Value of IFDS & Testimonials
Below are testimonials written by participants after their seminar experience. If you would like to speak with someone who has participated on one of our faculty seminars, contact email@example.com .
International Institutions and the Challenge of Globalization
Dr. Michael Joseph Roberto
Assistant Professor of History
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
The faculty development seminar in Brussels was a wonderful blend of education and enjoyment, a truly complete experience. The academic presentations, cultural excursions, accommodations and dining, social activities, and opportunities to freely roam various parts of the city contributed to a balanced mix of the serious and the casual. From intense discussions between presenters and participants during meetings, to the friendly relations clearly evident in our outings and informal gatherings, the seminar proved to be an extremely rich experience. Our CIEE hosts, Dr. Michelangelo van Meerten and Mr. Daniel Riley, planned a full schedule of lectures and meetings by several scholars and experts. They also coordinated visits to museums, a first-rate concert, excursions to The Hague and Bruges, and sumptuous dining that made for a memorable eight days. They are both to be commended for their tireless efforts, especially since this was their initial launching of the seminar.
Seminar participants were provided with several highly qualified presenters, who spoke on a variety of issues relating to the process of globalization and its impact on European society and its institutions. We learned a great deal about the structure and functions of the European Union and received valuable information about major issues facing contemporary Europeans; among the most significant involving trade and economic conditions, security, monetary policy, immigration, and the environment. Each presenter focused on a particular aspect of globalization, treating that aspect from the standpoint of past and present impact. However, common to all their discussions was the central role of the European Union. Thus participants had the opportunity to learn about the European Union from a number of vantage points and perspectives. It also was fortuitous to hold the seminar in Brussels, the capital city of the European Union, as it came shortly after recent national referenda on the proposed European Constitution. From the presenters and also in the European press, participants had an opportunity to hear and read about different interpretations of why French and Dutch voters had only weeks earlier rejected the proposed constitution. Several presenters suggested that the “no votes” did not represent opposition to European-wide governance but instead to the neo-liberal economic policies of elites across Europe, who the majority of French and Dutch voters may have blamed for rising unemployment in their respective nations.
The seminar’s fifteen participants, all from colleges and universities in the United States, were given valuable insights about the way Americans and Europeans perceive and respond to different aspects of globalization. As presenter Jarrod Wiener suggested at the opening session, French and Dutch citizens who voted against the proposed constitution were exhibiting the same fears of many U.S. citizens about the process and results of globalization. Like Americans, Wiener said, Europeans are equally wary of a fate that depends on decisions made elsewhere, particularly as these decisions affect the market and its impact on employment, economic stability, and national security. Subsequent presenters returned to this theme, though often suggesting that Europeans generally have a better understanding of these problems due to the relative stability of European social democracy. Open to the fact that some postwar institutions may be anachronistic, Europeans are seeking new ways to govern without sacrificing policies that have established and maintained minimal norms and standards necessary for quality of life.
All the presenters demonstrated how globalization brings many new challenges to European policymakers that require bold initiatives in governance. Member states of the European Union steadily have transferred external trade and monetary policies to the European Parliament. The EP has also become pivotal for ongoing struggles in member states for more democratic control over environmental rights. We learned that despite their concerns over some policies and practices of the EU, European citizens generally support EU environmental policies and initiatives because environmental struggles are often resolved in their favor. This is due to the fact that European law has jurisdiction over national or federal law in many areas of environmental protection. Considering that European law does not adhere to the general principle of economic growth as an end in itself, citizens have the power to actively participate in a decision-making process that balances economic growth with environmental protection.
These and other issues will be considered in my courses at North Carolina A&T State University. I took extensive notes at each session on governance, trade policies, immigration, security matters, and European foreign policy concerns. Much of this material I will use this year in lectures and as topics for class discussion. I am also scheduled to give a talk on the European Union to a faculty-student group in September. Most intriguing to me were the theoretical and conceptual discussions that took place both inside and outside our sessions: for example, the concept of a new type of regionalism in Europe and how it might serve twenty-first century Europeans economically and politically in their competition with the United States and the rising economic power of China and India; or the extent to which European political life retains established forms of social democracy just as some Europeans seek to redefine socialism in theory and practice. I was also struck by the degree to which the European Union is a paradoxical unity: On the one hand, elites in most countries seem increasingly to favor “liberalized markets” and free-trade, while at the same time continuing to maintain certain features of welfare capitalism. As one presenter stated emphatically, the EU is designed to serve the general interest, which implies a fundamental respect for democratic principles and rights. Ironically, a supranational institution safeguards decentralized European culture focusing on participatory democracy. This reality should not be lost on American students, who seem to have quite different views on democracy as the victim of “big government” in the United States.
Brazil: Societal and Economic Perspectives
Jacquelyn C. Franklin, Ph.D.
