Indiana University Press and the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at IU Bloomington have announced a partnership that will allow the institute to expand its impact on global studies.
For more than half a century, the independent and non-profit Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies has contributed to our knowledge of the diverse lands, languages and cultures of Eurasia.
Through the partnership, IU Press will help the Sinor Research Institute more effectively reach the research and educational community through its extensive and growing list of publications. It will oversee rights sales and distribution for those publications.
“The goal of the partnership is to enhance the institute’s ability to reach international audiences as it embarks on restructuring its business plan and expanding its product line,” said Edward J. Lazzerini, director of the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies.
The collaboration comes at a time of increased scholarship about Inner Asia – the interior of the Eurasian landmass – which is a primary mission of the Sinor Research Institute.
“From its inception, the institute’s publications, with content such as manuals and textbooks for less commonly taught languages, historical descriptions and analyses of regional cultural production and translations of significant historical texts, have served the needs of a dedicated international audience of scholars and students,” Lazzerini said. “Today it remains one of the few global enterprises that will publish what the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies does, making our commitment more important than ever.”
The mission of the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies is to encourage and support scholarly research in all aspects of Inner Asian studies. It was established in 1967 as the Asian Studies Research Institute and renamed the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies 12 years later. In 2007, it was renamed in tribute to its original director, Denis Sinor, who was its director from 1967 to 1981.
In 1962, Sinor came to IU from Cambridge University to establish and chair the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies (now the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and part of the School of Global and International Studies). Sinor, who passed away in 2011, also founded and led the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at IU and was editor of the Journal of Asian History and a prolific scholar. He succeeded in getting the nation of Hungary to fund a chair at IU in Hungarian studies during the Cold War.
At its very essence, Sinor created of the concept of Central Eurasia as an area of study, as attested by his scholarly activity over more than 60 years. Four people have succeeded Sinor as directors of the institute. Lazzerini has led it since 2007.
“Denis Sinor was a singular man of letters with an immense scholarly production who was deeply attuned to language, words, their etymologies and their reflections of culture; hence his love of books, libraries, and publishing,” said Lazzerini, a colleague and close friend. “He was also an extraordinary academic entrepreneur, bold, forthright, demanding, and unafraid of superiors, whom he doubted he had. Charming but not imposing, he was remarkably successful throughout his long life.”
One of the institute’s central tasks is to maintain and develop scholarly and technical resources necessary for research in Inner Asian studies. To this end, the organization has built an invaluable collection of reference works, monographs and microfilms of print and manuscript materials. It also reaches the research and educational community through its extensive and growing list of publications.
“Indiana University Press is excited to be a partner with the Sinor Research Institute in the distribution and marketing of their publications. The addition of their books and papers to the IU Press list of publications will provide our scholars and students a comprehensive catalog of material for research and development in international studies,” said Dave Hulsey, associate director of Indiana University Press.
Lazzerini said this collaboration comes at an extremely opportune time, not just because of critical changes occurring within the publishing industry, but also because of challenges to traditional ways that scholarly writing is presented and distributed.
A shift toward on-demand printing will eliminate large, upfront costs associated with new publications and storage in a warehouse, and should lead to more efficient distribution and higher revenues for the institute. As a result of the partnership, two new imprints – “The Papers on Central Eurasia” and “Ad Fontes: Texts on Central Eurasian Societies and Cultures” – have been published.
“For a small operation, working with the experience, capabilities, and strengths of a well-established publisher possessing international connections and contacts will raise significantly our own ability to reach a widely dispersed audience well beyond anything in decades past,” Lazzerini said.
Since opening two years ago, Indiana University’s global gateway office in Beijing has actively supported Hoosier academic activities and partnerships across China and has met the needs of a rapidly expanding number of IU alumni there.
Indiana University is one of six universities that created a career fair for Chinese students and graduates seeking job opportunities with top firms in China. The China Gateway office was instrumental in organizing the event in downtown Shanghai on Saturday.
A similar event will take place this Saturday in Beijing at the China World Hotel.
About 65 companies participated in the Shanghai career fair at the China Financial Information Center, along with about 1,200 up-and-coming Chinese professionals. They included about 120 students who have been studying at IU across different majors and degree programs.
“It was also great to see that IU alumni staffed the desks of three companies there — Decathlon, JPMorgan and GE,” said Steven Yin, office manager for the IU China Gateway.
Before Saturday’s fair began, IU participated in a half-day conference on the topic of international career development for Chinese returning from overseas. It was attended by most of the companies and all the host universities. Yin said it was a great opportunity for IU to present to these leading Chinese employers, who included many familiar multinational companies, what its presence in the country can offer.
