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IAUNRC and Bennett College Collaboration

by Amita Vempati, IAUNRC Outreach Assistant


Last November, I, along with IAUNRC Assistant Director Katarzyna Rydel-Johnston and CEUS professor Dr. Paul Losensky, had the privilege of visiting Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina to be a part of their Global Studies Series. Bennett is one of two historically black colleges that enroll only women in America. As the IAUNRC began its collaborations with MSI’s (Minority-Serving Institutions), it seemed like a great place to kick-start faculty and, in this case, student visits.


The main scheduled events of our visit were my speech on the Silk Road and Dr. Losensky’s screening of the Iranian move “Offside.” Waiting for us at the campus art gallery was our photo series “Women of Uzbekistan” which we had sent a few weeks before and was now beautifully displayed as an in-house guest exhibit. Of course, all these events were great for showcasing many of the different parts of Central Eurasia. In particular, the photo exhibit and “Offside” described the lives and conditions for women in Central Asia and Iran, which was all the more interesting for our audience.


In the classroom visits, Dr. Losensky and I got to see how Bennett’s own students and faculty were involved in their school’s burgeoning Global Studies program. Even though we were told there was only a small number of students who had studied abroad, we had the pleasure of meeting some of them: a Biology student who has travelled to Costa Rica, a Global Studies student who had been in Italy. The latter even broke the news to us that another student had received a scholarship to study in Zanzibar! The faculty are also enthusiastic and were incredibly interested in bringing Central Eurasia to their classrooms.


Overall, the experience was a wonderful chance to see how non-CEUS students were able to relate to Central Eurasia. As these collaborations go forward, I hope more people involved in Central Eurasian Studies can take advantage of the opportunities to encourage other universities’ students and faculty to explore our region.