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Dundee–Nablus

Twinning Association

رابطة توأمة نابلس دندي

DNTA - Convener's Report 2012

Presented at the DNTA AGM on 19th June 2012

Fraser Patrick, our Convenor, presents his report for our AGM on our activities of the past year and our plans for the future.

Twinning was born in the aftermath of the Second World War, over 50 years ago. At that time, the political and cultural context demanded strategies that were about fostering friendship, mutual understanding and commerce between cities in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Twinning was seen as one way and a sound basis for building European cooperation and solidarity. The DNTA's constitution affirms these original intentions and over the past year our work has focussed on awareness raising on a number of fronts.

In April 2010 the DNTA delegation to Nablus visited two schools which showed an interest in twinning with schools in Dundee. For different reasons, links with these schools were not achieved, but during that period very constructive contact has been developed with Craigie High School.

This year a new strategy has been created by Nick Marra, and the Committee has agreed to pursue this approach when he visits Nablus this October. Meanwhile Nick has met with Dundee's Director of Education, and has addressed meetings of both Primary and Secondary Headteachers, along with the representatives of the other twinning associations. During the past year Craigie High School has hosted visits from two visiting Nabulsi students; has been visited by a group of musicians from An Najah University in Nablus; and most recently has been entertained by a group of Dakba dancers from the West Bank. This coming year, therefore, promises to see stronger links being forged between young people in schools in our twin cities.

Just over a year ago we began our film project. The plan was to make a film of the history of the Dundee-Nablus twinning. Sadly for us, the student film maker who was helping us, Aurelien Godin, had to move to Glasgow to continue his studies. We have, however, been able to secure the services of Joanna Helfer and she, with a colleague, have taken on the leadership of this piece of work and will join our October delegation to Nablus. The film is now going to have a sharper focus on young people in both cities and their different(and similar) perspectives on life. The film will also be edited with a view to it being able to be used as an educational resource with youth and adult groups and schools.

We had hoped this year we would extend our contact with adult groups by offering presentations to Rotary Clubs, Church Guilds etc. This strategy has not had a good response - a zero response in fact - so we will wait the completion of our film and put together what we hope will be a more interesting and inviting package.

We have also been working on a new promotional leaflet which will be launched during the summer. In part this will be used to introduce the DNTA's work to the newly elected City Councillors and Lord Provost Bob Duncan has already indicated his willingness to meet with us once the leaflet is ready.

Further awareness raising is being achieved through our website developments led by Mike Whitehead and the DNTA Newsletter edited by Alister Rutherford. The latter includes articles from our friends in Nablus, noteably Julia Droeber, an ex DNTA committee member who is married to a Nabulsi. Her articles give us a fascinating insight in to the customs and social life in Nablus. Awareness raising, like friendship, is a two way process.

Talking of which we continue to receive visitors from Nablus. This past year our visitors included Ahmad Jaroussi, the convener of the Nablus-Dundee Twinning Association and Councillor Rula Canaan. A student Shaden, also visited and she has now become the main contact for Jo Helfer in the making of the film. Last year and again earlier this month, a major Nabulsi businessman, Mr. Arafat visited us. This time he made contact with our Chamber of Commerce and we are hopeful that this will advance work in the arena of commerce which we have neglected over recent years.

And we can not leave the topic of contact without mentioning the delivering of the fire and rescue vehicle and equipment direct to Nablus by the Fire Brigade Union supported by Tayside Fire and Rescue Service. DNTA made a financial contribution to this venture but the idea, organisation and achievement are all down to the FBU, Jim Malone and his colleagues. This effort has made a huge contribution to awareness raising and friendship building.

The past year has been busy and often quite exhilarating and frustrating - a pretty normal year therefore - and one to build on.

I am left asking whether our work leads to questions being asked about our activities. Thankfully, yes. And are these questions sometimes about the concerns and aspirations of our friends in Nablus? Thankfully, yes. And are these questions often couched as political or economic questions? Inevitably, yes. And therefore is the DNTA a political organisation? Actually, no. We are not a campaigning organisation. We have our own focus and that is identified above.

As I noted at the beginning of this report, twinning was born out of a particular political and cultural context. Twinning exists within a changing and volatile political and cultural context. It is just that for the DNTA, our twin city, Nablus, lives within a particularly complex, sensitive and challenging context. Accepting that reality, we seek to promote friendship between all Dundonians and everyone who lives within that context.

We think that is important and worthwhile. Why not join us? Is that a political question?

Fraser Patrick. (Convener)

Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association. A.G.M.
Tuesday 19th June 2012 at 8:30pm
in the Queen's Hotel Dundee

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