Campus causerieA spectrum of cultural activities at Saba University and UST, Sana’a [Archives:2005/826/Education]

March 21 2005

By Dr Ayid Sharyan and Amar Al Qadi
A Celebration And Speech Competition was held at Saba University by the Department of English on Thursday 13-12-2004. The event ,the first of its type, was a spectacular success thanks to the efforts of the organizing committee The Rainbow Group which implies unity in diversity. A number of students from all levels, university members, and parents attended the program. Many students participated in the different phases of the competition comprising Greeting Word, recitations from the Holy Quran, Reciting Poems, acting out a play, Debate and Speech Competition. Successful competitors were awarded merit certificates after the resolution of the panel of judges (Dr Ayid Sharayn, Dr Ahmed Al Qadasi, Dr Abdulsalam Al Gherafi and the lecturer Fairuz Daifalllah). The Celebration and the Debate were supervised by a number of professional university teachers of English from Sana'a University

The program was inaugurated with a reading from the Holy Quran by Mohamad Al Wasabi. Then the session of poem recitation began. About twenty students recited poems of different themes related to love, migration patriotism, etc. This was followed by a sketch dealing with the misuse of English displaying little learning ,ultimately leading to total distortion of the texture of translation. The sketch was prepared by Amar Al-Qadi who acted a role in addition to Ahmad Al Daouis and Nabel Al Sagheer- of 3rd level . This was followed by a debate 'On Migration: Pros and Cons'. A section of immigrant students presented their views with numerous illustrations on the benefits of immigration. A counterargument was presented by their opponents.

Amar Alqadi,for instance, pointed out that Immigration has been recommended in all religions, cultures and sects because it is important to improve one's standards of life. It solves social, economic, and political problems. A similar view was held by Hanan Al Ammar who stated numerous justifications for immigration: upward social mobility, get better dividends in life and education. Cowards and cynics who did not reach out in their lives have a pathetically limited vision. Abdullah Al Khonbashi argued that people who travel are of great use to their home countries. They serve their people in the best possible way. Without migration, it would not be possible for them to build schools, hospitals, industries, and many other vital projects. Yasimn Qaid held the view that immigration is unavoidable for Yemenis due to poverty and a spirit of exploration. But modern perspectives are no doubt mixed, particularly for the new generation who suffer a crisis of identity torn as they are between father's home and mother's country. Khalid Abu-Zaid did not agree about the shortcomings of immigration . In his perception,it is out and out beneficial: earning money, getting experience, making business both home and outside the country, learning foreign languages and cultures being some of its plus points. Enas Ahmad shares Khalid's views. She added that immigration is a unique privilege to enjoy oneself and benefit from the experience of others that can be useful in building one's country.

The very sound counter-arguments advanced were as valid as the opponents' views. One of the proponents was Zenah Dhaifallh, an ex-expatriate, who held the view that immigration is destructive as it poses uncountable problems for the immigrant and the family whether at home or aboard. Loss of one's heritage, belonging and values are but a few simple examples. Adjustments at home or aboard, after tasting another life, become a formidable problem by immigrants and their children. Zenah's ideas are echoed by Amal Al-Akhfash who viewed migration as an escape from reality. Showing her strong resentment of migration, she compared herself to a tree that blissfully lives and dies in its own home, bringing homely atmosphere and fruit to its surrounding. Ahmad Al Douis gave a real-life example of the devastation of migration by referring to the Yemeni immigrants who returned empty handed from Saudi Arabia in 1991 or the Yemenis who came before them from Vietnam and Ethiopia due to some changes in the political atmospheres in the respective countries. They returned to live in slum areas and their own country readily welcomed them. Had they been at home, things would have been much better for them and their families. Saleh Farag cited lines from Alzubaeiry to share some of his reflections on migration where the person is suspiciously looked down upon as an alien when he is outside or when he returns home. Immigration becomes a double-edged sword in that case. Omar Al Amri argued that charity begins at home. If someone is a failure at home he can never succeed outside. Home is the testing ground of an individual even though it is not without suffering and failures. Ball said and done,immigration is a losing battle for the individual and the community. Lamia Al Dobaee argued that countries cannot be built in the hands of others except their citizens. To stay at home is a sort of duty that is preferable to escaping to an unknown destination in quest of greener pastures. Raneem AL Saidi looked at the social problems that migration causes, such as divorce, desertion, and fatherless children, lost generation that knows no responsibility. Khulood Husein dwelt too on the staggering social problems that have no remedies. Immigrants return even with a different tongue that does not pertain to their native land.