“They provided us valuable feedback on hiring Chinese students with overseas degrees and how our students can better prepare for the job market in China,” said Yin, who previously served as the deputy director of the EducationUSA China program at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Participants included familiar brands such as Apple, AMD, Bloomberg, BP, Cargill, Citrix, eBay, GE, PayPal, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as a number of top Chinese companies, such as HILTI and WuXi AppTec.
Yin was joined by Jing Han, a career coach at IU’s Kelley School of Business who works closely with the international student population. Before the Shanghai career fair, 14 recent graduates and students also visited GE China’s huge industrial park campus in Shanghai.
“We were given a very detailed introduction to GE’s operation in China and what career development opportunities students shall expect working for GE,” Yin said, adding that 2013 Kelley alumnus Yaonan Pan played a pivotal role in setting up the visit.
One of the students met with the top human resources manager during the visit.
“Yaonan also set up meetings for us with human resources in GE’s finance department and with campus relations, to discuss GE China’s future recruitment at IU. He plays a tremendous role in connecting GE China and IU, which demonstrates again the importance of maintaining strong overseas alumni relationships,” Han said.
“We also want to give a big ‘thank you’ to the Indiana University Chinese Student and Scholar Association and the Kelley Chinese Business Association. We really appreciate their continued support in promoting and coordinating the events on campus and in China,” Han added.
Glory Geng, a Kelley School of Business student who attended both the Shanghai career fair and GE visit, said those activities exposed him to the vast job market and diverse job opportunities targeting overseas returnees in China. He was once lost about his post-graduation plan, but interactions with employers and alumni have helped him better understand the advantages of beginning a career in China and confirmed his plans to go back after getting his business degree.
Ryan Liu, vice president of career development and alumni at the IU Chinese Student and Scholar Association and also a Kelley School student, said the career fairs will strengthen relationships between current students and international alumni and hopes these events can become routine for IU.
Ally Batten, IU director of international gateway offices, which also include those in India and Germany, also offered appreciation for all the hard work being done on behalf of IU students.
“Steven and Jing deserve much credit for coordinating and generating interest in this event. Our global gateway offices are a resource for the entire IU community — students, faculty and alumni — and this initiative really shows the benefit of having a presence on the ground in China. Without the gateway office, events like this would not be possible,” he said.
To register for the this weekend’s career fair in Beijing, follow this link hellocareer.cn/2016careerfair.
As part of his welcoming remarks to 55 Fulbright students visiting Indiana University this week, Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies, noted that they will be in the United States during an interesting time in history.
Not only will they be here to see a potentially historic presidential election, but like billions of people worldwide, they are seeing how political and economic uncertainty has become a global phenomenon.
Feinstein, who served as principal director of policy planning and U.S. ambassador to Poland at the Department of State, cited the recent Brexit vote in Great Britain and the failed coup in Turkey and its aftermath as current examples.
“There’s something in the air,” he told the students from 42 countries. “People are, in the broadest sense, coping with the pace of global change. It upsets the order that people are used to.
“We’re clearly in a period of global, tectonic change and the strange thing about it is that nobody really knows where things are going,” he added. “I don’t think we’re at a cataclysmic point in history. I’m optimistic about the future, but it is a period of great uncertainty and instability … and you’ll see from a front seat what that looks like from the U.S. perspective.”
The Center for the Study of Global Change, an SGIS unit that focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration, global scholarship, outreach and innovative approaches to international education, hosted the Fulbright Gateway Orientation Program. This is the second consecutive year it is being held at IU Bloomington.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international education exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in United States also provide direct and indirect support.
The current group of Fulbright students includes students from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. They include a Sri Lankan woman who will study public affairs, a Lebanese woman who will earn a law degree and a Costa Rican woman who will study language education.
Of the 55 Fulbright students attending the orientation, 38 are women.
The intent of the Fulbright orientation is to prepare the Fulbright students for what is expected of them in the program and introduce them to U.S. academic and societal culture. The orientation is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and it is administered and designed by the Institute of International Education.
Sessions this week include topics such as leadership, the Fulbright experience and cross-cultural understanding. Marjorie Hershey, a professor of political science, discussed the differences between the U.S. political system and democracies around the world.
Their experience isn’t all serious and limited to the IU Bloomington campus and academic interests. They enjoyed a barbecue picnic in Bloomington’s Bryan Park, where several became familiar with a popular collegiate activity involving beanbags, Cornhole. They will visit the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University. They will hike at Spring Mill State Park and see the Virgil “Gus” Grissom Memorial in nearby Mitchell, Ind.