Professor of Social Science Education
Curriculum Coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice
Jackson State University
The 2005 CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar (IFDS) in Brazil: Societal and Economic Perspectives was an exciting, informative, and an enlightening professional development experience. Through effective on-line and traditional communication methods, this educator was informed of CIEE travel schedules and requirements, Brazil’s climate realities, suggested clothing needs, the proposed program goals, select Brazilian conventions, legal restrictions and select folkways and sanctions prior to leaving the United States of America. At the San Paulo Airport, warm and humanistic behavior by Dr. Jose Carlos Sebe Bom Meihy (JC) and his staff, Ivson Surrusca and Mauricio Zanolini, greeted participants as an impromptu welcome gathering occurred. This informal gathering was great because many of the participants had a chance to meet each other, discuss news, social theories, trends and professional issues which were related to IFDS.
The bus ride to the Caesar Business Paulists Hotel was another informal learning experience. Dr. JC, Ivson, and Mauricio described the scenery of San Paulo and welcomed participants again. Bus rides in the future were exciting with song, folk stories and other spontaneous utterances from both participants and staff. Immediately upon arrival at the hotel, and shortly after “check in”, participants were issued essential program materials. An abbreviated orientation was provided, and shortly after, the first walking tour to the Alumni Association/USA Brazil Bi National Center began. Walking shoes, the IFDS schedule, pre seminar instructional plans and the personal and professional journal proved to be significant assets during the seminar, and allowed this educator to stay focused. Historical and population data and experiencing Brazil via formal and informal field experiences in three Brazilian states would eventually enabled this professional to document social, political, economic, and educational data for post seminar activities. Pre-seminar readings on the history, culture and languages of Brazil also enabled this professional to prepared questions for forth-coming sessions especially those sessions which detailed data on Brazil’s governmental structure, its educational systems: elementary, secondary and post secondary, and ethnic groups especially Afro-Brazilians.
During the first walking tour, this participant viewed a central city neighborhood which included businesses, residents, schools, and colleges. The middle class urban neighborhood was similar to middle class neighborhoods in the USA, and reminded me of neighborhoods studied in urban affairs classes. Specifically, the neighborhood reminded this educator of several neighborhoods on Chicago’s Southside near the University of Chicago and Washington D.C. The tour was basic, but generated many questions relative to my interest in inner-city studies and urbanized community designs. The scenery and structure of building and housing designs were fascinating and generated many thoughts about potential action research opportunities for the future. Several photos were taken to present in social science classes also. Thus, the benefits of this walking tour and forth-coming sessions, evening cultural experiences, and other walking tours answered many immediate urban related questions and generated even more questions as IFDS continued.
The first formal lecture provided teaching and learning experiences on the history, governmental structure, and education systems of Brazil. This educator interacted with several outstanding researchers, college professionals and students. Dr. Jose Carlos Sebe Bom Meihy (JC) and Dr. Flavio Aguiar were key presenters during this session, and student staff members especially Ivson were extremely helpful in gathering resource materials when needed. Dr. J C detailed historic data of Brazil and the state of San Paulo. His lecture provided novel data on the significance of native groups and African slaves in the development of Brazil and the state of San Paulo; his lectures were interesting, informative, and exciting, and many notes were taken by this educator. Dr. Aguiar provided significant data on the structure of the government, the impact of the military dictatorship, the restoration of democracy in the 20th Century, and the current administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. His lecture detailed Brazil’s history of government from the influences of Europeans to the development of the nine of the twenty-six states, the military dictatorships, and the development of a democracy. Dr. Aquiar’s lecture was informative and insightful. Both lectures were in-depth and generated many additional research concerns about the history of current political parties, voting regulations and practices, community focus groups and the significance of race and ethnicity on governmental structure and public policy. I only regret that the lectures were not recorded; these lectures and discussions were timely and meaningful, and I believe they merit consideration for a future book on the subject.
Additional lectures and informal experiences during IFDS in the state of San Paulo were extraordinary. For example, the seminar included opportunities for participants to visit and experience a local café where the music of a popular singer, Jose Rodrigues, performed; Brazilians danced, and the behavior of the people towards a popular musician were viewed. (I purchased several CDs and took pictures of Jose dancing with café patrons, and it is intended that these materials will help to provide opportunities for creative instructional activities among my students. For example, it is planned that select classroom opportunities will allow students to compare USA and Brazilian music from the inner-cities. Another activity will ask students to document musical forms and musical lyrics, and how both influence the behavior of youthful residents who live in select urban communities.) The planned faculty development schedule also provided opportunities to visit one of the tallest buildings in San Paulo and experience fine dinning at an exclusive restaurant.
Activities during the second day included a visit to a second community college, Pontifica Universidade Catolica and another lecture from Dr. Aguiar on Brazil‘s Classical Language and Literature. Dr. Sandres Regina Colucci, a local professional, discussed the Environment and New Challenges. Dr. Colucci elaborated on Brazil’s environment and discussed in depth several new challenges of nine states. She also discussed the impact of other geographic and demographic realities on the people and Brazilian communities. Both lectures were beneficial for future instructional and curricula consideration, after the aforementioned formal lectures, participants were allowed to tour the university, which was once a Catholic convent, and view closely its architectural style. Lunch was provided at a local restaurant, and a visit to Sacred Art Museum offered additional data on the influences of the Catholic Church, its presence in Brazil and its influence on the people of the past and present.
