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International Faculty Association holds inaugural meeting

Members of the International Faculty Association (front l to r): Lana Akimova, Russia; Debarashmi Mitra, India; Yongqin Zhang, China; A.H.M. Ali Reza,  Bangladesh; Selina Momotaz, Bangladesh; Aathirai Sharma, Sri Lanka, Karen Bell, of Canada. Back row: Paulette Meikle, Jamaica; Franco Zengaro, Italy; Leslie Fadiga-Stewart, the U.S.; Eyad Youssef, U.S./Egypt.

Members of the International Faculty Association (front l to r): Lana Akimova, Russia; Debarashmi Mitra, India; Yongqin Zhang, China; A.H.M. Ali Reza, Bangladesh; Selina Momotaz, Bangladesh; Aathirai Sharma, Sri Lanka, Karen Bell, of Canada. Back row: Paulette Meikle, Jamaica; Franco Zengaro, Italy; Leslie Fadiga-Stewart, the U.S.; Eyad Youssef, U.S./Egypt.

The Delta State International Faculty Association recently held its inaugural meeting. Fifteen individuals comprised of international faculty members representing over 10 countries were in attendance.

Paulette Meikle, one of the initiators of IFA, expressed the direction of the new organization, “The mission involves using our collective wisdom, intellect and creative energy to build consensus and chart direction for a successful international program at Delta State in many different facets. We have plans to promote collaborative activities between campus and the wider community.”

Charles McAdams, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, was also in attendance and noted, “We are obligated to help students prepare for the 21st Century in a global world and to help them understand that there is value in knowing about and working with people of other cultures.”

The IFA was formed as a faculty organization to promote the internationalization of curriculum and to create opportunities for more intercultural awareness in the Delta State community. Some of the goals and activities of the IFA include: using available resources among international faculty to support the work of the International Students Office at Delta State; supporting the “internalization of curriculum” by identifying development opportunities to build interdisciplinary courses and programs to benefit all students; initiating an academic and extra-curriculum activities based scholarship program; hosting and mentoring international students new to the community; and collaborating with the International Student Association.

The initiative for the IFA originally began in 2008 when a team of international faculty in the Division of Social Sciences and History worked together to offer a course titled “Gender in Cross Cultural Perspectives.” While student response to the course was heartening, many students displayed erroneous views about the social, cultural and economic conditions in diverse countries. More courses were consequently developed with an international focus. Many of the courses required students to travel overseas and gave them the opportunity to travel to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Grenada West Indies, Mexico and China. Annual courses to Italy, Ireland, Turkey and Austria had already been in place.

Emerging from these international trips for students were many informal discussions among international faculty to form a faculty organization. The idea for the IFA floated around for several years until recently when President William N. LaForge expressed his support for international programs at Delta State. With his support and the contingent of over 20 international faculty, the idea for the IFA finally conceptualized. In its formative years, the IFA plans to meet bi-monthly.

The IFA has an open membership policy. Those who are interested in joining or getting more information can contact Meikle at 662-846-4066 or pmeikleyaw@deltastate.edu. Another contact is AHM Reza at 662-846-4242 or areza@deltastate.edu. The next meeting is scheduled for May 16 at noon in the Delta State faculty lounge in the H.L. Nowell Union.

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