“We are delighted to provide an array of programming that introduces the graduate students to higher education in the U.S., the Fulbright program, and the diversity of U.S. culture and Bloomington,” said Hilary Kahn, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change and assistant dean of international education and global initiatives at the IU School of Global and International Studies.
“The vast number of countries represented, literally from all over the world, will contribute to the social networking, the interdisciplinary and transnational exchange, and the overall orientation experience,” Kahn added.
While most of the Fulbright participants are heading to postings elsewhere, a few of them will staying in Bloomington based at IU.
Feinstein told the students, who are “now in the launching phase of very illustrious careers,” that being Fulbright scholars is “a great achievement.
“You should not be bashful,” he continued. “That is a title and an association that will continue with you your entire life, and we’re very fortunate to have you.”
Washington, New York and Bloomington rarely are included in the same sentence, let alone mentioned together in national reports about places that serve as “springboards” for peoples’ international careers.
But in a report released on Monday, LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network — announced that Bloomington is one of the top U.S. cities for launching the careers of LinkedIn’s American expatriates.
“We’ve looked at where they’re going, but what about where most American expats are from?” LinkedIn editors wrote. “We’ve uncovered which small, mid-size and large U.S. cities are their most prominent springboards. D.C. led the pack among the largest U.S. cities, while a dark horse emerged in the small city category: Bloomington, Ind.!”
Of course, Bloomington is home to Indiana University, which has been engaged with the world more than a century, dating back to its seventh president, David Starr Jordan. This engagement grew under Jordan’s successors, but under the university’s 11th president, Herman B Wells, IU became a truly international university.
In 2012, all of IU’s international academic programs were brought together into the new School of Global and International Studies. Last fall, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped the school inaugurate its new home on campus, giving a policy speech and spending time with faculty and students.
LinkedIn’s findings are based on an analysis of 25,000 members who have received a four-year degree in and had their first job in the United States and then went abroad for a long-term international experience after Jan. 1, 2010. Those going out of the country for an internship were not included in survey results.
For regional analyses, LinkedIn used total membership data to segment the places into small, mid-size and large cities.
Among largest cities, Washington, D.C. was No. 1, followed by New York, Austin, Boston and San Francisco. Bloomington was No. 1 among small cities, followed by Champaign-Urbana, Ill. (home to fellow Big Ten institution, the University of Illinois); Santa Barbara, Calif.; Lawrence. Kan.; and Gainesville, Fla.
LinkedIn is has more than 433 million members in 200 countries and territories.
Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies, is among many across the Bloomington campus who aren’t surprised.
“It’s great to see LinkedIn’s database support what we know instinctively; that that Bloomington is a great springboard to an international career,” he said.
IU’s recognition in the LinkedIn survey also reflects activity in other schools across campus, including the Kelley School of Business, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Maurer School of Law and the Jacobs School of Music.
According to the Institute of International Education, IU ranks among the top U.S. universities in students studying abroad, to more than 250 destinations.
IU offers more language programs than any other public university in the United States, Students can choose from more than 70 languages, including Hindi, Japanese, Pashto, Russian and Zulu. It is home to more Language Flagship programs than any other university in the nation, offering immersive experiences in Arabic, Chinese and Turkish.
IU Bloomington is home to seven U.S. Department of Education Title VI Centers, including two National Language Resource Centers. These unique centers and programs offer students the opportunity to achieve a superior level of fluency in less common languages and world areas.
The same LinkedIn report indicated where most Americans are going abroad to continue their careers. London was first, followed by Sydney, Toronto, Paris, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo, Beijing, Melbourne and Amsterdam.
Teachers, translators and language instructors are the No. 1 occupation of Americans working oversees, LinkedIn editors said. Sales, marketing and public relations also ranked at the top of the list. (University professors also were listed, coming in at No. 10).
On a wet Independence Day at Indiana University, two groups of students interested in the intersection of business, language and international cultures hung out.
A group of 33 mostly American high school students and a group of 100 college students from the Middle East and North Africa played cards, Jenga and other games. They enjoyed all-American food such as hot dogs, fried chicken, mac and cheese, coleslaw and various sweet treats. There was music and dancing. They got to know each other better.
I heard about it when I recently sat down with participants from both programs – the Global Business Institute for the international students and Business Is Global for the American high school students, most from Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
We met over lunch at IU’s Kelley School of Business during a session where students from both programs were learning how people exchange information and “network.”
The July 4 party and networking may seem somewhat basic, but they highlight a powerful goal of both programs: They demonstrate the importance of learning about and understanding other people and cultures and looking for ways to work together.
‘Creating relationships’ and ‘learning new things’
LaVonn Schlegel, executive director of the Kelley School’s Institute for International Business, had simple instructions for us at lunch: meet three people and get their contact information.
