Bethlehem Bible College Celebrates Graduation

PNN – Palestine News Network  04.06.11 – 12:11

Bethlehem – PNN – Bethlehem Bible College held a graduation ceremony to celebrate the students graduating from its biblical studies, tour guide and mass media programs Friday night.

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Graduates, dignitaries, family and friends attended the ceremony

It was the 24th biblical studies, 7th tour guide and 4th mass media class to graduate from the college, which was founded in 1979 by local Palestinians and enrolls around 135 students.

Monika Hazboun, who was graduating from the tour guide program, said she chose Bethlehem Bible College because the classes were taught in English.

Hazboun, originally from Germany, has lived in Bethlehem for most of her life. “I hope to get a license-general for the whole country and take tourists and groups … all over the country,” she said.

Key attendees to the ceremony included the Palestinian minister of tourism, the Palestinian ambassador to France, the governor of Hebron, the mayor of Beit Jala, the president of the Evangelical Council of Churches and representatives from the military and local churches.

Reverend Alex Awad, the college’s dean of students, spoke about “three pillars:” knowledge, virtue and faith, in the keynote speech.

Salim Munayir, the head of reconciliation organization Musalaha, received a professorship during the ceremony for his academic achievement and contributions to bringing Israelis and Palestinians together.

“He’s an authority when it comes to reconciliation, in the world,” said Munther Isaac, a biblical studies lecturer at the college.

The graduating students are extremely welcoming, said Janae, a worker with Mennonite Central Committee who is spending a year working with the Shepherd Society, the humanitarian aid ministry of the college.

The surrounding environment of the college is a big part of how classes are taught, said Janae. “Responding in terms of their Christian faith to what’s going on around them is a huge part of the curriculum,” she said.

Bethlehem Bible College is one block away from the separation wall and checkpoint 300.

Janae said some of the students will go on to graduate studies in the US. For those who stay, she said she hopes they can find work in the difficult West Bank job market.

“The hope is that they find meaningful ways to get plugged-in and do something they really feel excited about and passionate about, but for so many of them that’s going to be a huge challenge,” she said.

The Israeli occupation affects more than just what is taught at the college. One of the graduating students, said Janae, is an only child and the first college graduate in his family. He’s from Gaza, and his parents couldn’t attend the ceremony, she said.

“There’s so much joy today but, said Janae, I know so many of these kids have parents that they wish could be here today but for political reasons couldn’t, and that’s hard.”

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