Recent Activities

Some of my recent activities:

2012
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“De-mystifying the Middle East and its People – a frank discussion”

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A workshop took place at Virginia Tech featuring Barbara Petzen, Education Director for the Middle East Policy Council’s Teach Mideast program – an educational initiative of the Middle East Policy Council.

  • http://www.teachmideast.org/workshops
  • MEPC provides free, highly acclaimed, non-partisan workshops on the Middle East and Islam across the U.S. Their education director Barbara Petzen will come to your school, organization or conference with innovative strategies for teaching these complex topics. They tailor workshops to your specific needs. The demand for high-quality information and resources to enable educators to teach about the Middle East continues to grow. Since 1985, the Middle East Policy Council has offered free, non-partisan and highly-acclaimed workshops on how to teach about the Middle East, Arab culture and Islam. The program has spanned 45 states and over 200 cities across the United States. (http://www.mepc.org/teachmideast ; http://www.mepc.org/)

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Film and Discussion: “Nazrah: A Muslim Woman’s Perspective”

  • Moderated by Heba F. El-Shazli
  • 6:30 pm – 8:30 on Thursday, April 5th, 2012  pm in Graduate Learning Center (GLC) – Room F
  • About the film: “Nazrah: A Muslim Woman’s Perspectiveis an intimate look at a diverse group of Muslim women living in the Pacific Northwest in the USA. By creating a forum where Muslim women can freely engage in an open dialogue about complex issues, filmmaker Farah Nousheen exposes a vast and fascinating array of thoughts and ideas.The women discuss their views on Islam, current political events and how they reflect on the image of Islam in the West. They also talk about the difficulty of achieving equality within the Muslim community while fighting stereotypical portrayals of Muslim women in the US media. Nazrah(the Arabic word for “perspective”) also includes director Farah Nousheen’s own views on being a Muslim woman at a time when Islam is in the international spotlight.“Muslim women are often spoken about but rarely do they speak for themselves. Nazrah changes that. In giving Muslim women this important platform to express themselves, Farah Nousheen has deftly made room for the diversity that exists among Muslim women. Nazrah is required viewing that offers a vital antidote to the all-prevailing stereotypical portrayals of Muslim women.” –Arabic Women’s eNews
  • Official Selection, 2005 Other Worlds Are Breathing Film Festival
  • Winner – Best Film Producer, 2003 National Association of Muslim Women
  • Type: Documentary                        Director: Farah Nousheen
  • Year: 2003 Time: 55 minutes Produced by: Farah Nousheen Language: English

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Film and Discussion: “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think”

  • Moderated by Heba F. El-Shazli
  • 6:30pm – 8:30pm on Thursday, 15th March, 2012 in Graduate Learning Center (GLC) – Room F
  • About the film: “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, a new documentary film from Unity Productions Foundation, explores the expertly gathered opinions of Muslims around the globe as revealed in the world’s first major opinion poll, conducted by Gallup, the preeminent polling organization.  Gallup researchers began by asking the questions on every American’s mind. Why is there so much anti-Americanism in the Muslim world? Who are the extremists and how do Muslims feel about them? What do Muslims like and dislike about the West? What do Muslim women really want? Crucial policy decisions hang on these questions. They continue to generate passionate disagreements in the public square. Yet for all the heat and controversy, the actual views of the world’s Muslims have been conspicuously missing from this debate.  Now, we have the missing answers and statistics, gathered, parsed, and analyzed not by pundits but by professional researchers. As part of this groundbreaking six-year project, Gallup conducted tens of thousands of interviews with residents in 35 predominantly Muslim nations, as well as smaller populations in Europe and the USA. The broad extent of the polling has delivered findings for the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims with a plus or minus accuracy of 3% Focused on the issues of Gender Justice, Terrorism, and Democracy –the film presents this remarkable data deftly, showing how it challenges the popular notion that Muslims and the West are on a collision course. Like the research, the film highlights a shared relationship that is based on facts – not fear.” — www.upf.tv

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Panelist, Careers in International Affairs

  • Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 in TORG 1010
  • Sponsored by the VT International Relations Organization club
  • About the event: Interested in International Affairs, Development, or Relations? Want to make a career of it? Come learn about a variety of potential careers in international fields! Panel discussion followed by a question and answer period with: Mr. Christopher Hickey —- Peace Corps; Ms. Heba El-Shazli — Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and Non-Profit work; Ms. Larissa Mihalisko — Department of Defense and State Department; and Mr. Ken Stiles — CIA and Intelligence Community

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Panelist, discussion on the Arab Spring Movements

  • 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday, February 28t, 2012 in 140 Hahn Hall
  • Sponsored by The Americans for Informed Democracy Club at Virginia Tech
  • About the event: The purpose of this round table discussion on the Arab Spring movements is to bring students and professors together to discuss and learn about the movements and their broader significance. The Club organizers gave each of the panelists the opportunity to provide their opinions on the impact of the Arab Spring Movements as a whole, and then there were questions to guide the discussion. The organizers then opened up the discussion to questions from the students in attendance.  The panelists will be: Dr. Edward Weisband, Mr.  John Boyer, and Heba F. El-Shazli.

