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More than 1,250 school students celebrate the joy of reading at AUS Sharakah Program's Reading Festival
American University of Sharjah's (AUS) Sharakah Program recently hosted its second annual Reading Festival for high school students, with participation from 18 schools and more than 1,250 students eager to celebrate the joy of reading.
The festival offered a diverse range of engaging activities to promote a love for literature and enhance reading skills. Students attended mindful library activities, reader personality quizzes, comic creations, creative nonfiction storytelling, escape room sessions and a philosophy workshop. AUS student clubs hosted lively hands-on reading-based activities at their stands. Some participants dressed as their favorite literary characters and participated in a cosplay parade and competition.
With sustainability in mind, some students were able to exchange their books at the book swap station, which was hosted by Bookends.ae. Students were also invited to take home their choice of a free pre-loved book selected from a wide range of genres. A workshop on American Sign Language (ASL) helped students learn basic ASL conversations for improved communication and inclusivity. Similarly, students learned how to read without sight in a braille workshop offered by the Emirates Association of Visually Empaired.
Organized by the Sharakah Program of the Office of Enrollment Management, the festival also included participation of the Office of Student Affairs, AUS Library, the Department of English at the College of Arts and Sciences, Achievement Academy Bridge Program, and AUS student clubs and volunteers.
"The Sharakah Program's Reading Festival reflects our commitment to education and community engagement. We believe that nurturing a love for reading and learning is essential for the growth and development of our youth. This festival not only promotes literacy but also fosters creativity and a sense of community among our high school students," said Ali Shuhaimy, Executive Director of the Office of Enrollment Management at AUS.
Among the festival's standout activities, Asma M. Kherbash, an Emirati author and a parent of AUS physics student Maryam Ahmad Bin Ghannam, shared her insights into the world of literature in a special talk moderated by Christine Furno, Engagement and Outreach Librarian at AUS. Adding to the excitement, Kherbash distributed over 500 signed complimentary copies of her books Lesath and Shaula to students eager to read.
"The festival was truly an extraordinary experience. I had the pleasure of meeting many new people and enjoyed the various activities it offered. My main purpose in attending was to explore sign language and discover new books, and I must say, it has been a comprehensive and enjoyable experience. I found it highly entertaining and educational, and I recommend it to all students who seek to expand their horizons and embrace new knowledge,” said Maryam Abu Baker, a student from Westminster School in Dubai.
Ramin Anis, a student from the International School of Creative Science, attended the festival for the second time.
"I am here today to celebrate the universality of books, embracing the diversity they bring to the world. This event allows us to trade books, expand our knowledge and immerse ourselves in the world of American Sign Language. This festival is highly beneficial in promoting the exchange of knowledge, and I can confidently say that I'll be back again next year to take part in this enriching experience," said Anis.
The AUS Sharakah Program fosters partnerships with select schools in the UAE and the region to engage school students and teachers by offering a wide range of events, activities and programs as part of the university’s community engagement strategic initiative. For more information, visit www.aus.edu/sharakah.