The video above is the Arab Fest 2014’s first event, the Arab Art and Fashion Show, “event captured” in the VT University Libraries Multipurpose Room (MPR).
Arab Fest 2014: (2: Groundbreaking minority comedian Dean Obeidallah headlines Arab Fest Panel Discussion)
(Panelists pictured above are, from left to right, Dean Obeidallah, co-founder of the highly regarded New York Arab-American Comedy Festival; Steven Salaita, an English professor in the Virginia Tech English Department; Brian Bolton, Director of the Cranwell International Center and MC of the event; and Hannah Benninger and Nadine Sinno, Arabic Professors in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.)
Dean Obeidallah (دين عبيدالله), an American comedian of Palestinian-Italian descent, was one of four panelists “breaking Arab stereotypes” in the University Libraries Multipurpose Room (MPR).
Comedy accompanied scholarly discussion last Thursday evening in the MPR. While three faculty panelists manifested Virginia Tech’s expertise in Arab culture to a diverse audience of about 75 persons, Mr. Dean Obeidallah, an Arab-American comedian born in New Jersey, peppered the evening with jokes that artfully nailed down misconceptions. Dean, who appeared on Comedy Central’s critically acclaimed “Axis of Evil” special, demonstrated that laughter can facilitate truly effective learning.
The panel thoughtfully examined stereotypes concerning Arab women, provided insights into what it’s like being an American living in the Middle East and North Africa, and told stories about overcoming obstacles as a member of a minority group in the USA. The panelists encouraged Arab Americans to strive, in whatever professional capacity they can, to influence the national media’s depiction of them. Much like other minorities, there is a need to inform mainstream America about the valuable contributions and intellectual beauty of Arab cultures. Noha Elsherbiny, Egyptian engineering student and chair of the Arab Fest 2014 Committee, summarized the panelists’ viewpoints as follows:
- Dr Sinno talked about stereotypes of women in the Arab world. Women are sometimes viewed as victims of oppression for wearing the veil and those that leave their countries are thought of as people who have fled oppression. Dr Sinnott discussed the roots of the negative stereotypes and how to avoid them.
- Dr Benninger discussed her experiences in the Arab World. She refuted the common stereotype that it’s not safe, or that Arabs hate Americans or the stereotype that Arab men are predators. She described her positive experiences in Beirut, Cairo and Amman shedding light on some aspects of the Arab culture.
- Dr Salaita outlined the negative stereotypes of Arabs post 9/11 and the difficulties faced by some American Arabs. He described the different ethnicities of American Arabs, how they are unique yet similar and how Arab Americans view themselves as part of the American community while holding onto the pride of their heritage.
- Dean Obeidallah gave an entertaining view of Arab stereotypes in the media where he relayed some of his own experiences as a comedian and journalist living in New York. Dean expressed the importance of combating these stereotypes by having more Arab figures in the media.
(This YouTube is a 16 second video clip of some of our colleagues at the CPUT in South Africa. It will transport you instantly to the Southern Hemisphere! Take a moment to meet the people with whom we are forming a collaborative working relationship, folks that may now be considered new arrivals to our library. After all, they are appearing more and more regularly, sometimes bigger than life, on our large monitors using apps like Skype, so their electronic presence is already a fact. Consider the clip a long distance “handshake & hello” made especially for us. Also pictured above are the South African team members with views of the university and the city.)
Virginia Tech University Libraries announces strategic partnership with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Libraries.
International collaboration has long been one of VT University Libraries’ outreach initiatives, and Dr. Tyler Walters, Dean of the VT University Libraries, has sought out and sealed the partnership by signing, along with Dr. Elisha Chiware, Director of CPUT Libraries, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). He was assisted by Lesley Moyo, Head of Reference and Instructional Services, who is friends with Chiware and was instrumental in introducing the two deans at a conference.
Two teams are gearing up to collaboratively produce an international MOOC–from different sides of the globe.
During the MOU process, an exciting opportunity to produce meaningful instructional content coincidentally presented itself that would instantly pitch the two libraries together in a tight-scheduled project. An “open education” effort, the project is the first in an agreement for strategic collaboration between the South African institution’s academic library and our own.The job, inspired and facilitated by Stanford University’s Prof. John Willinsky during his visit to VT, is to design a MOOC module for Student Publishing Skills.
VT Deans’ Forum on Global Engagement
A second opportunity emerged in a call for presentations and posters at the VT Deans’ Forum on Global Engagement, also with a spring deadline, which subsequently resulted in a slot on a panel discussion event awarded to the library team.
