20 June 2013
The first cohort of SOAS students attending An-Najah National University, in Nablus, has now completed their year abroad.
The eight students, all from the BA Arabic programme, studied Arabic at the Palestinian university and lived in Nablus, a city of 130,000 residents in the West Bank, approximately 30 miles north of Jerusalem. With a history stretching back almost 2,000 years, it is an ancient commercial and cultural centre.
At the end of their course, the University staged a formal graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the students and to emphasise the significance of offering an Arabic program such as this to the outside world. The ceremony was attended by UK Consul Vincent Fean and addressed by the University President Rami Hamdallah, who has since been appointed Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. The students participated in the speeches, offering thanks in Arabic to all the teachers for their support.
Third year student Lara Allen-Mepham said: “The mixture of dedicated teaching, and hard-work put into making the program work, combined with living in the seclusion of Nablus makes for a special year, out of the usual practices that we are accustomed to.”
Dr Stefan Sperl, Senior Lecturer in Arabic and Year Abroad Convenor for the Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East, said: “Judging by the student feedback received and by the impression gained from my visit there last November, the Arabic year abroad arrangements in Nablus are exemplary. The Head of the Arabic Department, Dr Raed, fielded an excellent team of teachers, the courses were highly effective and well-organised and the University welcomed our students very generously.”
An-Najah National University issued an illustrated announcement about the graduation.
SOAS BA Arabic students also have the opportunity to spend their year abroad at institutions in Amman, Jordan and Alexandria, Egypt.