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North Country CC gets visit from Al Kafaat University leader

SARANAC LAKE-Several New York state community colleges are joining forces with a school in Lebanon to start an associate's program for students there.

As part of the partnership, Al Kafaat University Director General Raif Shwayri made a visit to North Country Community College as part of a statewide tour March 17.

"We are visiting North Country, Onondaga, Nassau and Monroe Community Colleges," said Rosemary Ortlieb-Padgett, International Student Affairs officer with Nassau Community College. "We had gone to Al Kafaat and through that visit formed a partnership with them and have petitioned the state to help establish an associate's degree program in Lebanon, which is something they do not have."

"Everyone is engaged in the learning process and where we can partner together both with Al Kafaat and the other schools in the state that are part of this," Maureen Styles, Assistant Dean For Grants and Funded Programs at NCCC, said. "Sometimes, we can feel isolated and away from the other community colleges being where we are at, but this is giving us the chance to talk to people who are doing the same things throughout the state and give us new context to assess what we do and implement that into a more global workforce."

During a lunch meeting at NCCC, Shwayri credited the staff at the school for their efforts.

"The quality of the work that you are doing is fantastic," Shwayri said. "The students that I sat with this morning were very receptive and interested in what was going on.

He added that he liked that community college model of smaller class sizes and added that he felt college was about getting students prepared for a career.

"Graduates should not just come away with a piece of paper that says I did this and that," Shwayri said. "They should come away with a job. If we have to choose between the two, I choose the job. At Al Kafaat, we have a database of needs in our country and we will match the training of our students to the needs that we are facing." Shwayri said that there were times that he would remind members of his faculty that they needed to listen to their students.

"They have 10 ideas and while eight of them may be worthless, two of the are genius," he said. "When we started this, the teachers were telling the students to keep their ideas to themselves and I had to intervene."

Shwayri also said that he enjoyed his time in the Adirondacks, especially waking up early and seeing the sunrise in Lake Placid.

"It was stunning," he said.

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