“As you are just interested in learning about how to work in a new culture, a new climate, a new city or a new country, it is all about the networking — the people you know in this world — that helps smooth the pathway for what you want to accomplish,” Schlegel said. “Almost everybody you meet is going to be interested to know a little bit about you and who you are.
“We’re are all excited about creating relationships and about learning new things, and it’s all yours for the asking,” she added. “If you don’t ask, if you don’t reach out your hand, if you don’t reach out and ask them their name … what they want to accomplish in life, then you are missing out on an opportunity to be a bigger, bolder, braver version of yourself.”
My five new connections include people from Algeria, Pakistan, Jordan and Valparaiso, Ind.
“I was looking for something that would expose me to options,” Lily O’Connor, a high school senior from Valparaiso, Ind., said in explaining her decision to participate in Business Is Global. “I feel like a lot of high school students have somewhat of an idea of what they want to do already. I know what I want to do, but I don’t know yet what major it falls under. … The global aspects seemed like an extra bonus, which just makes it a lot more fun.”
One of other my lunch mates, Hamzah Al Mahameed, 22, is an engineering student and one of 15 participants from Jordan. He acknowledged that people in his country have a narrower view of the world. “In our country, it’s not like this,” he said, gesturing toward the room full of diverse students, IU and Kelley faculty and staff, and other campus visitors.
“Being here is such a great experience — getting to know all these people, these cultures, different cultures,” said pharmaceutical student Marsel Ammari, 20, another Jordanian. “It’s like getting out of your comfort zone. … Living with them can add to knowledge and experience.
“The people are so friendly here,” she said. “They are smiling all the time and so kind.”
The curriculum for Business Is Global includes introducing the pre-college students to less-commonly taught foreign languages spoken in emerging economies. Partners in the program include the Chinese and Turkish Flagship programs and the Swahili Language Division in IU’s School of Global and International Studies. The program is supported through a U.S. Department of Education grant to the IU Center for International Business, Education and Research.
Global Business Institute creates entrepreneurs
Participants in the Global Business Institute come from Algeria, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Created in partnership with the Coca-Cola Co. and the U.S. State Department, it provides a basic understanding of American business practices through an accelerated four-week curriculum based on core elements of Kelley’s undergraduate program.
The purpose of the program is to prepare students from a variety of racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds to develop and use entrepreneurial skills to address issues in their home countries.
On Thursday, they attended the eighth Innovation Showcase sponsored by the Indiana Venture Club and will visit several corporate settings. On Saturday, they participated in a Bloomington Habitat for Humanity build. On July 29, they will meet with Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent via teleconference.
Participants in the Global Business Institute program will leave Bloomington on July 30 and travel to Washington, D.C., where they will pitch business ideas at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and visit Capitol Hill and the State Department. They also will visit Atlanta and Coca-Cola’s world headquarters.
Since the program was created in 2012, new businesses have been created by Global Business Institute alumni in every participating country. Nearly 75 participants have started their own businesses and created more than 270 jobs. Nearly 70 of GBI alumni are involved in entrepreneurship clubs, start-ups and start-up competitions.
Al Mahameed is interested in setting up food trucks that will provide Syrian refugees with employment. “They are always taking money from our government in Jordan. This is so they can make money for themselves, their families and feed other refugees in the camps,” he said. “I believe that food is always sharing love.”
Another Global Business Institute student I ate with is learning all he can about e-commerce. “In my country, I hope that we use the Internet more in our lives,” said Abdelmounaim Berrichi, 20, a computer scientist from Algeria. “There is only one school where you can study computers in Algeria, in all of Algeria and 40 million people.”
For many of the Global Business Institute students, this is the first time they have been to the United States and spent much time around Americans. “It’s been quite a culture shock,” said Shahrukh Khan, 21, a business student and one of 14 participants from Pakistan. “It’s good to see a different kind of America than what we see in the media. … It’s a great country.”
Ammari, who hopes to develop new products that help the disabled, said she looks forward to returning home being “more open-minded, because you’ve widened your horizon and you’ve seen things you can’t back home.”
Over the last few weeks, we’ve introduced you to a group of enthusiastic young people from 18 African countries who are fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
The benefits of this program to these 25 visitors, participating in a program that is part of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, should be obvious. But how does it benefit Indiana University and the surrounding community?
Teshome Alemneh, IU associate vice president for international development, said the answer is quite simple: IU’s participation in the U.S. State Department project demonstrates the university’s commitment to global engagement, including promoting people-to-people relationships.
It also aligns with other priorities outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including celebrating a vibrant and collaborative community of scholars and global engagement.
“It has been a helpful experience for them, but it also has been a helpful experience for us,” Alemneh said. “It’s become a two-way street where we have learned and they have learned.”
