Some family and friends have inquired about why I have not posted anything for well over a month. The answer my friends in blown’ in the wind to cite Bob Dylan, one of my favorite songwriters.
In May I finished my classes at the University of South Carolina in Sumter, traveled to California for three glorious weeks to visit my dear friends in Berkeley, Dr. Tom Stern and his lovely wife, Yolanda. The two of them have been engaged in nation building for decades in the Philippines. As part of that ongoing initiative, I received an invitation to participate at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution where Tom hosted an impressive roster of internationalists discussing subjects as far reaching as Laos and the challenges reflected in China’s escalating sphere of influence on the Mekong River, to India and Pakistan relations and more.
As some readers know, I experienced a heart event a few years that resulted in a triple bypass. Now with a clean bill of health, I have also decided to jump back into the the international theater. This fall I will participate in the rebuilding of Iraq since I have accepted a Lectureship at the American University in Iraq. I depart on August 26 for this new life
After meeting in Washington, DC with Dr. Athanasios Moulakis, President at AUIS, I was immediately ready to sign up as one of the newly recruited western educators to aid in the rebuilding process of a broken nation.
Moulakis has gone on record in a recent interview in Rudaw about the role of the university in capacity building. ” We can present another model of education, a model that is more modern and can be an example where teachers and students are brought closer to each other, an example that does not treat students like pockets that you just put things into. In fact, they should be treated like humans and should be supported to experience the world.”
The modern university is located in Sulaimaniya in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. There I will join other academics and students engaged in a new conversation about globalization, literature, and journalism. According to the Dean of Students, Darcy Wudel, I will be teaching courses in English Composition, Creative Nonfiction and Journalism. While I am contemplating what kind of students will be seated in my classroom, I can not help but to think about the region’s tragic history, its great aspirations and the region’s increasing wealth from oil and gas reserves. The Kurdistan region of Iraq is located in northern Iraq, bordering Syria, Turkey and Iran. Although autonomous since 1991, it was not until 2004 that Kurdistan’s status was officially recognized by the Transitional Authority in Baghdad and reaffirmed in the Iraqi Constitution in October 2005.
Dr. Moulakis persuasively writes in the Huffington Post. ” Yet much more recently Iraq achieved a high degree of literacy and developed some of the finest universities in the Middle East. Unlike Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, Iraq has ingrained traditions of learning, including the professional academic preparation of women. Iraqi education suffered, of course, from the effects of a tyrannical regime, but even more from the sanctions against that regime. Like poisoning the wells of a besieged city, sanctions are not selective in whom they punish, and the leaders it aims to castigate are those who suffer least. Worse was to come. Whatever can be said for the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, it devastated Iraqi higher education along with all of its state institutions and their infrastructure. In the disorder and sectarian violence that followed, more than 450 academics were assassinated. Many fled.”
Of course, I am looking forward to this new journey and this blog will continue to present new stories.
Please send me yours.