A third lecture at the Alumni Association/USA Brazil Bi-National Center was provided on Education in Brazil by Professor Romualdo Portela de Oliveira. This was an enlightening lecture which discussed the structure of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education in Brazil. It highlighted strengths and weaknesses of popular instructional intervention strategies and requirements for admission at all levels, but most of all it discussed Anisio Teixeira, the Founder of Education in Brazil, and Pablo Freire, the great Brazilian psychiatrist. Data from this lecture was valuable especially on the problems of education admission policies and education attainment by the poor and Afro Brazilians. Many instructional thoughts were generated by this educator as a result of this lecture.
The third field trip, and the final field experiences in San Paulo, involved a tour of an agrarian community outside city limits of the state of San Paulo called the Movimento Sem Terra. This experience allowed participants to interact with community leaders, residents and children who live and work in this community. Data collected and public policies cited relative to the landless movement will hopefully assist this educator in gaining historical data on capitalists and socialists activities among the homeless in Brazil. This experience also generated questions and ideas on the impact of politics and religion on the plights of the homeless and the unemployed in Brazil and USA, and select topics also generated ideas on the need for future action research on the subject.
The air flight to the state of Salvador Bahia was smooth and enjoyable, and the participants were housed at the Vila Gal Hotel. IFDS lectures and field experiences planned were outstanding. The first lecture in Salvador Bahia was entitled The African Presence in Brazil, and was given by Dr. Jefferson Bacelar who lectured in Portuguese. Participants heard the lecture translated into English, with the aid of ear phones, in an electronic room. Data from this lecture offered information on the history of Indians and Africans in Bahia and activities of European explorers especially Pedro Alvares Cabral, and later Americo Vespucio, who landed at the place which was named Bahia de Todos os Santos (Bay of All Saints). Although the lecture format was a bit difficult to follow, several scholarly articles which were provided earlier and the work of student assistants complemented the oral presentation. (For example, when questions or statements were not understood, Dr. JC or staff provided immediate responses and/or translations which resolved most problems.) This educator plans to use notes and the scholarly papers provided to revise several ethnic studies and social science courses, and produce at least one scholarly article and presentation during the fall, 2005 and spring, 2006 semesters. Instructional development activities and action research opportunities will encourage faculty in the Colleges of Education and Liberals Arts. In addition, at least one library exhibit will be planned during the spring semester, 2006, to display teaching and learning materials on the people of Brazil especially Afro Brazilian. Books and other works by Frank Tannenbaum and Jaquim Nabaco will be provided to assist students and faculty. Anticipated results will be the production of original materials produced about the lives of Brazilians in the Negro state of Palmares, such as the life of Zumbi, which was detailed in the poem by J.J. Norberto de Souza e Silva, and comparisons to other heroes and heroines in Brazil and USA. The book by Carl N. Degler, Neither Black Nor White, will also be reviewed during the college “Book Review of the Month” during the 2005-2006 academic year. This educator plans to conduct at least one Teaching Tuesdays session to detail Afro-Brazilian content and instructional strategies when teaching ethnic groups. Hopefully, these works will generate a greater understanding of Brazil by secondary and post secondary students through traditional and non-traditional instructional activities.
Frequent walking field trip opportunities to several inner-city neighborhoods, churches, museums, stores, restaurants, and Afro-Brazilian community associations allowed participants unique opportunities to learn about the people of Bahia. These learning experiences in this state were outstanding because of the novel data collected on Indians, Afro Brazilians, and Brazilians of color. Research opportunities by faculty and students will hopefully provide scholarly papers and perspectives of African-Americans on Afro Brazilians, Indians and Brazilians of color. The aforementioned walking tours also included visits to several Catholic churches in inner-city neighborhoods in Bahia. In addition, participants were given the opportunity to dine at a restaurant which was once a slave quarter and participate in musical performances by local musicians. After each experience, Drs. Bacelar and J C offered professional thoughts on the subject especially during the tours of Bahian churches. The discussions highlighted the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the work of the church throughout the Brazilian population. Many discussions also centered on how select Catholic religious orders influenced Brazilian citizens and how participation in the church was influenced significant by color and class.
The air flight to Rio de Janeiro was pleasant, and the participants reached the Everest Rio Hotel late evening on Monday, June 6th. After an interesting cultural experience and introduction to Rio the first night, four professionals from Jackson State University (JSU) decided to return to the hotel and await formal program activities. The second day in Rio centered on developing skills and knowledge of Brazilian Art. Prior to visiting the first museum, participants were assisted by staff members, Ivson Surrsca and Marianna Fernades who made the bus ride a pleasant experience. The downtown walking tour allowed participants to experience Rio, which reminded me of New Orleans, and to visit Museu Natcional de Belas Artes. On route to the museum, participants witnessed a protest of educators who were challenging Brazil’s public policies on wages. Several IFDS staff and participants translated portions of the protesting educators’ demands, but the program schedule did not allow time for participants to listen to speeches in their entirety or gather needed information to understand the genesis of the protest.
