Working to improve mutual understanding between the Middle East and the West


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2021 Fellowship Retreat

The 2021 Two-Site Retreat

With the plan to be in Cairo for the 2021 retreat postponed to 2022 due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the Fellows instead gathered in two locations, the British Council Building (Cairo) and Cumberland Lodge (Windsor), for three days in early September. A number of Fellows also joined via video link from the United States, Ghana and the UK.

In total 24 Fellows participated. As in previous years, the Fellows enjoyed being able to meet friends from past retreats in person. They engaged in extended dialogues in settings outside the formal retreat programme, and their willingness to maintain contact with each other after the retreat was reaffirned.

From 2022, each Fellow will be present at two retreats, one to be held in Egypt and the other in the UK, Europe or North America. The Fellows then join their predecessors as active members of the Fellowship’s alumni network.

Retreat Facilitators

The theme of this year’s retreat was ‘Publishing’.  The facilitators at Cumberland Lodge were Dr Joshua Ralston of the University of Edinburgh and Dr Barbara Schwepcke of Gingko.  The facilitator at the Cairo location was Dr Wafya Hamouda of the American University in Cairo. Dr Ralston and Dr Wafya both led sessions on the publishing process, with Dr Ralston focusing on the UK academic publishing process and Dr Wafya focusing on trends in Islamic Studies publishing. The keynote speakers for the conference were Professor Klaus von Stosch of the University of Bonn and Professor Muna Tatari of the University of Paderborn. Together they presented and then lead a discussion on their new book, Mary in the Qur’an.


‘It was such a great opportunity.  I’ve learned a lot.  I’m forever grateful for this experience and I’m thankful for the huge efforts exerted in organising the retreat.  Hopefully, next time I’ll get to meet the UK-based fellows face to face.’
-Hoda El-Saeed, Student of Sharia and Law, Al-Azhar University

‘My experience was highly positive, and I am amazed and thankful that we were able to meet at all, after the previous two years of disruption.’
-Steven Firmin, DPhil candidate, University of Oxford

‘I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed and learned from the retreat participants, either from Egypt or the UK; They were splendid people to be around; they also have a lot of knowledge and awareness of the Sharia, philosophy, history of religions, and many other subjects that enhanced my approach towards a deeper understanding of this aspect of my studies.’
-Asmaa Mahmoud, LLB student, Al-Azhar University

‘I am always excited at the Gingko Fellowship Retreats because it provides critical knowledge, experience and networks which one cannot get from the normal classroom or school seminar and yet are very useful for both postgraduate studies and career in academia. This particular retreat did not disappoint either. Even if there was little room for networking due to the online participation, the education and experiential aspects of the retreat were very valuable to me as a student of comparative theology and interfaith engagement.’
-Emmanuel Kwame Tettey, PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh

‘I have been in contact with Ginkgo Fellows for two years online, but the in-person meeting was amazing.’
-Ahmed Ragab Abdelhay, PhD candidate, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

The Gingko Fellowship retreat offered the invaluable opportunity to connect with like-minded people. The chance to articulate my own research aims to others increased my confidence as a scholar, and it was fascinating to learn about what others were researching. The keynote address provided much food for thought about the benefits of collaboration. I am privileged to belong to this community.
-Lauren Morry, PhD candidate, University of Oxford