SPRINGFIELD, Mo., September 25, 2018 — Each year, the U.S. State Department’s prestigious Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program brings teachers of foreign languages from around the world to share their expertise with students in U.S. universities.
Drury University has boasted an impressive tradition of hosting visiting Fulbright professors to teach Arabic for the past 12 years. However, this year Drury was granted the honor of welcoming not just one but two teachers from this highly-competitive program: one for Middle East Studies and a second, new this year, for the Asian Studies program.
Drury’s Middle East and Asian Studies minors are interdisciplinary programs that expose students to the history, beliefs, languages, and values of two of the most important regions of the world. Not only do such programs help students become more aware of international culture, they prepare students for a range of careers including public service, international business, education, diplomacy, and nonprofit work. Personal interactions with capable teachers from those regions are what make these programs authentic and impactful for the students who participate.
Middle East Studies
Boutaina Alami Kammouri is the thirteenth visiting Fulbrighter for Drury’s Middle East Studies program. Hailing from Fez, Morocco, Boutaina earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah. After completing her MBA, she realized her passion for teaching and has since been an educator for six years, including experience teaching Arabic to non-native speakers from America, Italy, India, and more.
During her time at Drury, she hopes to impart more than just her language.
“I would like to have an experience to know about Americans and of course to make Americans know about my culture,” Boutaina says. “It is very important so as to know how people think, to know about other cultures and traditions.”
As visiting professors, Fulbrighters serve as cultural ambassadors, promoting cooperation and understanding between people of different nations. Boutaina finds it easy to see the effects of two cultures meeting.
“Once I am here, people show me love,” she says. “They are friendly. They are interested to know about my culture and even my religion. I have found like a second family, even with my students.”
“It is such a great honor to be the representative of Asian culture here,” echoes Chiou Ruo-Ting, Drury’s first-ever Fulbright visiting professor for Mandarin.
Chiou holds a Master’s of English Literature from Sun Yat-Sen University in her native Taiwan. Her visit promises to be the core of the Asian Studies program this year. Already, she has plans to share her culture in a variety of events and activities at Drury. The first of such events, the Chinese Moon Festival Celebration, was held September 24 and offered students the chance to learn about Chinese culture by sampling authentic moon cakes, Chinese tea, and Taiwanese fruits. Other future events include a chance to participate in qigong (a Chinese martial art of health and meditation), and the showing of several Asian films, including one about the life and teachings of Confucius.
“I hope more people will come to join and have the experience.,” Chiou says. “I think it is a precious opportunity.”