At the museum students viewed paintings, and after a lecture by Dr. JC on Brazilian Modern Art, participants asked questions and made comments. Later, participants visited the Niteroi Museum of Modern Art which featured the works of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The aforementioned tours were interesting experiences, and participants spent time exploring the details of several famous works. Dr. JC ended this experience by allowing participants to express their thought on the beauty and utility of what they had experienced. In addition, participants were asked to give an assessment and summary of what they had experienced. Comments were extremely positive but several comments asked that time , in the future, be given to exploring the Amazon. On the trip back to the hotel several participants were interested in securing more information on the Favella, a large inner-city high rise community. Data were provided, but this educator plans to complete additional research on the subject before offering an opinion. We viewed at least three favellas which reminded this educator of the Robert Taylor Project in Chicago.
The third day in Rio included a trip to the Botanical Garden of Rio. Several working class communities were toured on route to Univeridade Federal Fluminense which were quite different from the communities of Iponema and Copacabana. Later, two exciting and interesting lectures on the Historical Perspectives of Present Brazilian Economy by Dr. Inez Patricio and Poverty and Inequality in Brazil: the Current Social Policy were presented. Dr. Inez Patricio was an outstanding presenter, and captured the attention of participants by her knowledge of the subject and compassion for the Brazilian people. Her knowledge of the socio-economic and educational realities of the USA were highlighted when she discussed her thoughts on eliminating poverty by social reform and citizenship participation using a long range comprehensive plan. Many of her thoughts reminded me of men and women who aided in the development of Historical Black Colleges and Universities and the social policies which helped to develop land grant colleges in the USA through Morrill Act I and Morrill Act II. Dr. Patricio cited the innovative plans, of she and her husband, for developing student leaders, who they hope will remain in Brazil and become community professional in poor, under served, and under developed communities. This was the central theme of this professional’s presentation: economic change through the development of human capital. Dr. Patrico is truly a freedom fighter who is committed to developing action research on education and economic. This was an extremely informative session and lecture. (This educator plans to write a scholarly paper on the professional works of Dr. Patricio and compare them to professional contributions and works of H.P. Jacobs, founder of JSU.)
The faculty development seminar continued with a field trip to Sugar Loaf and atop Corecovado, which means “hunch back”, Christo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer. These were interesting field trips which allowed participants to explore great Brazilian attractions in the state of Rio. The final session was a Farewell Diner which included special awards, tributes, singing and recognition of IFDS program director and staff.
The IFDS experience provided this educator with valuable lectures and learning experiences which will be used. During the 2005-2006 academic year, this educator will: 1) Revise instructional materials in at least four undergraduate social science classes; 2) Organize at least one forum on Brazil at JSU and in my local Community, and 3) Write at least one scholarly paper on the Brazil Summer Abroad Experience and present it during the 2006 International Week Symposium. In conclusion, the program met all of its goals, and this educator rates the seminar with a grade of an A+.
Economic Reform, Regional Integration, and Democratization in Argentina & Chile
James A. Wood
North Carolina A&T State University
Thanks to CIEE’s 2005 International Faculty Development Seminar, my understanding of contemporary realities in Chile and Argentina has been greatly enhanced. I am grateful for the opportunities provided to me by the program and its financial supporters. My experience in the CIEE program gave me diverse perspectives on the contemporary situation in South America’s Southern Cone. I was encouraged to draw my own conclusions about the region’s development in three main areas: Economy and Trade, Democracy and Human Rights, and Regional Integration and Globalization.
I saw that Chile and Argentina share many common elements in the history of the twentieth century. Both have faced turbulent periods of democratic advance, political radicalization, dictatorial reaction, and redemocratization. Both have had to confront the globalized world economic system and its neoliberal prescriptions. Both have entered into a greatly increased number of regional and global trading agreements. Both have had to find ways to resolve deep, painful wounds left behind by military repression and reconcile historical memories with legal justice. In the area of democracy and human rights I was especially impressed by the consolidated nature of democratic government in both countries, which has allowed for an aggressive approach to the prosecution of human rights violators.
With the help of the experts supplied by CIEE and FLACSO I was also able to see how Chile and Argentina have fared economically in the era of globalization. The biggest, most obvious difference between Chile and Argentina, in fact, has been in the area of economic performance. While Chile has been highly successful (by almost every economic measure) pursuing its diversified export model, Argentina faced the most damaging economic crisis of its history only four short years ago. What explains this massive difference in the neighboring countries’ experiences? While numerous factors could be mentioned, three struck me most powerfully.
First, the economic policy decisions of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile were different from those of the Argentine junta of the 1970s. While Pinochet implemented the extremely painful privization policies that transformed the foundations of Chile’s economy, the Argentine junta ran up debt and did little to increase economic competitiveness. Indeed, there is a profound debate going on in Chile today about how much credit the dictatorship should get for doing the economic “dirty work” that some see as the basis for the country’s current prosperity.