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2011
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Film and Discussion: We Are Egypt: Film and Discussion with the Lillie Paquette

  • Organized and moderated by Heba F. El-Shazli
  • 6pm-8:15pm on Thursday, 20th October 2011
  • About the film: This is the story of the struggle for democracy in Egypt that led to the historic uprising in January-February 2011.  Filmed on the ground in Egypt over a period of fourteen months prior to the uprising, this story is told through the eyes of Egypt’s youth activists, labor movements and political opposition figures. It is an account of their struggle against extraordinary odds to remove an uncompromising authoritarian regime determined to stay in power.
  • About the Director:  Lillie Paquette is a specialist in international affairs with an MA in Global Studies from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she focused on mass media, public opinion, and US foreign policy in the Middle East. Paquette has followed developments in Middle East-US relations since her first visit to Egypt in 2002 as part of a Fulbright funded “Dialogue of Civilizations” student exchange program. For several years, she worked on Middle East and North Africa programs at the Washington DC-based nonprofit, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), where she specialized in US State Department-funded media and civil society development programs. During 2010, Paquette worked in Cairo where she filmed “We are Egypt – Voices Leading to Revolution”. While she was in Egypt she also worked as a news reporter and producer for Reuters Video News where she processed global video news reports and video footage for worldwide clients and consumers. She is an alumna of Docs In Progress in Silver Spring, MD, where she studied documentary film production and appreciation.
  • Collegiate Times article:  http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/18600/director-screens-egypt-documentary-at-glc-auditorium

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“On the Israeli-Palestinian Question, What are the prospects for peace?”

  • Sponsored by the VT International Relations Organization Club
  • About the Event: Given the recent UN Bid by Palestine and other current events in the Middle Eastern region, it is important to understand causes and lasting effects of this issue and the recent history of peace-making Panel Questions and Discussion with: Dr. Daniel Breslau: Lived in Israel from 1993 to 2000 where he was on the faculty of Tel Aviv Unviersity, and was active in pro-peace political work. For nearly twenty years, he has worked with the movement of Israeli activists for Palestinian rights, an end to the occupation, and peace. He is an editor of the website Occupation Magazine (www.kibush.co.il), and has written over 100 on-line commentaries on the occupation. He has travelled in the occupied West Bank and participated in the weekly protests in the Palestinian Village of Bil’in and solidarity work with the Palestinians of Hebron. Dr. William L. Ochsenwald : Author of The Middle East: A History (7th edition; McGraw-Hill, 2011); taught the course “History of the Arab-Israeli Dispute” at Virginia Tech for 25 years; has interviewed on ABC and CBS Radio News, Voice of America, and Virginia public radio & television on many issues concerning the Middle East. Mrs. Heba El-Shazli : Was a visiting-professor at the Virginia Military Institute teaching International Relations of the Middle East and Egyptian-Arabic language. She was the Regional Program Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) programs at the Solidarity Center, a non-profit organization that assists workers around the world who are struggling to build democratic and independent trade unions, from September 2004 until June 2011 where she implemented programs with a staff based in Washington, DC and in five field offices in the MENA region (Morocco, Algeria, Pales-tine, Qatar and Lebanon).

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Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 at 7PM  McBryde 129 Cosponsored by: The Political Science Club, The Department of Political Science, The Department of History, The Department of Religion and Culture, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society, The Arabic Club

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20 April, 2011 – I organized the showing of an Egyptian Arabic film: The Birds of Darkness, dealing with political and social issues around the rise of the Moslem Brotherhood’s influence in the Egyptian judiciary. The film was shown at my house on campus and dinner was provided thanks to the Modern Languages department. Twelve (12) cadets were able to attend and then discuss the main issues afterwards.

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8-9 April, 2011 – I organized the VMI participation in the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies 28th Annual Conference that was held at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA. Twelve cadets participated in this conference from the Arabic and Politics and International Relations of the MENA region classes.

