Palestine Ahliya University (PAU) among other universities has received a sub-grant from Stevens Initiative Grantees to implement the program “Global Scholars Achieving Career Success” (GSACS) which is an international virtual exchange program, implemented in partnership with several community colleges in the United States and universities in the Middle East and North Africa.
The program is led by LaGuardia Community College in partnership with Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), Hostos Community College, Guttman Community College, and Queens College, in addition to four universities from the Middle East and North Africa which are Abdelmalek Essaâdi University in Morocco, The American University in Cairo, and Jordan University of Science and Technology and PAU. PAU has joined to develop and implement the program during the next two years; where the Virtual Exchange Program (GSACS) will bring together the exploration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), experimental learning, and career readiness activities.
With the generous donation of the Stevens Initiative, in the amount of 750,000.00 USD, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Aspen Institute, this international cooperation has been made possible. [https://www.stevensinitiative.org/announcing-the-2021-stevens-initiative-grantees/].
The GSACS virtual exchange program aims to have a positive impact on more than 3,500 students at The City University of New York and partner institutions in the Middle East and North Africa region. This funding will expand and promote virtual exchange, also known as Collaborative Online International Learning COIL, between partners, by creating inquiry-based, experiential, and career-oriented international learning opportunities for our students.
Dr. Imad EL-Zeer, Acting President of Palestine Ahliya University, expressed the importance of this cooperation: “Palestine Ahliya University has the honor to join this significant program, which fully aligns with its priorities and plans, especially those related to openness and globalization and the exchange of experiences with diverse international educational institutions.”
Palestine Ahliya University selected faculty members and their international partners will receive professional development in virtual exchange and experiential learning pedagogy before implementing GSACS in their Course credit hours. After the development process, faculty partners will lead their students through collaborative activities that focus on specific goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Students in each virtual exchange will collaboratively explore a UN SDG through dialogue with peers, professors, and industry experts from the U.S. and MENA region using smartphone-friendly platforms. Virtual exchange students will build on this knowledge by engaging with local communities and/or relevant organizations to choose and examine the causes and impact of an international issue and to develop solutions at the local, national, and global levels.
Each virtual exchange project culminates in international teams presenting their work at a transnational virtual student-led conference. The program will be concluded with a career development workshop where participants engage in presenting their ideas on how their developed competencies translate into career success.
It is worth mentioning that the project staff at the university includes Mr. Khaled Shanaa, Mr. Haitham Hijazi, and Ms. Dalia Shakhtor, where they will follow up on the implementation and coordination of the activities of the project.