Second, Chile’s path back to civilian democracy required a broad alliance of political factions. The political consensus that emerged in the struggle to return to democracy in Chile seems to run deeper than in Argentina, where the Falklands/Malvinas War did much to discredit military rule. This consensus has provided Chile’s Concertación governments with more leverage than their civilian Argentine counterparts in negotiating a wide range of successful economic policies—such as capital controls, corporate taxes, and anti-poverty measures—with the leaders of business, labor, and civil society organizations.
Third, Chile and Argentina made vastly different decisions in the 1990s about how to deal with the value of their currencies. While the Chilean peso floated (after being devalued under Pinochet), the Argentine peso was pegged to the US dollar under President Menem. The outcome of dollarization, combined with the influx of international currency speculators, was disastrous for Argentina. It resulted in a massive amount of corruption, government borrowing to cover its currency “fiction,” and eventually brought about the government’s default on its loans, which in turn triggered the 2001-2002 crisis.
I am already scheduled to present these findings to a group of faculty and students on my campus in October. I have also offered to provide a more customized talk about economic policies and models in contemporary South America to the American Economics Association chapter in our School of Business and Economics. In addition, my experience in the CIEE program will enhance all of the courses I teach, especially the Global Studies Capstone Seminar, which is taken by students who have recently returned from a study abroad experience. I now have my own recent international experience to share with them.
India: The Interplay of Geography, History, and Culture in Event & Experience
Faculty Coordinator for The Global Studies Certificate Program (GSCP)
North Carolina A&T State University
Participation in the International Faculty Development Seminar in India on “The Interplay of Geography, History, and Culture in Event and Experience” has implications for my teaching skills, professional growth, institution and the triad community. This is my fourth Seminar with CIEE but my first as a recipient of the ExxonMobile Fellowship (others: Senegal, 2002; South Africa, 2003; Hungary and Czech Repulic, 2004). The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University mission articulates emphasis on globalization. The Office of International Program (OIP) has the major responsibility for carrying out the goal of internationalizing the institution by creating awareness and counseling both students and faculty about study abroad experiences and integrating global topics in the curriculum. To date, the university has several exchange programs (directly and indirectly), including India. The Global Studies Certificate Program (GSCP) is an academic program designed to encourage students to learn about other cultures and languages through the study abroad experience. I am currently serving as the faculty coordinator for this program and have the responsibility of advising students towards earning this certificate.
Benefits to My Personal and Professional Growth:
In addition to my position as the faculty coordinator for GSCP, I teach the Global studies Seminar Course (a capstone course for students returning from the study abroad experience). This course serves as a re-entry as well as an overall multidisciplinary and experience abroad assessment course. I also teach International Management course in the School of Business and Economics. Syllabi for both courses include country study and profile development. Participation in IFDS-India has broadened my knowledge of India and will enhance my teachings in the area. Further impact will be on the assessment and advisory capacity for students traveling to India for study abroad. This fall, their semester project and final examination will focus on India’s fast developing economy and its diverse environment. My experience this summer will help provide direction for the students’ reseach.
Specific Activities resulting from this experience include:
- A two hour presentation to faculty and students (and some staff) sheduled for November 2005, during the International Education Week. Nov. 14-18. Topic : “India’s Culture and Its New Economy”
- Fall 2005 Semester Project/Final Examination: Research Topic: “Globalization and India’s new Economy: The Challenges of a Diverse Society”
- Research Paper for possible publication: Case Studies on Three of India’s numerous NGOs (Non Governmental Organization) with a focus Factors Influences NGOs Effectiveness in India and other Emerging Nations.
The NGOs visited in India include:
- I Create, Inc- Gujarat
- The Hope Project (The Sufi Village)
- Deccan Development Society (The Sangham Shot and other projects)
Contribution to My Institution:
Contributions in this sector go beyond teaching in the School of Business and advisory as the coordinator for GSCP. The University’s general studies program is currently being restructured to include global emphasis. As a member of the University International/Global Education Committee, experience from the Seminar will go a long way in selecting and making India one of our future area studies program. Expanded knowledge of India’s culture, economy, geography, history, etc. will definitely enhance my teaching skills, advisory capabilities, and thus my professional and personal growth.
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this Faculty development Seminar as an ExxonMobil Fellow. I will continue to share my experiences with faculty, students and administrators. I am willing to serve as a reference to future participants and seek opportunities to participate in future seminars.
Senegal: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Steven J. Salm
Department of History
Xavier University of Louisiana
I attended the CIEE International Development Seminar, “Senegal: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives,” from 10 to 22 June, 2005. The seminar was an unmitigated success! Our co-hosts, Serigne Ndiaye and Catherine Menyhart of CIEE, scheduled a variety of informative and provocative lectures and activities and organized the complex logistics in a remarkably efficient manner. My objectives in attending the seminar were to enhance my overall knowledge of Senegal, experience Senegal’s culture and history first-hand, expand the breadth of my teaching and scholarship, encourage students to pursue study abroad opportunities, and establish professional links with Senegalese academics and seminar participants. The ten-day seminar met all of my objectives.
