Welcome Ella Berry Campbell

25 July 2011 | 4 comments | Births & Birthdays | by

Dave and Pam Campbell of Dhahran are pleased to announce the arrival of a new member of the family!

Ella Berry CampbellElla Berry Campbell

Ella Berry Campbell was born on June 18, 2011. She is the daughter of Elisha and Angela Campbell.

Ella is the first grandchild of Dave and Pam Campbell, and the first niece for Catie, James, and Rosa.

Congratulations to all the Campbells!

Science to Blossom in New Partnership

25 July 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

AL-KHOBAR, July 19, 2011 — Business, industry, science – all are in a constant state of change, and among any country’s highest priorities must be how to prepare students in sciences now for jobs in the future.

Saudi Aramco has teamed up with Sultan ibn Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center (Scitech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a project aimed at developing a large, free repository of video modules for high school math and science classes, created by gifted teachers from around the world.

It’s called BLOSSOMS, which stands for Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies, and it creates videos that engage students while teaching math and science and sharpening their critical-thinking skills.

At an inauguration ceremony on July 6 at Scitech, HR Development consultant Sheikha Althakafi called BLOSSOMS part of the company’s corporate citizenship strategy to develop young talents and provide them with the skills needed in a knowledge-based society. To that end, the company signed agreements with Scitech and MIT early this year to produce 20 scientific modules to be placed on MIT’s website at http://blossoms.mit.edu. So far, Saudi Aramco has conducted one workshop to train 200 male and female high school teachers on how to use the videos in their classrooms.

Because of the engaging way these videos are designed, they will serve as a tool to improve the performance of math and science high school teachers — and ultimately the students — with in-depth content and the latest learning and teaching methods.

“Back in September 2009, with the initiation by president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco supported the MIT/ BLOSSOMS program by translating eight high-quality videotaped math and science lessons into Arabic,” said Huda M. Al-Ghoson, acting executive director of Employee Relations and Training. “Now the 2011 agreement expands the collaboration and leverages the strengths of all partners to produce 20 interactive videos on math and science.”

Present at the ceremony were Saudi Aramco Public Affairs general manager Nasser A. Al-Nafisee, Al-Ghoson and Scitech director general Dr. Muhammad Al-Qarwan.

Al-Qarwan said the approach adopted by BLOSSOMS entailed several points, the most important of which were leadership’s attention to youth, enthusiasm, equity and equal opportunities.

BLOSSOMS founder Dr. Richard Larson said the project was based on inspiration kindling a passion for learning. Memorizing information, he said, is no use unless it is coupled with motivation, inspiration and enthusiasm for learning.

In Phase One of the project, 200 male and female teachers from different parts of the Kingdom completed BLOSSOMS’s one-week course, with workshops and lectures led by the MIT team: Larson, project manager Elizabeth Murray and Dr. Sawsan Zahara — in collaboration with BLOSSOMS director at Scitech Faten Shaheed.

Lecturers and trainers from Saudi Aramco and other educational entities, such as Dr. Khaled Al-Yahya, Dr. Fahad Al-Jelwai, Dr. Khalid Al-Marashda and Sami Musalli, volunteered to present engaging training packages to students. Larson said that achievement relied on the number of interactive science videos that have been prepared, as well as on the instructors who would take the courses.

He said work was under way for Phase Two, in which another 200 teachers will be trained. Fifteen videos will likely be finished by that time, he said.

BLOSSOMS aims to present abstract concepts of math and science that stimulate higher levels of thinking — critical, creative and innovative thinking — as well as increase students’ drive toward self-learning, enhance teachers’ performance and increase students’ interest in science.

“The main motive of this project,” Shaheed said, “is to create an interactive video library that presents math and science concepts for high school students in an exciting way that is available for everyone free of charge.”

Five videos have been produced so far: “Selfish Drivers” by Dr. Jawad Bohlail, “Connection Without Intersections,” by Dr. Mohammad Busbaih, “Car Race” by Dr. Khalil Zaic, “Correspondence Speed and Data Packages” by Hanan Al-Arfaj and “The Magic Image” by Abdullah Al-Siddiq.

At the end of the ceremony, Saudi Aramco and Scitech honored, the Ministry of Education, Larson, Murray, all trainers, directors, video producers and others who contributed to the success of the project.

Vela Reaches Out to Community with Blood Drive

22 July 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

DUBAI, July 18, 2011 — Vela International Marine Limited got into the spirit of corporate social responsibility by organizing a blood drive June 28 in Dubai.

The 13-member Vela Activities Group committee worked with the UAE Ministry of Health and the management of the City Tower 2 office building to stage the event, in which a mobile clinic gave people the opportunity to conveniently donate blood during the work day.

“It was my first time to donate blood. I have always wanted to do so but never knew where to start. So when the committee scheduled this campaign I immediately said yes,” said Vela senior statistical assistant Rosalie H. Sampedro. “It was a great experience and worth all the blood taken from me. I will do this again and again.”

More than 100 people took part in the event, which national Blood Bank officials called one of its most successful drives to date.

