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21 November 2013

Exploring Cultures, Gaining Life Experience

Ali al Sharif, a third-year student at Bethlehem University in the Shucri Ibrahim Dabdoub Faculty of Business Administration, is currently spending a semester as an exchange student at Handong Global University in South Korea.

Ali, who comes from Hebron, in the southern part of Palestine, is majoring in Accounting with a minor in Business Administration.

He believes the cultural differences between Korea and Palestine is huge, but enriching. "I am enriched by our reciprocate differences," Ali said. "The culture in Korea is very different than our culture in Palestine, and that is what is making my experience here an exciting and rich one."

Coming from Bethlehem University, a co-educational, Catholic university with a mixture of Christians and Muslims students, Ali, as other Bethlehem University students, acclimated easily to the mixture of different people at Handong. His involvement with the Bethlehem University Student Ambassador Program also helped him understand much of the cultural differences, as Student Ambassadors have the opportunity to interact with thousands of foreign visitors to Bethlehem University every year.

Although his studies brought Ali to Korea, he is enjoying his time by learning more about life in the country and, as he put it, "getting much more than academic education."  "I'm being exposed to many diverse experiences and knowledge, which is enhancing my life perspectives and will have a significant impact on my future," Ali said.

During his time in Korea, Ali has not spared a moment to explain to the students the situation in Palestine, a story that is often not accurately portrayed in the media. He has also explained the economic problems and political instability in Palestine, which he sees as impediments to the success of many students. "I say that because all the political, economic problems that are going on In Palestine are distracting us and keep us back from leading effective lives," Ali said.

Ali expressed admiration for the way students at Handong Global University are engaged with their university and in their studies, and they are very much focused on their education and their future. Ali encourages Bethlehem University students and other Palestinian students to "focus more on studies and on building a better future, which in turn will have a positive impact on the future of Palestine."

This exchange program with Handong Global University is currently in its third year. So far, two students from Bethlehem University and six students from Handong have participated in the program.

Photos by: Mercy Burklin

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Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine