Fakhoora's latest communication project is being led by university students from Qatar and Gaza. The project goals are to break down geographical and physical barriers by creating a Virtual Majlis, (Arabic word for sitting room) through state of the art teleconferencing, to connect university students worldwide determined to take action in defending education.
Since beginning in February, students have had over eight teleconference meetings with three universities; one in the United States, the University of Sheffield, and University of Nottingham in the UK. Meetings can last from one to two hours, depending upon student’s class schedules Understanding how the blockade is affecting the students from Gaza first hand, is important for university students in the UK and USA. Questions such as “How is the blockade affecting your hopes and dreams?” or “How does the blockade affect your education?”. Sometimes students ask questions such as “Where were you when the bombing started?”; such questions bring back painful memories of death and destruction.
Various tasks are required to ensure a smooth flow of these conversations; Bilingual students overcome language barriers during each Virtual Majlis through translation. The Qatar based students have a core team with defined structure and responsibilities to coordinate with all parties and ensure each Virtual Majlis is planned well in advance to meet the diverse interest of the students who attend. The Qatar based students have been expanding their Virtual Majlis by weaving a tapestry of social networking for their global “guest”. The core team has an official Tweeter for the VM, tweeting before, during and after each meeting. The core team will be keeping the Virtual Majlis transparent, by blogging, uploading pictures and soon the MV sessions will be uploaded on Fakhoora’sYouTube channel. By April, students from Gaza will be adding to the network tapestry with their own official Gaza Twitter Rep, blogger and media specialist.
Our first Virtual Majlis was a success, but the realities of life in Gaza were brought home due to a sudden blackout in Gaza during the session. Read more about our first Virtual Majlis here.
The second Virtual Majlis included discussions of travel and identity - and the difficulties of both. Life in Gaza is very different and firsthand accounts were a very powerful way of seeing life through someone else's eyes for our US-based participants. You can read a transcript here.
Some of our Virtual Majlis participants were asked to share their views about the Virtual Majlis in this short video - you can see what they think below: