Associate professor, University of Aleppo, Syria
Discipline: language and literature (non-U.S.)
Research: American and Arabic Literature: Components and Vision
Host: Ohio State University—Columbus, Columbus, OH
September 2005-June 2006
I was fortunate to be granted a Fulbright Visiting Scholar grant for nine months in 2005-2006. I am working on a comparative kind of research on “American and Arabic Literatures: Cultural Diversity” at Ohio State University’s department of near Eastern languages, literatures and cultures.
I was very pleased to have been able to visit two institutions in Texas through the Fulbright Occasional Lecturer Fund. I visited Texas State University—San Marcos from March 21-24 where I presented three lectures on the following topics: “Postcolonial Literature: An Intertextualist Reading,” “Poststructuralist Concept of Genre” and “Comparative Literature: Theory and Practice.” I also had informal discussions with both students and faculty members. I really enjoyed my discussions with them. I learned from them, and they had a chance to meet someone who shared with them a different point of view. I also had interesting classroom discussions following my presentations. I could clearly see students’ enthusiasm to talk to me and learn new things from me.
At Lee College, a minority institution in Baytown, Texas, I gave two presentations. One of them was on “Comparative Literature: Theory and Practice” and the other was on “America’s War on Terrorism: Cultural Impact.” The second lecture was open to the public. I had almost 75 minutes of discussion after my presentation. People asked me questions about Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. They asked me questions about politics, religion and culture. We had a wonderful exchange of ideas there. Those who participated in the discussion kept saying, “Thank you for coming and sharing those ideas with us. We really learned many things about the issues discussed in the presentation and during the question answer session afterwards. We were happy to have the opportunity to meet with someone from the Middle East who shared with us his ideas and expertise about what is going on there.”
The audience was definitely grateful for the Fulbright Program in general and Occasional Lecturer Fund in particular which provided them with the opportunity to meet with me. I feel that such exchange programs are very important in building bridges through a constructive dialogue that helps bring about mutual understanding of our cultures. It is only through mutual understanding that we can put an end to confrontation and move forward in cooperation. Programs such as Fulbright are instrumental in bringing about peace among people. The American culture, stemming from the diverse cultural backgrounds of its citizens, helps promote dialogues between communities.
Furthermore, I participated in the “Global Challenges Conference” held at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas from April 6-8. I presented a paper entitled “America’s War on Terrorism and Its Impact on American Studies.” Once again, the paper was very well received by those who attended the conference. More importantly, we had round table discussions through which we discussed issues related to globalization, identity, education and cultural crises. Those discussions enabled me to elaborate on different conflicts in the Middle East ranging from the war on Iraq, Israeli-Arab dispute, the Palestinian issue, the religious and political platforms of the region, Iran, etc. Those discussions were essential for explaining the real nature of the long standing disputes in our region. As an Arab and a Muslim, I was able to clarify many of the misconceptions that some people have had about the image of both Arabs and Muslims.
It is unfortunate that the concept of globalization is as destructive to human cultures as imperialism was for the colonialists. Globalization doesn’t regard other countries as unique cultures but as markets instead. This issue of globalization is going to deepen the division among people instead of bringing them closer together. Once again, the Occasional Lecturer Fund grants to Fulbright Visiting Scholars to visit other campuses are essential in keeping this ongoing dialogue which is beneficial to all cultures including that of the United States. I would like to extend my deep and sincere appreciation to the Fulbright Program for giving me the opportunity to conduct my research in the United States and for sponsoring my two trips to Texas State University—San Marcos and. I really enjoyed meeting with faculty members and students at those two institutions.