Raising awareness and boosting understanding
The program has helped many at IU and elsewhere in Monroe County to develop a greater awareness about Africa and its people, and to better understand the level of development there — not just the poverty that often gets portrayed.
“At all the places that we’ve visited, there has been really intensive engagement and interaction,” Alemneh said. “In terms of development challenges, I think many people were able to understand that the challenges that we face here and the challenges that they face in Africa are more or less similar. The degree, the intensity and the way that we address them might be different.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders project is being coordinated by the IU Office of International Development, a unit within the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.
Downtown Bloomington Inc. and the Bloomington’s Main Street Program worked with IU to arrange for tours at businesses and organizations, interviews with local leaders and other activities to show how Hoosiers approach projects and issues.
“I was recently reminded of how special this area is while sharing our stories with people from around our region and across the globe. They come to Bloomington to learn, and we learn from them,” said Talisha Coppock, executive director of both organizations, in a column for the Herald-Times.
May lead to future partnerships
The interaction over the past four weeks may lead to future collaboration. Alemneh said several faculty members have exchanged contact information and interest areas where they can work together with the Mandela Fellows.
For example, the Kenyan students were eager to learn more about the IU Kelley School of Business student projects that provide consulting support in their country.
“It was a great opportunity to meet with professionals from a number of industries and sectors. We are already talking with a couple of folks from Kenya and South Africa about how the Institute for International Business might be able to assist with projects and opportunities around entrepreneurship, business skill training and capacity building,” said LaVonn Schlegel, executive director of the Kelley School-based institute.
“This was a lively and engaged group. They asked pointed questions and were looking for ways to apply the ideas that were being presented,” added Fred Schlegel, a senior lecturer of management and entrepreneurship in the Kelley School of Business. “As they continue to develop ideas and programs that benefit their communities, I hope we can find ways to continue engagement.”
The Mandela Washington Fellows also met with Jon Racek, a lecturer in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, who is the founder and executive director of Play360, an organization that helps build playgrounds in underdeveloped countries. Engagement between Play360, which also teaches people how to make and maintain playgrounds using locally available materials, is expected to continue.
This weekend, the fellows will leave Bloomington for a gathering in Chicago with other Mandela Washington Fellows from Purdue University, Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame, and then spend two weeks at IUPUI.
On July 31, they will depart Indiana for Washington, D.C., and a leadership summit that President Obama is expected to attend.
After the Mandela Washington Fellows return to their respective countries, it is hoped that they will maintain ties with IU and help to bridge new kinds of relationships with governments and donor organizations that will encourage institution building, Alemneh said.
“IU is becoming really visible now in a way that it wasn’t in many (African) countries before,” he said. “I think they are going to become champions for IU.”
“I think they are going to go back and talk about the good things that they see here in Indiana, in Bloomington and in Indianapolis.… It’s an opportunity for us.”
After all, they are Hoosiers now.
Whenever we run into friends around the Indiana University campus, the range of greetings usually is pretty narrow. Most of us will say “hello” or “hi,” followed by an inquiry about their health or well-being.
But with an international enrollment of more than 6,100 students, it’s not uncommon to hear greetings in other languages.
Around some Chinese students – who represent the largest group of international students at IU Bloomington – you might hear someone say, “nǐ hǎo.”
Among Indian students, the traditional greeting is “namaste.” According to one reference, it began as a way to show deep respect, and it is now used as a common greeting in India between strangers and friends of all age and status.
However, it’s not quite as simple a gesture to offer an introductory greeting or an expression of appreciation across Africa, as we learned when we asked a group of 25 young leaders from 18 sub-Saharan African nations visiting IU to offer thanks in their own languages.
IU’s Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses are hosting these bright young people, between the ages of 25 and 35, who are participating in an academic and leadership development institute. They are here through the U.S. State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
Unfortunately, many Americans see the African continent in a singular sense, not appreciating that it is one of the most diverse and multi-cultural places on the planet.
But you’ll appreciate that fact if you watch a simple video that was produced at a gathering of Mandela Washington Fellows with members of the community at a downtown Bloomington restaurant.
For example, in Zimbabwe, where Mandela Fellow and women’s rights advocate Karen Mukwasi is from, 28 local languages are spoken. In Cote d’Ivoire, where Mandela Fellow and social activist Landry Guehi is from, people speak 64 local languages.
Seventeen languages are commonly spoken in Ethiopia, where Mandela Fellow and pan-Africanist Zemdena Abebe is from.
In Tanzania, where Mandela Fellow Janet Manoni is from, the primary language is Swahili, but there also are about 120 tribes which contribute to many dialects being spoken.