Abstract: Student Publishing Skills: An Open, Global Learning Module
The VT team consists of Philip Young (contact person, firstname.lastname@example.org), Anita Walz, Jennifer Nardine, Scott Pennington, and Paul Hover. The University Libraries is contributing a learning module on student publishing to the international course “Open Knowledge,” organized by the Public Knowledge Project. The course, scheduled to begin in September 2014, will be taken for credit by students in Ghana, Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., and by anyone around the world with an internet connection as a non-credit MOOC.
VT University Libraries are hosting two ARAB FEST events in the new Multipurpose Room (MPR), showcasing Arab art, Arab library resources (including the newly acquired Muslim Bookshelf Collection), and a panel discussion about “Busting Arab Stereotypes” with an Arab comedian MC!
(Before reading on, try this link to the soundtrack Noha made as background music for the Arts and Fashion Show: [https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10655912/Arts and Fashion Show.mp3] . It will transport you to the Middle East and North Africa, guaranteed!)
A number of our University Libraries colleagues have assisted a coalition of VT Arab student clubs to promote the ARAB FEST 2014. Pictured above, left to right, are Noha ElSherbiny, VT engineering student and main student coordinator, in a planning session in the Multipurpose Room with members of the library’s Graphic Arts Team Kimberly Bassler, Somiah Lattimore, and Scott Fralin; Neal Henshaw can be seen testing the equipment in the background; students from Lebanon, Palestine, and our own library co-worker Amber discuss Arab Fest 2014 preparations in the International Outreach Initiatives Office; Noha is introduced to Brian Bolton, Director of Cranwell International Center (CIC), who immediately offers to partner with the University Libraries to help with the events; and Paul Hover, Faculty Advisor, Arab Fest 2014, during an Egyptian Conversation Club gathering. Mainstays Monena Hall and Scott Fralin are organizing the library promotional and educational displays before and during the fest, and more: Scott is running the lights on the “runway” for the men and women models of Arabic fashion, and Monena is practicing her pronunciation of Arabic because she is the MC for the event!
The events are sponsored by Cranwell International Center, Egypt Friends, Cedars of Lebanon,The Moroccan Club, Middle Eastern Student Association, Friends of Palestine, Saudi Student Club, United Arab Emirates Club, and University Libraries.
In addition to the two library events, three more evenings complete a whole week of cultural experiences, culminating in an Arab Fest Dance Night on Friday.
The following is a news release with more information on all five events: Read more…
Below is an email from Heather Moorefield-Lang, Education and Applied Social Sciences Librarian at Virginia Tech, reporting her experience in Panamá, where she was invited to teach, followed by the three-day schedule.
Overview of Teaching Experience in Panama
Location: Universidad Catolica Santa Maria la Antigua
Dates: Saturday, October 19th until Friday October 25, 2013
I arrived in Panama on Friday evening October 18th. During the weekend of October 19th and 20th my contact for USMA (Universidad Catolica Santa Maria la Antigua) Romina took me around Panama to show me the sites. I was able to see such places as the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, Le Valle: A town inside a once erupted volcano, and a few other areas.
Once the week started I began my work with the university. USMA is the oldest university in Panama at the age of 50. They are looking to create an environment of research which is why I was invited in the first place. Romina and I had met when she was a visitor at Virginia Tech a few years ago and we had stayed in touch. When they were looking for someone to put together a research workshop, she thought of me. It was very flattering.
The first day of the week involved seeing the USMA campus, meeting the directors of the departments, testing out all of my technology on campus and making sure that all of the online tools that I would be sharing could be used in Panama. Overall everything worked.
Moving into Tuesday we started the three day workshop. I had created a workshop that would combine resources available on their campus through their library as well as open access resources for further research. I also shared a wide selection of research organization tools, presentation tools, and a cadre of other online technologies when asked. (I have also attached the workshop schedule to this email [added below].) Read more…
It’s logical that Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, home of Virginia Tech, can be considered a “foreign destination” to our international students and faculty, at least until they make it their home.
This is the story, loosely translated from the Dutch, of an international scholar who visited our library. A teacher at a high-level gymnasium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Erna Trossèl had an interesting “American” adventure in our university town. Nestled as we are on the edge of the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she was pleasantly surprised at the numbers of birds in the trees and enchanted to see a small herd of whitetail deer grazing in our back yard. But she wasn’t prepared for a black bear!
“The only news around here is we had a BIG BLACK BEAR in sister Tecla’s yard.”