Vela Activities Group members took care of all the promotional and logistical details of the event, which was the first of what will become quarterly community-outreach activities.

When you work hard and see great results, it makes it all the more worthwhile,” said senior planning and programs analyst Faisal A. Faqeeh, who serves as committee chairman.

AOC Magazine for Students in U.K., Europe

21 July 2011 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

LONDON, July 18, 2011 — Aramco Overseas Co. (AOC) celebrated the advent of its newest publication, Diwan, recently with managing director Nabil K. Al-Dabal cutting the magazine-shaped cake at the London office.

The student magazine is aimed at Saudi Aramco-sponsored students in the United Kingdom and Europe, and two of the student contributors were present to help celebrate.

“It has exceeded my expectations,” said Aqeel Al-Naser, a Manchester University student undertaking an advanced degree in computer science. “It truly targets the young generation through its exciting content and design, and that is how it differentiates itself. Now all we need is an iPad version!” he added with a laugh.

Meanwhile, geophysics student Marwa Al-Khalaf was impressed with the layout and content of the magazine: “What I like most is the presentation of the material, which makes it fun to read.

“The fact that it was written by students to students made the magazine’s vibe more lively and enjoyable,” she added, taking several copies with her to distribute at Leicester University.

The magazine, created by AOC Public Relations, secured an interview with Saudi Aramco president and CEO, Khalid A. Al-Falih. It also featured profiles on students in the company’s degree program and highlighting the Research and Development Center, elements that will continue in subsequent issues.

Also featured are outreach events that students have participated in, information on keeping safe at all times and a photography competition that encourages students to show their individuality.

“Diwan will be a key means of communicating with our company-sponsored students, and I look forward to reading many more stories on student achievements and experiences,” said Al-Dabal. He added that the magazine’s move to a digital platform beginning with the next issue was an exciting one and sure to engage the students even further. “We appreciate that we live in a technological age and, as such, need to be able to connect with our readers in a manner they appreciate and prefer.”

Diwan will be issued twice a year, with a print version available. The online version will provide added features and functionality not available in traditional print form.

Faraway Sailing Adventure Continues

21 July 2011 | 2 comments | Travel & Leisure | by Sheryl Wright

Land Ahoy! Sheryl Wright (ex-Aramcon) and Ian Bland finally reached land on July 9, 2011 after 19 days and 11 hours of sailing the 3,030 nautical miles from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. The journey across the South Pacific has been the longest and loneliest crossing of our adventure by far as we inch our way closer to Australia.

Sheryl and Ian at Hiva Oa, MarquesasIan and Sheryl at Marquesas

Since the last article was published in May, we successfully crossed through the Panama Canal on our yacht Faraway from the Caribbean Sea into the Pacific Ocean.

The Panama Canal crossing was our first big milestone of our sailing adventure. We enjoyed the two-day experience although, there were tense moments when we rafted up against larger boats in the chambers of the lock system. All eyes and hands were on deck to make sure that the lines were secure and that no damage was done to our yacht or other boats.

The journey across the Gatun Lake on Faraway to the last lock before reaching the Pacific Ocean was picturesque and very memorable with huge cargo ships traversing the lake between scattered islands of lush green jungle.

From the Gulf of Panama, we sailed to uninhabited islands and scuba dived in the marine park off Coiba Island with dozens of Frogfish. We then sailed to the rugged and remote Cocos Island off the coast of Cost Rica. After a rest and some more diving, we continued down to the mysterious islands of the Galapagos to have close encounters with the unusual creatures that inhabit those islands.

‘Faraway’ Anchored in Chatham Bay, Cocos Island‘Faraway’ Anchored in Chatham Bay, Cocos Island

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. The crossing from Cocos Island to the Galapagos took us twice as long as planned as we entered an area known as “the doldrums” with the winds and currents against us turning a 430 nautical mile trip into a 790 nautical mile nightmare. We also had a near miss with a fishing trawler in bad weather at night, and endured severe lighting and thunderstorms with associated heavy rain squalls which dampened our spirits.

When we finally reached the Galapagos Islands, all our efforts were rewarded. The islands were incredible, geographically and naturally, with a variety of unusually friendly creatures that overwhelmed us and made my camera work overtime.

Sea LionsSea Lions on ‘Faraway’ Transom

We had some time on land and explored the Sierra Negro volcanic crater on Isabella Island, went snorkelling with penguins and sea lions, avoided stepping on marine iguanas that sunbaked on almost every coastal rock, and sat amongst land tortoises that were over 100 years old. We also discovered that sea lions found the transom of Faraway a suitable place to overnight and eat their fish catch of the day.

When we leave the Marquesas Islands next week, we plan to sail to the Tuamotu Islands, then the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and New Caledonia before the final leg down to Australia. We will have a busy schedule to reach Australia by October before the cyclone season starts. The good news is that we have already passed the halfway point of our journey.

Please enjoy more photos in an Aramco ExPats Gallery: Sailing Across the Pacific Ocean.