In Cameroon, where Mandela Fellow Lilian Banmi is from, about 230 languages are spoken.
French is the official language of Guinea-Conakry, where Mandala Fellow and ChildFund International finance manager Therese Sagno lives, but more than 24 indigenous languages also are spoken there.
Mandela Fellows told us that it’s not uncommon for their parents to understand and speak different dialects or languages. Several shared different expressions of thanks – one from their mother’s tongue and another from their father’s language.
As in other places, English is a common means of communications for speakers of different first languages, which I also found to be evident as I’ve gotten to know many of the Mandela Washington Fellows.
These young people also are diverse in their professions and occupations. They include a school teacher, medical doctors and public health professionals, a scientist, business people, lawyers, activists, broadcasters and even a hip-hop artist who promotes positive social behavioral change.
Other nations represented by the Mandela Fellows include Angola, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland and Togo.
In case you’re interested in learning a new language, IU’s African Languages Program offers regularly scheduled courses in Akan/Twi, Bamana, Kiswahili, Wolof, Yoruba and Zulu during the academic year. Kiswahili is also taught as an intensive course during the summer sessions. Other languages may be available.
Arabic, which is commonly spoken in Sudan, the home of Shohdi Al Hag, another Mandela Fellow and the Sudanese Voices Association founder, is taught through the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department.
Please take a look at the video and meet some of our latest Indiana Hoosiers.
Post by IU Newsroom intern Amanda Marino
When Ph.D. candidate A’ame Joslin was growing up in rural Indiana, her family relied heavily on the government and members of their community to help them with financial troubles.
Despite their needs, Joslin said she and her sister were still actively involved in community service. She said her mother would bring them to nursing homes and ask which people didn’t have any visitors or family coming to see them.
Joslin and her sister would sing songs and play games with those people, serving in a way not limited by their financial situation. Spending time with the elderly cost the family nothing and was a great service to people otherwise left alone at the ends of their lives.
She was one of three Indiana University Ph.D. candidates who met with 25 Mandela Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders to discuss their personal experiences with civic engagement and community service in the United States.
This meeting was one of many stops the Mandela Washington Fellows have made so far during their six-week academic and leadership development institute at the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses.
The session on Tuesday focused on how people in the United States address community issues and what roles volunteers can play in serving the people around them.
To begin, the three doctoral candidates described their personal community service and volunteering experiences. From these anecdotes, the group would go on to pose questions about both the people and the program aspects of volunteering.
Kirk Harris, a Ph.D. candidate in political science, said his service began at a young age through his church in Seattle. He said messages about the importance of service and volunteering are typical in the United States.
“The messages I heard as a child are sort of embedded in American culture,” he said.
Joslin, a Ph.D. candidate for comparative education, said that thanks to her experience as a young person, she realized it didn’t take a lot to make a difference.
During her time in the Peace Corps, Joslin said she observed community interactions worldwide, searching for ideas she could bring home and implement.
For her, it was never about trying to make a global change. Instead, she was inspired to do small things in communities around the world.
Unlike his counterparts, Justin Wild, a Ph.D. candidate in comparative education, said his youth did not involve civic engagement. Because he never asked why he wasn’t doing something service-oriented, he never really understood its importance to the community.
Wild later wondered how to get a student like himself, caring but not inquisitive, involved in community service. To him, it isn’t a matter of capability as much as engagement with children.
“Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for,” he said.
By directing programs toward children and getting them involved from a young age, Wild believes a passion for service can be instilled early and made to grow throughout a person’s life.
As soon as the presentations were finished, hands shot up in the air, ready to pose questions to the three Ph.D. students and the group at large.
It was evident from the presentations and the questions that the needs of communities through the United States and Africa are not all that different. Basic human needs like food, water and shelter need to be provided. Opportunities to engage socially with other people and to become educated are vital to a healthy community.
Several Mandela Washington Fellows asked repeatedly if and how volunteers were paid and how people were kept involved and motivated.
Landry Guehi, a Mandela Washington Fellow who leads the Network of Associations for Voluntary Service in Cote d’Ivoire, said his civic engagement experience also began with his parish as a young person. His concerns revolved around whether young people were engaged in the community for a payment received and not because they were passionate about serving.
Harris said that might be the case, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even if a person gets involved with a program for the sake of a stipend, both the volunteer and the community will still benefit.
Sophie Ranaivoharisoa, a Fellow from Madagascar, shared similar concerns that people value money over volunteering. While she thought it might be something that people could overcome, Wild suggested the two could go hand in hand.
“Volunteering is definitely a gateway into employment,” he said.