The daily schedule included a mixture of lecture and sight visits. Speakers from a wide range of disciplines at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop and others from local NGOs presented us with information on historical and present-day politics, the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, religion and Islamic Brotherhoods, literature, development, and social issues such as family life, health, and education. In addition, the group engaged in invaluable excursions that reinforced much of what we had heard in the lectures. These included a visit to the IFAN Museum in Dakar, where we viewed various aspects of Senegalese and West African traditional cultures, and a trip to historic sights on the former slave-trading island of Gorée, including the Maison des Esclaves, the Musée de la Femme, and the IFAN museum. We also spent a weekend at Toubab Dialaw, a village outside of Dakar that hosts a cultural workshop where visitors can participate in drumming, dancing, and batik making. Gorée Island, in particular, provided the opportunity to see the slave trading fortresses and collect photographs that I will be able to integrate into my classroom presentations. We also visited the West African Research Center, the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, a local bookstore, and the FORUT Media Centre de Dakar. These visits provided invaluable resources that will become useful in future research visits. The Media Centre was most impressive! The directors not only train aspiring Senegalese filmmakers in the techniques they need to make films and provide students with the necessary equipment, they also focus on producing documentaries designed to address and alleviate major community problems and promote development. The focus on transforming youth frustrations and utilizing community participation to identify problems was very interesting. Youth collect data, perform visibility studies, define the problem, create and produce a film, and then show it to the community as a way of creating debate and dialogue that can move toward implementation. This impressive program is punctuated each year by the Festival du Film de Quartiers, now the largest film festival in Senegal.
The information, books, and visual resources that I acquired in the lectures and sight visits will be a useful tool in enhancing classroom instruction. As an Africanist, I was already familiar with many of the general ideas covered by the lecturers but more specific details about Senegal and personal anecdotes will improve my teaching of World Civilizations, Black Atlantic, and the History of Africa. Photographs will also be useful in elucidating ideas in these classes as well as the History of Popular Culture in Africa. I can combine the information and images of other slave trading centers such as Elmina Castle in Ghana and Bunce Island in Sierra Leone with those of Gorée Island to make discussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the Black Atlantic and World Civilizations courses more effective. My experiences in Senegal also made me more aware of the impressive genres of Senegalese/Francophone literature, music, and film and allowed me to expand my knowledge of Senegalese popular culture, general urban and youth history, and further analyze the impact of globalization on African cultures. Of course, in a seminar with 21 people, conversations with colleagues also contribute to new pedagogical ideas. In discussion of syllabi, I became aware of new books and lecture topics that I will be able to incorporate into my various courses.
Although I have lived and traveled in Ghana and Sierra Leone a number of years, Senegal was a new experience for me that will enhance my classroom teaching and inform future research activities for years to come. My current research interests are youth, urban, and popular culture; Dakar, the capital of Senegal, had plenty of all to offer in abundance. I was able to collect numerous photographs depicting cultural hybridity and the impact of westernization in Senegal. It is clear that Senegalese youth look toward the United States for many of their cultural influences but it is certainly not a case of cultural hegemony imposed by the Western world. Dakar youth adopt and adapt outside influences to their own particular environment. For example, I had the pleasure of attending evening concerts by Saintrick and Coumba Gawlo Seck at L’Institut Français Léopold Sedar Senghor. The opening acts included young Senegalese rappers who clearly mimicked some of the features of Western rap and hip-hop, but also mixed local languages with French and addressed topics relating to their environment. One of the most impressive cultural experiences for me was being able to attend a concert of Orchestra Baobab, one of the original Senegalese popular bands from the early 1970s. The band split up for almost twenty years and has reunited only recently. Seeing this show reinforced my knowledge of the shared musical influences, including Samba, Rumba, and Jazz, that came together to create new forms of popular music not just in Ghana but also throughout West Africa. I commend Serigne and Catherine for keeping abreast of evening cultural events such as these. The cultural hybridity of Senegal can be seen in the many photographs that I collected. Some of these include a traditional griot singer/musician dressed in a Charlotte Hornets warm-up suit, the complexity of the architecture that dots Dakar’s landscape, the creativity in advertisements and dress, and of course the wide variety of tourist art sold in every corner of the city. As I had hoped, my experiences in Senegal will help me to broaden the range of my current research and take a more truly West African approach by intellectually blurring some of the arbitrary lines drawn during the colonial era.
The last goal of attending the IFDS in Senegal was to gather information on CIEE’s study abroad program and disseminate it to Xavier students. I would have no doubt whatsoever recommending this program to undergraduates looking to spend a year in Africa. Senegal is a stable and progressive country. The study program, situated on Suffolk University’s Dakar campus, offers unique opportunities for students wishing to improve their French and/or learn Wolof, as well as for those in history, political science, sociology, business, and most other disciplines. CIEE arranges for students to live with families around the campus area, providing an excellent opportunity to not only learn about a culture but to live in it. Many students also engage in research projects or participate in community service projects and internships while in Senegal.
