ANN ARBOR — For the first time, students from Palestine Polytechnic University (PPU) were able to have the opportunity to be a part of the abroad Entrepreneurial Education Program taking place in Ann Arbor and Detroit.
Global Ties Detroit, in partnership with the University of Michigan (U of M) and the Arab American Women’s Business Council (AAWBC), recently welcomed a group of 40 students along with five of their professors from PPU to explore Metro Detroit’s extensive entrepreneurial ecosystem and take part in partnerships with institutions and academics.
The AAWBC is a nonprofit organization that has been addressing the needs of Arab American women professionals and business owners since 2007.
For its part, Global Ties Detroit works with the U.S. State Department, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and U.S embassies abroad. It serves as Detroit’s official host of U.S. government-sponsored visitors since 1972 and promotes mutual understanding and appreciation among cultures through citizen-based diplomacy.
The students arrived on August 31, and will be spending two weeks in Michigan, engaging in educational, professional and exploration activities. They’ll spend the first week in Ann Arbor and the second in Detroit.
“The main idea behind this experience is that they spend some time shadowing people within their own profession,” Nabelah Ghareeb, a former AAWBC president, said.
Shadowing experiences and mentorships within the Entrepreneurial Education Program include dynamic studies from the following fields: Accounting, applied physics, architectural engineering, civil engineering, construction management, computer science, information technology, electric power, engineering technology, industrial automation engineering and mechatronic engineering.
Along with mentorship and shadowing experiences, all the visitors will also experience a rich cultural program involving museums, NGO and start-up visits, sporting events, concerts, local festivals and home hospitality.
Significantly, PPU is officially recognized by the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and was awarded a grant by the American Consulate in Jerusalem to develop entrepreneurial educational and professional development tools for students. Offering a bachelor of science degree in several engineering programs since 1978, PPU is also one of the leading polytechnic universities in Palestine. Its primary mission is to emphasize quality vocational and technical engineering education. This is achieved by providing students with the practical knowledge to help them acquire hands-on experience directly related to their disciplines.
“We are so proud as an organization to know there are 40 Palestinian professionals (students) coming to the United States to learn more about their profession and to experience being here,” Ghareeb said.
Barbara Peitsch of Global Ties Detroit, who is also senior program advisor/consultant at U of M’s William Davidson Institute, told The AANews that Global Ties Detroit and the university administrators at PPU have been trying to host this group to participate in the exchange program since 2016. This year, the U.S. Consulate funded the program.
“We wanted the students to have short-term training sessions and visit the different departments at the university,” Peitsch said, affirming that U of M supports entrepreneurship and innovation. “Some engineers cannot find jobs and this would help the (PPU) students create their own jobs and experiences, their own jobs in the field of technology.”
Ghareeb expressed her excitement about the students being here despite the few difficulties they faced. She said they were supposed to come in early June, but faced many problems in getting visas and airline tickets and making travel arrangements.
Many of these students will soon complete their senior years. One young woman actually graduated in the spring, but had applied for the program months earlier.