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WCE Faculty Participate in IIUI-UNCW Conference in Pakistan

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Watson College faculty members Susan Catapano and Michele Parker traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan to participate in the second IIUI-UNCW conference in October. The event was part of the IIUI Partnership, an educational and cultural partnership between UNCW and the International Islamic University in Islamabad established in 2014 with funding through the U.S. Department of State.

The conference, titled “Local Cities, Foreign Capitals: Finding the Local Anchor in the Global Cultures” was held on the IIUI Campus. Ten faculty members from UNCW joined Pakistani scholars for the three-day event, held Oct. 9-11.

At the conference, Catapano shared research from her 2016 book More Mirrors in the Classroom in a presentation titled, “Using Culturally Relevant Children’s Literature to Support Literacy Development.” Parker’s presentation focused on “Acculturation, Identity and Race Relations while Performing Globalization.” During the session, participating scholars discussed issues related to gender, identity, religion and race.

“The discussion broadened my awareness of Pakistani culture, Pakistani scholars and the literature on the session topic,” Parker said. “During the Q&A, the session chair shared an endearing story about her travel to the United States, which illuminated the need to continue sharing and discussing acculturation and identity. The opportunities for future collaboration were evident.”

Parker said it was interesting to observe, experience and think about gendered interactions throughout the trip. “For instance, the first time I walked into the main auditorium at IIUI and saw the Pakistani women on one side and the men on the opposite side of the auditorium is etched in memory,” she said.

During their week in Pakistan, Catapano and Parker immersed themselves in the local culture. They visited Taxila Museum, Lok Virsa Museum and Faisal Mosque and discovered the richness of Pakistani food, which includes an ample variety of delicious vegan dishes.

Other UNCW conference participants were Florentina Andreescu, Jess Boersma, Cara Cilano, Caroline Clements, Lance Cummings, Daniel Masters, James Taylor and Jeremy Rowley. Andreescu, Boersma, Clements, Cummings, Masters and Taylor are faculty members in UNCW’s College of Arts and Sciences, and Rowley is an administrator on the IIUI-UNCW grant. Cilano was lead Principal Investigator on the UNCW grant, and is now a professor and chair of the English Department at Michigan State University. Clements has assumed the role of lead PI.

The grant program linking Pakistani universities with U.S. institutions was initiated by the State Department in 2012 under the Fulbright-Hays Act, officially known as the Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. The goal of the program is to help the United States Department of State meet its diplomacy objectives, which include ‘expanding and strengthening the relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world’.