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 Debate Club: Dalia Ayasseh, Ramez Hayek.

Debate Club has been a continuation of multiple years of intracampus activities nationally and internationally. The Debate Club is one of AQB's most influential Initiatives as students have participated in Tournaments in other Palestinian Univeristies (Al Najah University) as well as other countries (Hungary, USA). It encourages students to stay alert and always think on their feet, as it develops the skills of conversing academically about all forms of topics using solid and structured tools to stay focused and coherent.

  

02 Student for Intellectual Engagement (SIE): Zeina Melhem

SIE's sole event during last semester was organized to complete multiple objectives on campus; Familiarize student bodies with the concept of Feminism, Identify the obstacles feminism and feminists face in our Palestinian Society and last but not least, help Feminism Enthusiasts coltivate the necessary tools to educate their environments to be more accepting of Gender Equality and political ramifications of Feminism and Sexism in our conflicted region.

  

03 Unheard Palestinian Stories (UPS): Bahaa Ebdeir.

UPS opened the door to provide a safe space for students to express their experiences as Palestinians living under Military Occupation as well as many strict social conditions. This Initiative saw a sharp rise to student popularity in the second year of its inception as more and more students became much more aware of the relief and comfort of self expression and group therapy. UPS was among the Projects showcased at the annual GET ENGAGED CONFERENCE 2020.

    

04 This is Palestine (TIP): Afnan Abbassi.

TIP has taken place twice last year as a celebration of Palestinian Heritage and Culture including clothing, cuisine, flok songs and historical background. As many of AQB's students are Palestinians who come from different parts of the world, TIP has given them the ability to know more about their country and culture thanks to a youthful representation of Pride and Nationalism in a time of cultural appropriation as well more encouraging and empowering aspect of the Palestinian History and Identity. 

 

05 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.

 

06 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.

 

07 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

 

08 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

 

09 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