With the support of administration and the Center for International and Intercultural Programs, Xavier is making great strides toward internationalizing the curriculum and increasing student involvement in study abroad programs, but we need to increase faculty support as well. I look forward not only to the opportunity of incorporating data and images of Senegalese history and society into my classroom teaching and enhancing my present and future research activities, but also to making presentations to colleagues and students that will further these goals. Study abroad experiences for Xavier students will lead to an increased appreciation of local and global issues and contribute to a better understanding of their role as future leaders in constructing “a more just and humane society,” an important part of Xavier University’s educational mission. I wish to express my gratitude to CIEE and the ExxonMobil Fellowship for making my participation in the seminar possible. I look forward to acting as a reference for future IFDS participants and working with CIEE again.
Senegal: Historical and Comtemporary Perspectives
James H. Smith, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
I am writing this letter to convey my appreciation, and to communicate the extent to which I have benefited from the Exxon Mobil Fellowship that I received to participate in a CIEE Faculty Development Seminar in Dakar, Senegal in 2005. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Spelman College. My research focus is East Africa, and I conducted dissertation research on local understandings of development, and the relationship between witchcraft and development in the Kenyan imagination, from 1997-1999, and again in 2003. I have also conducted ethnographic research in Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, and Zanzibar (Kiswahili language training).
This course was extremely helpful to me, in that it provided me with an opportunity to learn about a part of Africa with which I was quite unfamiliar. The lecture on AIDS in Africa, and Senegal’s response to the epidemic, was particularly helpful, as it focused on the economic underpinnings of the disease. Similarly, the lecture on Mourid trade networks—their history, and the extent to which they facilitate globalization in a context of state decline—was quite helpful to me, as it built on my overall interest in how Africans are adapting to globalization and neo-liberalism. The site visits to Goree Island, and Toubab Dialow were also fascinating, although I would have liked to visit the Mourid city of Touba, primarily because of my interest in global Mourid trade networks. The lecture at Goree Island, on the African origins of certain American English terms, concepts, and styles, was also quite informative.
I am incorporating much of this material into my classes, particularly the anthropology class that I teach, entitled Contemporary African Issues. I have also used some of this material for my class, The Anthropology of Globalization, and in Introduction to Anthropology. I have also been engaged in discussions with faculty concerning the seminar, and will be able to use this experience in advising my students who wish to study abroad in Senegal.
Overall, my participation in the Senegal program has broadened my perspective on African culture and history, and the issues currently affecting Africa, for Senegal differs radically, in many concrete ways, from the East African countries with which I had been familiar: it is Francophone; it is not known for divisive ethnic conflict, and is generally stable and economically strong; it is predominantly Muslim; and it is West African, and so is part of a different historically entrenched network of transnational connections and relationships, including the African diaspora. Many of my students at Spelman have an interest in West Africa, and Islam, as well as the history of the slave trade, and participation in this program has helped me to expand my Africa related courses to respond to their interests.
I greatly appreciate having had the opportunity to participate in this program with the help of Exxon-Mobil
Regional Identities in the European Context: The Catalan Case
This was a particularly interesting time to visit Spain: the controversy over the revision of the regional constitution of Catalonia, the continuing political turmoil and violence in the Basque Country, and regional elections in Galicia. The CIEE seminar dealt mostly with Catalonian nationalism, but this brand of nationalism was also compared with that of the Basque Country and to a lesser extent with the nascent nationalism of Galicia.
The program was divided into a series of eight 90-minute lectures, one three-hour lecture and documentary film, and five visits, three of which were directly related to the lectures. The remaining two visits were to places outside of Barcelona.
The three Autonomous Communities of Galicia, the Basque Country, and Catalonia are the only Communities of the seventeen in Spain which have their own language. Galician and Catalan are full-fledged Romance languages, not dialects of Spanish, as citizens as well as linguists will quickly inform the unknowing tourist. Basque is an ancient non-Indo-European language, one of the few left in Europe. It is because of these language differences and the rise of separate cultures that we find strong nationalist movements in these three Autonomous Communities of the post-Franco era.
What is “nationalism” within Spain, already considered a “nation” in the English-speaking world? There are several words in Spanish which more or less mean “nation,” including “Estado” (the State, usually reserved to refer to Spain itself); “país” (country, again seemingly reserved to refer to Spain alone); “patria” (homeland, the preferred word of the Franco era but also used in the democratic constitution of 1978); and “nación.” The word “nacionalidad” is used in the Spanish constitution to refer to the Basques, Galicians, and Catalans.