Common themes running through the discussion were the importance of encouraging people to learn and be culturally aware because they will naturally become involved when a sense of community or shared identity is present. Once they are there, seeing their work make a difference in any way will keep them coming back to serve.
It should have been a night remembered for other reasons than becoming disabled.
A trained development economist, Zukiswa Nzo was out with friends celebrating a new job on Feb. 16, 2007, when suddenly someone yelled, “Ngicela amafone (give me your phones),” followed by a gunshot.
Instead of advancing in her career, Nzo – known by her friends as Zuki – found herself recovering from injuries suffered during a carjacking and beginning a new life as a paraplegic. Paralyzed from her hips down, she spent the next eight months recovering in a Johannesburg hospital.
“When I got out of there, my eyes opened up, in terms of the discrimination that persons with disabilities face in our society,” she said. “I was facing all of the barriers first hand … That’s when I decided to become a change agent.”
She began a blog, “My Journey as a Paraplegic,” while working at the South African Broadcasting Co., and became a columnist to give people a forum where they could ask questions. She has served on the South African Disability Development Trust board, and received disability equality training to help others become more aware. She’s an ambassador for the Wings for Life World Run, aimed at finding a cure for spinal cord injury.
Today, she is an entrepreneur and an advocate for disability inclusion. She also is one of 25 people from 18 countries who are at Indiana University participating in the Mandela Washington Leadership for Young African Leaders program.
On Thursday, she and other Mandela Washington Fellows spent a morning with faculty in the IU Maurer School of Law, learning about how the American legal system offers protections for people with disabilities and domestic violence victims as well as those who face discrimination due to the race and gender.
They heard from Kevin Brown, the Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law and founder of the Maurer School’s Summer in Southern Africa Program; Leslie E. Davis, assistant dean for international programs; Catherine Matthews, assistant dean of students; and Aaron Bonar, a J.D./Ph.D. candidate and a graduate fellow at the Center for Constitutional Democracy.
In his presentation, Brown highlighted the importance of the U.S. Constitution in governing through the rule of law, as compared to how law functions in other lands. He highlighted the fundamental importance of the 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection for all, not only at the federal level but also in all 50 states.
“It’s important to note that the concept of equality, that America holds dear, is a concept of individual self-determination. This is what really makes the United States unique among human societies,” said Brown, who has traveled to Africa more than 10 times. “It is a society that at its very core believes in the ability of the individual to develop him or herself in the way that they want to develop and then to pursue their own plans and purposes, consistent with the rights of others to do the same.”
He went on to explain that the U.S. concept of equality is based on individual freedom and liberty and not on tradition. Thus, it suggests the law should ignore individual characteristics that people can’t choose for themselves, such as race, ethnicity and gender, so it “transcends those characteristics.”
Brown was followed by Matthews, who described the challenges and limitations of U.S. law when it comes to protecting victims of domestic violence. The last two speakers, Bonar and Davis, addressed legal issues for people with disabilities.
Being disabled and impoverished go hand-in-hand across Africa. Bonar has studied the issue on the ground in Liberia, where a protracted civil war left many people maimed at the hands of combatants.
He cited statistics from Handicap International, which found that 16 percent of Liberia’s total population are disabled in some way. Within this population, 61 percent have mobility issues, 24 percent are visually impaired, 7 percent are deaf and 8 percent suffer from psycho/social illnesses.
Of that same 16 percent who are disabled, 99 percent live in extreme poverty. Among the rest of the total population, 48 percent live in poverty.
While Liberia signed and ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012, it did not ratify an accompanying protocol on how to implement the legislation, Bonar pointed out. Efforts to promote equal protections there have been “lackluster,” as has access to services, he said.
Several Mandela Washington Fellows acknowledged similar problems in their home countries. They were keenly interested in what Davis had to say about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
“The difference between the United States and South Africa is that we haven’t localized UN convention as much,” Nzo said. “We are still having a debate about whether it is necessary to have a separate disability act, or would we still be separating the disabled. Should we start making sure that disability is included in every single piece of legislation? Disabled people are everywhere … All these laws should be fully inclusive.
“But I’ve seen pluses in having legislation, based on what I’ve seen in Bloomington,” she added. “It’s what enabled (American) society to become more accessible.”
Ishiyaku Adamu, another Mandela Washington Fellow, who is national president of the Nigerian Association of the Blind, agreed.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act has provided immense opportunities for a person with disabilities here,” he said. “For the two weeks I have been here, there hasn’t been any building that I can’t enter. There is no public transportation that I haven’t found accessible. All the websites that I have been accessing, the materials have been accessible … This is something very great that ADA provides. We hope to see that in Nigeria.”
Adamu said his country does not have a single law that protects those with disabilities. On three different occasions – in 2003, 2010 and 2014 – laws to address the rights of the disabled were passed by Nigeria’s national assembly, but not signed into law by the president.