It was I who spotted the black bear. About 9:00pm we heard a crash outside, which was the big blue plastic trash-bag container smashing over, and I rushed to the big picture-window in the front and was shocked to see the unmistakable hulking figure of a bear ripping through the trash-bags that had spilled from the container! The bear had sunk his nose greedily into the bag with the shrimp tails left over from dinner, it appeared later. Paul grabbed one of those big, black, heavy, long-handled flashlights with 4 large batteries inside and headed for the door. I stopped him at the stairs, expressing my belief that even such a huge American-style flashlight would not deter a bear…
“I know, thanks Erna,” he said, “but don’t worry, I have a dog…” Read more…
Three VT University Librarians attended the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) 2013: Lesley Moyo, Jennifer Nardine, and Paul Hover.
Jennifer writes the following about her two co-presentations with Lesley:
In August 2013, Jennifer Nardine and Lesley Moyo attended the International Federation of Library Associations Conference in Singapore. They presented two papers at the conference, and had the opportunity to attend many interesting sessions by international colleagues. IFLA was rich with networking possibilities, and both Jennifer and Lesley came away with new collaborative possibilities. They also had the opportunity to explore Singapore’s richly diverse cultures – Chinese, British, Malay, Indian – on a variety of tours and in between conference sessions.
And here are the IFLA website citations with links to the presentations:
NARDINE, Jennifer and MOYO, Lesley (2013) Learning community as a model for cultivating teaching proficiencies among library instructors – a case study. Paper presented at: IFLA World Library and Information Congress, 17 – 23 August 2013, Singapore.
MOYO, Lesley and NARDINE, Jennifer (2013) A living network supports reference on-the-go. Paper presented at: IFLA World Library and Information Congress, 17 – 23 August 2013, Singapore.
(Pictured sitting at the train station from right to left: Jaime Mac Nabb, Matt Weinberger, Julianne Dutzer, Jonathan Barrett, and Garrett Hart. Paul’s hat can be seen hanging on the carry-on handle.)
Grabbing a last hamburger in Shanghai Station before bullet-training to the interior.
The University Libraries partnered with the VT Language and Culture Institute and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to establish and run a Virginia Tech Education Abroad program that brought students to the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, for six weeks of intensive Mandarin Chinese study and internships. Librarian Paul Hover, Assistant Director for International Outreach Initiatives, was Faculty Guide for the Summer II course, titled Virginia Tech in China (VTIC), in the summer of 2012.
Interviews with students of Virginia Tech in China 2012
Three radio interviews, two in English and one in Chinese, were recorded during the final week of the VTIC course. The students tell in their own words what they experienced and learned. The MP3 files are being hosted at the VT University Libraries’ institutional repository VTechWorks and can be heard here: URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10919/18993 Date: 2012-08 .
Here is a link to the “Historypin” photographic odyssey of VTIC 2012, retracing the ground we covered in China in pictures and maps: www.historypin.com/channels/view/35464/#!photos/list/ .
This is an abstract of the MP3 files and a description of the VOICE OF ANHUI, CHINA: Read more…
I sent the following email to my education abroad students, who were studying for exams in Hefei, to pump them up for the following week’s excursion to the great city of Beijing.
From: Hover, Paul
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 1:56 AM
To: (Students of Virginia Tech in China Summer II Course 2012)
Subject: Preparing our Beijing Excursion: a few notes I entered into my smartphone along the way
Our little hotel is in the most interesting neighborhood I have yet seen in China. It’s extremely hard for taxis to find but I now have a card with a map. The Hutong courtyard neighborhoods are large, historically unchanged compounds of many alleys and narrow passages, crowded with folks hanging out and going about their business. The alleys are a bit narrow and winding here and there, but well-kept, and the low, simple buildings and shops authentically reflect how Beijing was and still is organized. Shopping, restaurants, you can find it all in the Hutong. Immediately adjacent (a 4 minute walk) is a bustling, renovated neighborhood shopping area with lots of small arts & crafts shops (no hustlers except the rickshaw dudes), trendy restaurants and bars, and just an incredibly lively and friendly atmosphere. I met a Spanish lady who speaks Chinese like a Mandarin, hailing a taxi and then flinging a few choice phrases at it as the driver drove on without her. I opened the conversation with her by asking her to repeat the choicest of her fluent harangue. Don’t ask me to teach you that, you’ll have to find your own Spaniard.
In harm’s way
I was caught in a huge rainstorm and completely soaked Friday night after dinner. It was so bad, my umbrella was a joke! I was just at the moment of deluge crossing in the middle of a giant big-city roundabout and traffic was blindly coming at me… fortunately a police car stopped and helped me get across. Imagine that in seconds I went from dry to wading almost up to my knees. So far there have been 77 deaths in Beijing attributed to the recent rains and subsequent flooding, but that was last week, and I wasn’t expecting it still to be happening. Things happen so fast–that’s traveling.
TianNaMen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall
Saturday morning our tour takes us to TianNaMen Square, the astounding Forbidden City, and the Great Wall. Read more…