As part of its ongoing commitment to developing Palestinian society, The National Bank (TNB) sponsored the second visit by Rhodes students from Oxford University to several cities in Palestine at the end of March, aiming to raise awareness of the situation in the country.
The 17 students were all Rhodes scholars; members of an international postgraduate award program which brings together and develops exceptional students in all fields of study. Notable Rhodes scholars include many political leaders and captains of industry, such as; former US president Bill Clinton and Pulitzer Prize winning author Sidhartha Mukherjee.
The delegation spent a week learning about the political, economic and social climate in Palestine and touring sites such as Jericho and the Dead Sea, hiking in the beautiful village of Battir and visiting the Walled Off hotel, the contemporary street artist Banksy’s art hotel in Bethlehem.
The National Bank’s vice chairman, Omar Masri speaking of the visit said:
"The Rhodes Scholarship Program is one of the most prestigious
international fellowships in the world. Historically, Rhodes scholars have
gone on to assume positions of senior leadership in key countries around the
“Raising the awareness and learning about Palestine among these future
leaders will contribute positively and constructively to the world
community, and that's what we aspire to achieve by sponsoring these visits."
During the visit, TNB hosted a dinner for the students where keynote speakers, Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour and Raja Shehadeh, a prominent Palestinian lawyer, writer and intellectual, spoke about the Palestinian economy and human rights in Palestine.
Speaking following the dinner Sam Bahour said:
"It was intellectually refreshing to engage with yet another delegation of
Rhodes scholars in Ramallah. The National Bank is setting a clear
example of how the private sector can contribute to educating key
constituencies on Palestine with their second sponsorship of a visiting
delegation of Rhodes scholars from Oxford University to Palestine.
“These efforts and encounters are the long-term investments that will bring
the world to see our reality for what it really is, and hopefully join us in
acting to change it."
For his part, Raja Shehadeh commented: "It was inspiring to meet the Rhodes Scholars to speak to them, help them understand the issues and hear their response and questions."
On Behalf of Rhodes scholars, Calvin Runnels one of the group leaders for the year 2019 said: “The 2019 Rhodes Eden Fellows could not be more grateful to The National Bank for making this incredible trip possible. Seeing the reality of the situation firsthand and getting to meet so many incredible and resilient Palestinians has invigorated our desire to advocate on behalf of Palestinians in each of our home contexts around the world--India, Canada, South Africa, the U.S., Australia, Jamaica and Pakistan--and, of course, back in Oxford.”
Other attendees at the dinner included Palestinian businessman Mr Munib Masri, Mr Omar Masri, vice chairman of TNB and TNB board directors Mrs Manal Zraiq and Dr Grace Khoury.