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23-25th March, 2011 – I was a member of the organizing and implementing committee for VMI’s East Meets West Conference. I worked on this conference for six months in addition to my teaching responsibilities. My work on the conference included: development of the agenda, themes, selection of speakers, contacting speakers and encouraging their participation, selection of the musical and artistic aspects of the conference, and facilitation of one session during the conference: The Future of Egypt. The websites with all details are: www.vmi.edu/eastmeetswest and http://www.vmi.edu/content.aspx?id=4294972101 and http://www.vmi.edu/content.aspx?id=4294972188

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11-13 March, 2011 – Twelve cadets participated in the Southeast Model Arab League program held at Converse College in Spartansburg, South Carolina. They participated in seven different committees on defense, political affairs, environment and cultural issues. Cadet Russell Johnson received a distinguished delegate award for his participation and hard work in the Defense Committee.

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17 February 2011: Panel Discussion on Egypt at Washington-Lee University, Lexington, VA. 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons [50 persons attended] Have you been wondering what exactly is going on in Egypt? Is the military going to relinquish control? What is Mubarak going to do now? Thursday, February 17, from 6-7 pm in Stackhouse Theater, the W&L Contact Committee hosted a panel discussion on the current situation in Egypt. The panel included Professor Heba El-Shazli, Visiting Professor in International Studies and Modern Languages Department at VMI and native Egyptian, Politics Professor Clifford Kiracofe, and Economics Professor Hojat Ghandi. There was a substantial Q&A session following a brief overview from each professor. Professor Heba El-Shazli discussed events in Egypt from a native’s perspective. She gave an excellent speech last week at VMI, and we are lucky to have her across the fence. Professor Kiracofe, a former senior staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and State Department Employee, gave a brief historical context to the situation and discuss the revolution’s implications on US foreign policy. Professor Ghandi compared the Egyptian Revolution to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and this past year’s Green movement.

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3rd February 2011: I gave a presentation for the VMI students, faculty, staff and Lexington community on the recent developments in Egypt and the 25th January revolution and 120+ persons attended.

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2010
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26 December 2010 – 7 January 2011: I organized all the logistics, program of meetings in-country, and travel details of a winter trip for VMI cadets, faculty and friends of VMI to Egypt: Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan and Luxor with me as the escort.

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2 December 2010– Facilitated the discussion by the cadets who participated in the Egyptian Arabic pilot conversation/dialogue project report with students at Cairo University.

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After Thanksgiving break 2010 – I organized the showing of the Egyptian Arabic comedy film: “Terrorism and Shish Kebab” on campus. This film was a very good tool to learn more about the issues around the rise of terrorism in Egypt and the people’s reaction. We had a very good discussion afterwards on the main points of the film. • 19th November 2010 – I organized a lecture by David Finkel at the Center for Leadership and Ethics (CLE) at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI).  Mr. Finkel is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, editor and writer for The Washington Post.  He discussed his recent book, The Good Soldiers. • 17 November 2010 – A full day field trip with all 32 cadets (from my two IS/PO 374 sections) to Washington, DC for briefings and meetings at the Department of State and at the Council on Foreign Relations on the Middle East issues. We also met with the Military Fellows (Navy, Marines and Army) who are at the Council for one year via video-conference since they are based in NYC.

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15 November 2010 – I gave a presentation on the Evolution of the MENA region from a historical perspective at the request of the Dean’s office at 11 am in the Turman Room

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26 October 2010 at Noon – I gave a presentation (Brown bag lunch) for VMI community: The Three Faces of Cairo in the Turman room __________________________________________________

20 – 22 October 2010 – I was able to take 9 cadets to the 19th Annual Policy Makers Conference – of the National Council on US-Arab Relations entitled: where do we go from here? The cadets were able to interact with leading policy makers relating to the Middle East from the US government, private sector (think tanks), foreign governments’ representatives (Prince Turki from Saudi Arabia) and from the U.S. military e.g. Marine Lt. General John Allen, deputy commander of Central Command and soon to take General Petreaus’ place as the head of all troops in Afghanistan. In addition, they met with several VMI alumni including Mr. Robert Troxler.

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14 October 2010 – I arranged for a guest speaker: Dr. Marina Ottaway, Director of Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The presentation was entitled: Nation-Building and Democracy Promotion: Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. The presentation was held in the Turman Room with over 100+ cadets, faculty and residents from Lexington. I hosted dinner at Moody Hall with 4 cadets and two IS department faculty members before the presentation.