to reconstitute their projects in relation to their personal history and chosen filters of experience. Extended reflective writings focused on self-awareness and theoretical critique serve as a balance to operating with authority on site.

At the College we believe that trusting students with the space to make their own decisions engenders a sense of agency, one gained through experience assimilated outside of the classroom. The intention is to produce leaders engaged in communities. This should not be conflated with successful projects. Therefore mistakes are expected—this is how learning happens—and the program coordinator’s role is to step in only when there is an opportunity for teaching. The SLI coordinator supports students by providing strategic counseling and workshops in communication, fundraising and group facilitation.

 

PROJECTS DESCRIPTIONS

01 The First University-Level International Palestinian Model United Nations

For the first time in Palestine, a vision of students will lead in creating the biggest change among the Palestinian youth educational movement. This upcoming May, Palestine will host its first international Model United Nations conference in which 300 students from Palestine, Europe, Middle Eastern neighboring countries and the US will come together in Al-Quds University and work as delegates representing various countries to find solutions to contemporary global conflicts ranging from environmental issues to economic crises which had been set on the agenda of UN.

 

02 BEST: Bard English Student Tutoring

In BEST, we teach English interactively to government/UNRWA Palestinian students. We take them on trips every Thursday and through each one, they become engaged in the community while learning English. Our mission is to provide these less advantaged students a safe environment where they can fully express themselves; even if it's in another language. Student organizers: Ayat Kanaan and Laila Quraan.

 

03 Music as Civic Engagement.

This project, aims to provide musical training through school visits and workshops to young Palestinian students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to study music. First, we will contact the headmasters of the school who can help us to use classes as rooms for rehearsing music in the afternoon. Next, with the cooperation of a group of musicians from the Edward Said conservatory, we will organize workshops for the children in the villages and refugee camps in Ramallah. This step will help us to explore and discover the talents that different children from different ages have. The project does not only include children, but also includes strengthening the relationship with parents who completely believe that their children should not learn music. Changing their beliefs and ideology can be done through debates and sessions to fully understand the importance of music for children. Student organizer: Reeda Alji

 

04 Life, Science, Education

Our project addresses aspects that include life, science, and education. It will focus on turning food waste (fruits/vegetables) into fertilizers for the soil. This benefits the community by reducing its food wastes, thus providing a healthier environment. As university students, we witness a lot of food waste getting thrown away in large amounts everyday in the university’s cafeterias. So we thought why not get benefit from the waste by turning it into compost. Student organizers: Shafa Jaffal and Sondos Odeh

 

05 Uncensword

UncensWord is a spoken word project that encourages expression in a place where that is difficult. We work to have students think outside of what they're taught to think is normal and "ok" and help them to talk through deeper ideas.  Through this, different ideas have manifested themselves. We see girls talking about being a women in this society, the guys talking about war, and the students collectively letting out their frustrations in a constructive and safe manner. Our future is heading towards outreach programs and community involvement. When we began, we were overwhelmed with people wanting to share their thoughts and we feel it is something that may help the community as a whole in terms of feeling like they're not alone. We are also currently working with Bard in Berlin to connect our spoken word groups and eventually with other Bard campuses. Student organizers: Ayat Kanaan and Laila Quraan