STEPS (St Andrews Education for Palestinian Students) was established in January 2011 as an independent charitable foundation to provide maintenance and travel expenses for Palestinian students studying at the University of St Andrews It was awarded charitable status in August 2011. (Charity number: SCO42518) read more
STEPS invite you to an evening of Palestinian culture at the Undercroft (65 South Street, Medieval History Department), on Thursday 21 April, from 7.30 to 9.30pm. The free event will feature delicious Palestinian food, live music and poetry.
This will also be a chance to meet our 2015-16 STEPS scholars. Come early to get a seat!
STEPS is pleased to announce that applications for two scholarships are open for the coming year (2016-17).
Those wishing to apply should first have an offer to study on a taught Masters programme at St Andrews. Full details on eligibility are available on the University website.
The deadline for applications is April 21 2016. Good luck.
STEPS will be showing the Australian documentary Stone Cold Justice on Wednesday at 7.30pm at the St Andrews Town Hall. The film examines the arrests and imprisonment of Palestinian children by the Israeli army, from both sides.
Edinburgh-based filmmaker Jon Pullman, who has also worked on this subject, will introduce the film. There will be a Q&A after the showing.
The screening is free. We hope you can make it.
The STEPS trustees are saddened to hear of the death of poet Tessa Ransford. Tessa and Iyad Hayatleh read from their book A Rug of a Thousand Colours in 2013 at a STEPS fundraiser, for which we are very grateful.
This has been a good year for us in STEPS, in which we have been able to consolidate the work that has gone before.
We were delighted that our second student graduated with a Masters Degree from the International Relations Department in November 2014.
At the time of the AGM last year we were pleased to report that we had raised enough money to support two students and on that basis we awarded two scholarships. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter conflict broke out in Gaza and neither of our students was able to take up their place and arrangements were made for these to be deferred. However, ultimately, neither of these students is coming to St Andrews University.
This year we awarded our scholarships earlier and we are pleased to report that two students have been awarded and accepted scholarships for the academic year 2015-16. One, from Gaza, will be doing and MSc in Sustainable Development and the other, from Ramallah, an M. Litt. in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Over the course of the year we met with senior University staff to establish the STEPS scholarship on a more secure basis. As a result I am delighted to report that we are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding, whereby the University will agree to meet the tuition part of the STEPS scholarship for the next 5 years with a review after 3 years. This will provide us with stability and will mean that we can plan ahead without having to negotiate this on an annual basis.
Throughout the year we have continued to raise funds and awareness of STEPS wherever possible. We have been involved in 3 events. Firstly we were invited to speak at a poetry reading based on a book of Palestinian poetry called ‘A Bird is not a Stone’. We had an exhibition stand at this event and distributed some of our newly published promotional leaflets. In November 2014 we hosted an evening for the film ‘Where Should the Birds Fly?’. This was well attended and was followed by an interesting panel discussion. Finally, in March 2015 we were invited to host an event at Stanza, an annual poetry festival held in St Andrews. Several guest poets read Palestinian poems chosen by STEPS trustees and a University student.
Early in the academic year we met with the President of the Students Association to ask advice about how to engage more with the student community. At his suggestion we contacted the Interfaith Steering Group with whom we now have a very positive working relationship.
We were also approached early in the year by a third year student who works with the Community Relations branch of the Students’ Representative Council and was very keen to help promote STEPS in the student community. This has resulted in the formation of a new group of students currently called the ‘Palestine Humanitarian Awareness Project’. We look forward to continuing a working relationship with both these groups.
To engage students more regularly STEPS now has a Facebook page.
In the Spring we were delighted to meet with the new student rector, Catherine Stihler, MEP, to raise awareness of STEPS.
So as we come to the end of the current academic year STEPS is on solid ground. Following last year’s fundraising drive we are more financially secure in the immediate future. However, in the long term we still need to increase our level of monthly donations to be sustainable.
I would like to thank my fellow trustees and our many donors and supporters.
STEPS is holding its AGM on May 26 at 7.30pm in The Quaker Meeting House, 2 Howard Place, St Andrews.
STEPS has a half hour slot at StAnza (Scotland's International Poetry Festival) on Saturday 7 March at 7pm in the Byre Studio Theatre. See this page for more details. And it is free!
If you do the Facebook, then please do like our page.
A write-up of the event is here.
The STEPS autumn newsletter, posted and emailed to supporters, is now available here.
STEPS had a stall at the recent Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival's presentation of contemporary poetry from Palestine, which organised in conjunction with StAnza.
End of Year Report
In November 2013 we were delighted when our first student graduated with an M.Lit in Peace and Conflict Studies from the Department of International Relations. In September 2013 we were also able to welcome our second student who is also studying for a Masters Degree in International Relations.
Co-operation with the University is vital to STEPS' ability to award scholarships to qualified students and we have worked more closely with the University this year. We particularly acknowledge the help of the St Andrews University Registry and have much appreciated their administrative help in setting up the application process for this scholarship.
Our aim has always been to be able to support the two academic places offered by the University, which are decided on an annual basis, so our emphasis over this year has been on fund-raising to make this possible. We are delighted to be able to report that we have succeeded in this aim by applying to grant-giving bodies and individual donors alike. We also have a number of individuals who donate by monthly direct debit. Our focus over the coming year is to build on this through outreach both in the local community and the University so that STEPS can become sustainable in the long term.
We staffed a stall at the University Students Charitable and Volunteers Fair at the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year and plan to concentrate more on involvement of the student community in the 2014-15 academic year. In November 2013 we held a poetry reading event where Tessa Ransford and Iyad Hayatleh read from their book Rug of a Thousand Colours, a collection of Arabic poetry, based on the Five Pillars of Islam, exploring through poetry the meanings and common values these have for two people from different cultural backgrounds.
In December 2013 an exhibition was held at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of STEPS and we are hopeful that there may be some funding forthcoming from this.
Our current student has co-written articles for us which have been published in The Scottish Friend, which is a Quaker magazine, and Life and Work which is a Church of Scotland publication. She has also been interviewed for the University Magazine The Saint.
This year has been a time for consolidating STEPS and we plan to build on what we feel is a firm foundation.
Film maker Jon Pullman has made a film about Rami, our first scholar, and the STEPS scholarship.
See more of Jon Pullman's work on his web site.
At a fundraising event for STEPS
during November 2013 at St Andrews, Tessa Ransford and Iyad
Hayatleh each read from their book
STEPS trustees were at the recent Charities Fayre held in the Student Union. We talked to a lot of interested students, gave out plenty of fliers and collected email addresses. Also present were 2012/13 scholar, Rami, and 2013/14 scholar, Saba!