With the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, a new constitution was written to put an end to the oppressive dictatorship which had lasted for 35 years. With its passage by popular election in 1978, Spanish remained the official language of the State with Basque, Galician, and Catalan as co-official languages in their respective Autonomous Communities (which would be roughly equivalent to our “states”). Speaking, writing, or publishing in these languages had been forbidden in the Franco era. The new freedom gave rise to increasing pride in one’s cultural differences. In the Basque Country, however, the terrorist group ETA, compromised the new freedoms by its continuing acts of violence against the State and its citizens. (ETA was founded in 1959 to protest the repression of the Franco dictatorship and to seek the independence of the Basque Country from Spain.)
Many of our lectures focused on definitions of Catalan “nationalism.” The current debate in the Catalan parliament over the revision of the Catalan constitution has led in part to the insistence by all but one of the political parties that Catalonia be called a “nación.” Spain is still the “Estado,” which suggests that all but the most extreme nationalists actually want their independence from Spain.
Who then is a Catalan? The answer seems to be anyone who wants to become a Catalan, not just a person born in Catalonia. Catalonia’s population includes a large number of immigrants from North Africa as well as other parts of Spain, particularly Andalucía. There also is a growing population of retirees from northern Europe. More immigrants speak Spanish than Catalan.
Almost all Catalans speak Spanish; many people, primarily those in the middle class, now speak Catalan and will use it as their first language within the family, at work, in stores and restaurants and other public places. It is estimated that there are as many as eleven million Catalan speakers. It is the official language of Andorra, and it is spoken in parts of southern France and in those parts of Italy conquered by the Catalan kings in the Middle Ages. While we were in Barcelona, the European Union accepted Catalan as an official language, although not as one of the “treaty” languages used for legal documents.
Primary education in Catalonia is given in Catalan because it is believed that most children still learn Spanish first; secondary education is given in both Catalan and Spanish. Sixty percent of university classes are given in Catalan and forty percent in Spanish. The decision to conduct classes in Catalan or Spanish rests solely with the professor. Public signs are in Catalan; some also include Spanish as the second language. A few restaurants will automatically hand you a menu in Catalan, and you have to ask for one in Spanish or in another language. However, when it was evident I could not speak Catalan, the other person always responded courteously in Spanish.
In bookstores, the section of books in Catalan is still comparatively small to the books offered in Spanish. Catalan publishing houses produce seventy percent of their books in Spanish and only thirty percent in Catalan. However, one of our lecturers told us that although she was born Ana Romero, she must use the Catalan Anna Rumero in order to be accepted as a true Catalan author.
Cultural symbols also figure prominently in defining Catalan nationality: the Catalan national anthem; Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia; the Catalan national holiday of, ironically, September 11; the Catalan flag. The Catalan government is attempting to get an internet designation of “.cat” instead of the usual “.es.”
Catalonia is home to a branch of Art Nouveau called modernisme, which began to develop at the end of the nineteenth century. The lecture on its origins and characteristics will add much to my class on Spanish culture and civilization. Prominent architects are Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner, and Puig i Cadafalch, whose works we later saw on our walking tours. Pablo Picasso, who began his career in the same era, spent his formative artistic years in Barcelona, where a former Renaissance palace houses a collection of his early works.
It was interesting to hear Basque nationality described by Catalan lecturers, who clearly felt that their brand of nationalism was more acceptable, and they are probably right. A few weeks ago the Spanish Parliament rejected the Basque plan for increased independence because they also included the Basque area of southern France and the Autonomous Community of Navarre in their document. The terrorist violence perpetrated by ETA is still a thorny issue even after forty-five years. A political scandal recently occurred in Catalonia when it was discovered that a prominent politician had held secret meetings with the Basques in an effort to help them resolve their political problems.
We also discussed Galicia on occasion, but there was not enough time to devote to a solid comparison, nor had this discussion been promised. However, what was discussed will be useful for my classes.
Our walking tours of Barcelona and visits to Sitges, the Medieval city of Gerona, the Iberian site of Ullastret, and, yes, visits to the vineyards and bodega of Codorníu and the Masía of Sant Pere Molanta were very worthwhile. A bonus of particular interest for me was the visit to the Cervantes exhibition in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Part I of Don Quijote. Part of the exhibit had been put together by Francisco Rico, Professor of Medieval Hispanic Literatures at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, who had been a professor of mine during his years at Hopkins.
The lectures, handouts, the documentary film on the Basques, and our visits will all be incorporated into my course on Spanish culture and civilization. The lecture on the Spanish family will be of interest to my intermediate students and the lecture and visits on Catalan modernisme will be useful in my language and literature classes. I was also able to buy books and slides which will not be available in the United States. My colleagues in the seminar have sent us all so many digital photographs that I will be able to make several PowerPoint presentations for classes.
I am most grateful to the University for this opportunity to participate in the CIEE seminar. In one short week, I gathered enough information and materials to enrich my classes for the next several years. Antonia Ferriol, our CIEE director, deserves special mention for her superb organization of the seminar, her extraordinary energy and her thoughtfulness in putting all of this together. I am grateful also to CIEE for letting this first seminar in Barcelona run with only eight participants, an unusual luxury.