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Twinning Association

رابطة توأمة نابلس دندي

DNTA - Convener's Report 2013

Presented at the DNTA AGM on 19th June 2013

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

The Association's work during 2012/13 has focussed on three main elements namely the production of a Dundee - Nablus film, the development of contact between schools in both cities, and the improvement of communications both within Dundee and between Dundee and Nablus. Given the small budget at our disposal it is remarkable that so much ground has been covered, including a five person delegation visit to Nablus last autumn.

The production of our film work is nearing completion. At the AGM we will be able to give details of a three part DVD which will include a 25 minute film of our twinning; a 10 minute film featuring Rami and Rafeeq, two students from Nablus who spent some months with us during 2010/11; and a film specially cut for showing in schools. The DVD will be on sale in the autumn. This has been a major undertaking and its successful completion is due largely to the work of Jo Helfer assisted by her friend Jessica Ramm, to whom huge thanks are due.

Our efforts to twin schools in Dundee with their counterparts in Nablus is now moving forward. Initially we encountered a number of difficulties which reminded us of the challenges associated with communication between different cultures. This past year, however, under the guidance of Nick Marra, contact has been made with the Nabulsi authorities and productive progress has also been made with our Education Department and the Director of Education, Michael Wood. Along with our colleagues in the other Twinning Associations, presentations have been made to the City's Headteachers with some encouraging follow through. The pace of progress has been slow but for over two years the support, interest and patience of the staff at Craigie High School has been remarkable. We are optimistic that in the coming year it will become the first school in Scotland to link with a twin partner in Nablus. Meanwhile the school has hosted musicians from An Najah University in Nablus; enjoyed a talk from Jim Malone of the Fire Brigade Union who drove a fire engine to Nablus last year, and most recently the school welcomed a visit from the Palestinian Ambassador.

As part of our awareness raising work the content of our quarterly Newsletter has become fuller and now regularly contains articles from friends and colleagues in Nablus. As part of the aforementioned delegation, Alister Rutherford, editor of the newsletter, was able to extend this network during his visit. It is hoped this will contribute significantly to our knowledge of the life and 'happenings' in our twin city. Alongside the newsletter we have also produced a new and colourful A4 publicity leaflet which outlines our work and introduces Nablus to a wider audience. It has been widely distributed to libraries, community centres, schools, universities and colleges as well as to Departments and councillors in the City Council.

We make every effort to visit Nablus each year. As mentioned above, last autumn an extended visit was organised in order to give time for our film makers to fullfil their shooting schedule. Not for the first time Mike Whitehead organised the trip which achieved its three objectives of contacting schools, strengthening communication and collecting film footage. During the visit our delegation met the new mayor of Nablus Ghassan Shaka'a whose uncle, Bassam Shaka'a, was the mayor of Nablus in 1980 and was a key contributor to the establishing of the original twinning of our two cities. The new mayor publically announced his intention to deepen links and strengthen ties with Dundee. Lord Provost Duncan has sent his congratulations to his counterpart.

Our Lord Provost was also gracious enough to open our annual anniversary event in November. We much appreciate his interest. This year we featured a Palestinian arts exhibition in the Central Library, a talk from the World Council of Churches Israel Palestine Accompaniement Programme, and a screening of the first cut of our film in the Steps Theatre. The programme was encouragingly well attended.

During the year we have also tidied up our website, reviewed and updated our constitution and taken part in elements of the Lord Provost's Youth Festival which was attended by Councillor Yahya Arafat from Nablus. We are also delighted that the Central Library has agreed to puchase a copy of a substantial new book "Nablus : City of Civilisations" written by Naseer Arafat a Nabulsi architect. I recommend you have a browse through it at the Wellgate.

Finally can I thank the Committee for all their contributions during the year. It has been one of the most active groups I have had the pleasure of working with. In particular I want to thank Mary Henderson who has served on the committee as secretary and more recently treasurer for a number of years and has now decided to retire from her office bearer's duties. Her commitment to Palestine, and Nablus in particular, has been outstanding as has been her willingness to take on all manner of tasks.

It has been a privilege to act as convener of the Association. My thanks to all our supporters and volunteers.

Fraser Patrick. June 2013.

Tom McLaughlin

As we prepared for the AGM we heard of the death of our longest serving committee member Tom McLaughlin. Tom had been involved in the establishing of the Twinning in the early days under controversial circumstances. He had visited Nablus and was a loyal and challenging member of the Association. There will be a tribute to Tom's contributions at the AGM.

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