He said an effort is now underway among several organizations, including his group that represents 6.4 million Nigerians who are blind or partially sighted people, to resolve issues that prevent the bills from being signed.
Both Adamu and Nzo will be meeting with and hoping to learn from representatives of organizations that advocate for the rights of the disabled in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
“One thing that struck me so much when I came into the United States and Bloomington in particular was the accessibility of services to the disabled,” said Lillian Banmi, a medical doctor and gynecologist from Cameroon. “I felt like weeping. I was so touched and impressed that the disabled are recognized to be equal to those who are able … If there is one thing I will take back to my country, it’s (support for) the implementation of services that they put into the law (in my country) but have not been followed.”
“One of the things that really impresses me about this country is the accessibility of this country,” added Hombé Kafechina, programs manager at a nongovernmental organization in Togo that protects the rights of children. “The roads, the buildings and the buses are accessible for people who live with disabilities. This is not the same reality in our countries … There are some ideas here which are simple ideas that can be implemented in our countries.”
As a Bloomington City Council member, Isabel Piedmont-Smith is accustomed to meeting with constituents. While the farmer’s market was abuzz with activity Saturday, she spent time discussing concerns and issues facing those who reside in her district.
At times, Piedmont-Smith’s presentation in City Hall chambers on Monday — to 25 participants in the U.S. State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program — had the same vibe as the meeting she had just two days earlier.
They peppered her with questions about taxes and zoning and asked what the city was doing about the homeless and the environment.
Jose-Landry Guehi, a social activist who leads the Network of Associations for Voluntary Service in Cote d’Ivoire, wanted to know whether people are allowed to operate businesses out of their homes and learned about Bloomington zoning laws.
Zemdena Abebe, a writer and activist from Ethiopia, inquired whether real estate gentrification is much of an issue in Bloomington. In her response, Piedmont-Smith shared concerns about the impact that a new park being developed could have on affordable housing in that area.
The 14 women and 11 men from Sub-Saharan Africa are spending six weeks at IU Bloomington and IUPUI to study America’s model of civic leadership.
Half a world away, but similar issues
An ocean may divide the United States from the African continent and the 18 nations where the Mandela Washington Fellows are from, but people face common issues no matter where they live.
And Bloomington city officials readily acknowledged that they also encounter major challenges in finding solutions.
“I loved the questions,” said Bloomington City Clerk Nicole Bolden, who joined Piedmont-Smith at the presentation and gave the fellows a tour of city hall. “It’s hard, because we’re all trying to figure out the answers.”
Piedmont-Smith and Bolden gave an hour-and-a-half presentation about what it takes to manage and govern a city with a $72.3 million budget and 690 employees in 13 departments. She explained the role that the city’s 11 elected representatives play.
During their visit, the Mandela Washington Fellows toured the rest of City Hall, a renovated historic building that previously housed the world’s largest furniture factory. They met Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, who was first elected to the post in the fall after a career working for Hoosiers in both the state and nation’s capitals.
They also are gaining perspectives from faculty in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, including former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, who serves as a professor of practice at IU. On Thursday, they will discuss American legal thought with faculty in the Maurer School of Law’s Center for Constitutional Democracy.
Last week, they visited the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College to learn about workforce development.
A different perspective
The Mandela Washington Fellows are seeing what works and also some of our society’s greatest challenges to finding solutions. The students are here to study the U.S. model, but they also are seeing that it is imperfect, including when it comes to social issues.
For example, several Mandela Washington Fellows inquired how city government tackles social service issues, including hunger and suitable housing. One student asked whether the city provided meals to those less fortunate.
As part of her response, Bolden acknowledged the limitations that Bloomington has in addressing social issues. “I’m afraid it is bigger than the city,” she said.
In many of the African countries, nongovernment organizations play a large role in addressing social issues, and most of the fellows are involved with them.
“We come from 18 countries, and we all have different ways that we deal with issues,” said Juliana Owolabi, a public school teacher from Nigeria. “We listen to them and we try to compare what we have with our countries with what they have here … They learn from us and we learn from them.
“Bloomington is a beautiful city with beautiful people, who are always eager to help. They’re just wonderful,” she added.
For her sake, Bolden said the questions she received from the Mandela Washington Fellows made her think about the city in a new way.
“The questions are informative,” she said. “One woman said, ‘We approach issues from a holistic approach. We don’t just look at a child falling asleep at school, we look and see if there’s a problem with somebody not working or if there’s a problem at home. We look at the whole child and the whole family.’
“We don’t do that here, but to think about it in those terms is wonderful. How can we do that here?”