Other competitors who took part in the debate were Hana'a Al Dainny, Mohammad Sharaf Abduall Naser, Asma Al Hammai, Afaf Al Salali, Abeer Al Awadi, Ammar Abu Fara'a , etc.

It was followed by a speech delivered by Ammar Al Qadi. The jury expressed their appreciative comments on the function and announced the results of the competition. The distribution of the merit certificates ended the event.

Such a cultural event helps students to use and practice their language, share ideas, interact with different opinions, search for truth and knowledge, and not be bogged down by uninformed the personal opinion galore. It is a vital step towards broadening student's mental horizon and critical thinking that is based on application and evaluation of information.

The Experience of Muslims in Britain

The 4th level students (Department of English, Women's College) of the University of Science & Technology (UST) organized a discussion on The Experience of Muslims in Britain and New Trends in Higher Education on 27th of December 2004.

The chief guests were Dr Hameed Al Asali, and Mrs Tracy AL Asali and Prof Dawaood Al Hudabi, Rector of UST. Students, faculty members, students of all levels from UST, Sana'a University and Saba University attended the session.

Dr Hameed Al Asali, and Mrs Tracy AL Asali talked about The Experience of Muslims in Britain. Dr Hameed Al Asali highlighted the position of the Muslim community in Britain for he lived there since his childhood. He was of the opinion that Muslims in Britain are better than in other places in Europe. He spoke about the Yemenis who settled there. Some according to him are as they came to UK. They refuse to partake in the country's overall cultural make-up. They are unable to integrate into the host society. His opinion was that Muslims in Britain should ideally integrate themselves into the mainstream while maintaining their own identity. He stressed the view that British Muslims are patriotic, partaking of the country's socio-cultural fabric as well as maintaining their own identities since the host country allows different minorities to practice their own belief. However, unfortunately, some of the Yemeni immigrants there do not avail themselves of the technological, academic or economic chances that are open to them. He also spoke about upholding faith in a surrounding that is secular to a great extent: schooling, society, and other institutions. As a child it was a startling experience for him to be told that man is originated from monkeys (Evolution theory). He was enlightened to learn about the creation and the origin of mankind according to Islam. This enables him to regain his identity and overcome the identity crisis that many suffer from.

Mrs Tracy AL Asali recounted her experience of Islam and how she became a Muslim. Being the daughter of a Christian family, she had her own conceptions about religion. Christianity, according to her, fell short of answering many of her queries. She came to know about Islam through some of the Muslims there. After a thorough and critical comparative evaluation she embraced Islam. She also got married to a Muslim for many years now. She elucidated how Muslims can practice Islam in Britain and how they can give a better understating of Islam through their collective, endeavour. She was particularly impressed by the cooperation and fellow feeling of Muslims.

An illuminating talk captioned New Trends in Higher Education was presented by Prof Dawaood Al Hudabi. He focused on how education should enable graduates to communicate efficiently with their counterparts in other countries. He raised a point why not start a degree in one country and be able to complete the same degree in another country? He called for some kind of education that can be global, not necessary limited to one place or nation. He blamed the orthodoxy of inculcating values that separates more than unites. He expressed his views about the new trends in higher education and the role of the university that is in constant change to meet the need of the market ,whether locally or internationally. To churn out idle people who are misfits is not cost effective in business or academic language. Undergraduates should undergo a period of training to fulfill societal or market needs. If exposed to rigorous, professional training, they can fit anywhere in the world.

The guests responded to a host of queries that highlighted major issues related to both the topics. The event was a substantial step for a better integration between people of different cultures.