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Building Global Bridges: Parami connects virtually with Palestinian students from An-Najah National University

Updated: Jun 19

Parami connects virtually with Palestinian students from An-Najah National University

Parami students have traveled to countries such as Thailand, Kenya, Hungary, Germany, Colombia, and the United States as part of their extracurricular activities and internships. There are also virtual opportunities that have been arranged by the university to connect Parami students with international peers without leaving their homes, one of which was the Virtual Exchange Dialogue session in collaboration with An-Najah National University, located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, West Bank. An-Najah National University is an institution experienced in virtual exchange programming through its Virtual Exchange Collaborative in the Center for Academic and Professional Development.

During this virtual exchange session, students exchanged ideas and learned from each other’s experiences on topics such as liberation, activism, social change, and more. The session was facilitated by selected Parami students and the Virtual Exchange Ambassadors at An-Najah, and it proved to be a very enriching and intellectually stimulating experience for students from both universities.

Exploration of values and perspectives 

The activities during the session were tailored to encourage self-reflection and cultural exploration among participants. The participants created a values collage, envisioned a “Day in the Life” of their partner culture, and crafted a personal “cultural iceberg.” During the cultural iceberg activity, the participants discussed how, just like an iceberg, the visible part of culture is only a small part of a much larger whole. The participants reflected on their cultural elements and aspects that are visible and the ones that can only be suspected, guessed, or learned as they reflected to understand cultures. The session itself was divided into breakout rooms and plenary sessions. During the breakout rooms, the student facilitators led dialogue and interaction between students from PU and ANNU. 

All of the activities that participants engaged in were designed based on ANNU’s intercultural dialogue framework aimed at supporting students in sharing their personal values, cultural understanding, and perspectives on social change and activism. Reflection prompts students to synthesize their learnings and takeaways from the session. During the break-out room discussions, both ANNU and PU facilitators helped ensure that all students were comfortable discussing and sharing their perspectives and opinions. 

Learning from the parallels

Students from both campuses have witnessed and experienced many similar situations.

Beesen, the Lead Senior VE Ambassador from ANNU, shared, “Facilitating the breakout room discussion was profoundly moving. Watching students from Burma and Palestine share their experiences and reflect on the parallels of the challenging geopolitical realities they face highlighted the power of dialogue in fostering mutual understanding and respect. This session will be one of the most memorable collaborations that I have experienced.” She was happy to see that the connections with the students from each university were strong and that the discussions were really interesting and deep, but at the same time, fun and remarked how much she hopes to do similar activities in the future with PU students.

This successful collaboration has also been attributed to Cathryn, Eaint Thet Hmu, and May Lawoon Lwin, three Parami students who were the main facilitators on behalf of PU. Cathryn shared, “As a facilitator, I enjoyed collaborating behind the scenes with fellow facilitators from both PU and ANNU.” She also said that as a participant, interacting with diverse perspectives expanded her worldview and enhanced her knowledge of her own culture from her peers.

Eaint also considered it to be “an enriching experience and an honor.” She added, “I came to understand the importance of cultural immersion, highlighting how exchange can meaningfully help to gain mutual understanding and respect.” May La also reflected on her experience of facilitating and participating in these discussions as her “privilege.” She thoroughly enjoyed how “all the participants were eager to exchange cultural experiences regardless of the differences,” which effectively made her learn a lot.

Enriching experiences at Parami University

The cross-cultural exchange programs at Parami University offer unique opportunities for students to immerse themselves in different cultures, broaden their perspectives, and develop valuable intercultural communication skills. Key features include cultural immersion, language learning, global networking, and academic enrichment. The collaboration with An-Najah National University was a remarkable opportunity that allowed two groups of global south students with immense geographical and connectivity barriers to connect and learn from each other. In the upcoming months, Parami undergraduate students will have further opportunities to participate in internship and exchange programs in Taiwan, and the United States. 

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