Technolab off to a good start
As part of the Aramco-Leiden partnership, LUCIS set up the first Humanities programme with Technolab. In the programme, which will end in February 2016, high-school students from schools in and around Leiden will explore the beauty and richness of the Arabic culture. Eleven students are participating in the programme.
During the first workshop, students explored the long-standing relationship of the Dutch with the Arabic and Muslim world. The afternoon started with a walking-tour through Leiden. Farieha Mirzada, who works at LUCIS, guided the students in the walking tour. She showed the students many markers of contact between both worlds in Leiden. The facade of Leiden's city hall is embellished with crescent moons for example, a careful reminder of the "Watergeuzen" (Sea Beggars) who wore the crescent moon on their clothes with the motto "Rather Turkish than Papist". The students also visited buildings of BRILL, the famous publisher of books on the Middle East and Islam. Moreover, the students were shown the Urdu poem in Arabic writing on the Burgsteeg in Leiden, which is part of the Muurgedichten project.
After the walking tour, the students were welcomed by Rachid Oucharia and Arshad Muradin of Islamic Centre Imam Malik. After an introduction about Islam and the creation and aims of the Islamic Centre, Rachid and Arshad showed the students the interior of the mosque, including the prayer room. Apart from the obvious use of the centre for prayer, the centre has multiple other purposes. Classes are organized for Muslims to get a better understanding of Islam and the Qur'an, but classes are also organized also organized for non-Muslims, for example about preventing radicalisation and courses on health care. Next to this, the centre also provides a broader social role, by organizing a dinner for newly arrived Syrian refugees for example. The guided tour gave the students a good overview of the history of the Islamic Centre, its purposes and aims, and Islam in general.
The Technolab programme will run until February. Three other workshops will be organized, focusing on the Arabic language, Islam in daily practice, and Islamic science. The students will then have to transfer the knowledge they acquired to younger students in their schools. The programme will end with a large closing ceremony, in which students of this programme and other Technolab programmes will gather and during which they will present the programmes and their acquired knowledge to interested parties.
We are grateful to Aramco, a world leader in integrated energy, for having sponsored this event.