August 18, 2016 - Sulaimani (KRG), Iraq: Around 100 students from the Academic Preparatory Program (APP) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) hosted an event to clean up areas surrounding Lake Dukan in Sulaimani today. They were joined in their efforts by staff and faculty members, as well as AUIS President, Bruce Walker Ferguson. The event was part of the APP Service Learning Program for the students to encourage learning outside of the classroom, as well as to develop the young students' critical thinking and communications skills. "AUIS is teaching our students that learning goes beyond classroom. We want to encourage our students to engage in the community in order to change their environment for the better. I truly believe that our students are the key to a better Kurdistan," said Rachel Gresk, APP director, who also joined the students at the cleanup. This year, the students decided on two service learning goals: helping refugees and those displaced by conflict in Iraq, and protecting the environment. Over the course of the last semester, the students have been fundraising and developing close partnerships with local NGOs for their initiatives. The lake cleanup is the latest initiative by the environment protection group, who are partnering with Waterkeepers Iraq (NGO) to find meaningful ways to raise awareness about protecting the environment in Sulaimani and surrounding areas. The students used a crowdfunding campaign to raise $1000 for the cleanup. The volunteers spent the afternoon clearing trash and litter left by tourists and picnickers on the lakeshore. "We took part in this project because we want to save our environment and our nature. This is our responsibility," said Ismail Jamal, APP student and president of the AUIS Environment Keepers club. "We regularly hold such activities to raise awareness about environmental issues and to educate people about the consequences of polluting clean water and green spaces," said Mr. Nabil Musa from Waterkeepers Iraq, who accompanied the students at the cleanup. "We encourage students to participate in these activties to protect nature. We are very happy to partner with AUIS on this project and are really proud of what these students have accomplished." Another group of APP students has also raised funds to supplement the irrigation of public parks and newly-planted trees in Sulaimani, in consultation with the Sulaimani Garden Directorate, to find the best ways to preserve green space in the city. To that end, they have raised over a million dinars thus far to pay for water tankers, and are planning to host a small event on August 27, 2016, to join in the watering of a park. About the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani Established in 2007 as a not-for-profit institution, AUIS is dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education for the benefit of young men and women from Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, and the wider region. The University seeks to produce graduates of responsible character with the necessary knowledge and skills for professional and national leadership. The academic program, taught in the English language by international faculty, is designed to develop strength in critical thinking, the ability to communicate well, a strong work ethic, good citizenship and personal integrity. The growing student body at AUIS represents the region’s diverse ethnic and religious landscape as the University continues to the be the destination of choice of more than 1,600 students. Reflecting Sulaimani’s location at an international crossroads, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, Ezidis and Christians, live and study together in an open culture fostering diversity and tolerance. Academic freedom is a principle guaranteed in teaching, learning, and research in a manner identical to that found at regionally accredited colleges and universities in the United States. Follow AUIS on Twitter @auis_news and Facebook @auisofficial for latest information and news. For media enquiries or interview requests, please contact Bzhar Ali Boskani, media and public relations manager, at [email protected] or 964(0)770-4615-385.
service learning program
At the beginning of this term, a group of more than a hundred students from the beginners Academic Preparatory Program (APP) took part in a community service project for the displaced persons of Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan. This pilot project aimed to incorporate community work and critical thinking within the English language course for the APP students. The donations drive was led primarily by students, but with support from their teachers. The students collected cash donations as well as items like clothing, food, and toys, after determining the needs of the refugees. Through different charity activities, they were able to raise approximately five thousand dollars in addition to clothing and other things. The students were then tasked with identifying reputable NGOs to help distribute the aid transparently. The students voted for the local NGO, International Slemani of Atlantis (ISA), who collaborated with Kurdistan Save the Children, to distribute the aid collected by AUIS. Image: APP students get ready to distribute donations for refugees APP instructor and project supervisor Chris Guajardo was very happy and encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by his students for the project, “ This was the first time I personally have implemented a service learning project like this as a teacher, and I couldn't be more proud of how students led the way. They worked collaboratively in groups and as an entire level to create fundraisers, collect donations, and promote different events online. It was an incredible experience to facilitate as a teacher and I hope to continue and develop service learning projects in the future.” You can also see photos of AUIS students and ISA handing over the donations to Kurdistan Save the Children on their facebook page.