The project review meeting was held from 10th to 16th of December 2017 at the Chair Muslim Cultural and Religious History, University of Erfurt, Germany.
Over the course of five days, participants discussed the progress of the project and critically reviewed and analysed the performance of contributors/workshops in Erfurt as well as in Pakistan. The participants included the heads of joining madrasas, student representatives and the project’s resource persons in Pakistan.
The invited guests from Pakistan agreed that their engagement with the project has been a very enriching and helpful experience for the students from their madrasas to boost their confidence.
Madrasa students have shown a visible increase in their curiosity about subjects such as history, social sciences and human rights, which have been the major themes for the workshops.
The students also made great improvement in terms of organizational skills, confidence, visibility and appearance.
The project alumni in Pakistan are taking initiatives to organize discussion forums every month by addressing various academic issues which are usually not debated at madrasas.
The students upon their return from the workshops in Erfurt also share the research methods and knowledge acquired with their fellow students in madrasa through the follow-up workshops that they organize themselves in Pakistan.
Interaction of madrasa students with Erfurt University students is helping in breaking the stereotypical images portrayed in the popular media.
Erfurt University has provided a platform for the educational institutions of East and West to interact and form new networks of knowledge and communication.
Research and dialogue projects are helpful in recognizing the factors which may hamper the development of intra-religious harmony and a pluralistic attitude amongst students.
The project review meeting has been helpful in bringing together the expertise of all the stakeholders. The project team agreed and accepted a number of valuable suggestions made by the guests based on the experience of two years of intense interaction while attending and organizing the series of workshops in Erfurt University as well as the follow-up workshops in Pakistan in their respective madrasas. Feedback sessions included presentations of invited guests supplemented with the comments from their students and administration. The Erfurtian project staff also shared its observations based on the internal and external evaluations of the workshops. Finally, the guests discussed future paths and possibilities of intra-religious dialogue in Pakistan, which has been a major focus of the project.
The five-day workshop was complemented by some guided tours such as visit of the Erfurt University’s library and the Research Library of Erfurt University in Gotha which has treasured the third largest collection of manuscripts in Germany. Other tours included a walk through Erfurt’s Christmas market and a guided tour of ‘Kleine Synagogue’ in Erfurt where participants were given information about the Jewish history of Erfurt.
The participants expressed their wish to strengthen this collaboration in future, and reinforce the bonds developed during this student exchange program.