Faculty and staff depart for Bosnia summer program

Rebekah Alvey

Faculty and staff members of WKU with the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar departed Friday to Bosnia as the kickoff to WKU’s International Year Of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

This trip marked the fourth year of International Year Of program. In past years, South Korea, South Africa and Ecuador have been recognized.

The IYO program sponsors some events and exhibits throughout the academic school year that educate students on the selected country. Provost David Lee, who is a part of the seminar, said the trip is intended for faculty and staff to gather information, experiences and contacts to bring back to the university.

Jerry Daday, assistant professor of sociology and executive director of the Center for Faculty Development, and Gina Dzelil, a WKU alumna and Bowling Green resident who represents the Bosnian-American population on the Bowling Green International Communities Advisory Council, are leading the trip.

Throughout the trip, participants will be visiting local universities including American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AUBiH). Daday said WKU could not have done the program without the collaboration with AUBiH.

Daday said he has been involved with the local Bosnian community for many years and has been teaching about Bosnia in his curriculum for 10 years. During the trip, he said, faculty and staff members will have the opportunity to meet with government and non-government organizations in Bosnia to learn about the country.

Participants on the trip have been meeting once or twice a month since December to prepare for the trip. During these meetings, Daday said, participants learned about different faculty members’ disciplines and how they relate to Bosnia.

After the trip, Daday said, faculty members will have different programs to share what they learned with the WKU community.

Jennifer Brinkley, assistant professor of paralegal studies, said she intends on learning about women in law in Bosnia. Brinkley said this had been a long time interest for her and she did research about Bosnia in preparation.

Brinkley said she set up contacts in advance that she intends to meet with over the duration of the trip that can provide more perspective on the subject. From her experience, Brinkley said, she plans on hosting a lecture about everything she learned from a legal standpoint. She also said she hopes to start a study-abroad course in Bosnia with a legal perspective.

Amanda Crawford, assistant professor of journalism, said she is interested in free press in and outside of the United States. Crawford said she plans on speaking to Bosnian journalists while on the trip.

Crawford said she intends on infusing Bosnian culture with her curriculum by assigning students in her Feature Writing course to complete a project on local Bosnian community members.

Daday said the first four countries of the IYO program were selected at the same time, but he believes Bosnia was picked because of the large Bosnian population in Bowling Green. Daday said the program is an opportunity to bridge the communities.

Brinkley said the Bosnian community makes up 10 percent of the Bowling Green population, so it is important for students to understand the culture and history.

Lee said this is an important program to the university because it expands international reach and understanding. When faculty return, they can encourage students to study abroad and provide practical tips.

Brinkley said IYO benefits the university because it allows faculty to integrate a new cultural understanding into their classrooms.

“Students will have a whole year focused on a country they may never go to so this provides some exposure or a taste of that country,” Brinkley said.

Daday said this program will provide more international experiences for the university and is an effort to internationalize the curriculum and expose students to the selected cultures.

“International perspective is important to students now more than ever,” Daday said.

Throughout the year, there will be many programs highlighting the Bosnian community. Brinkley said she is looking forward to the Walk to Remember Srebrenica, a peaceful walk held on July 11. Brinkley said she is also looking forward to the Bosnian film festival that will be held Sept. 5-13 because it is something she has never experienced before.

Starting Sept. 29, there will be an exhibit at the Kentucky Museum featuring artifacts and stories provided by members of the Bowling Green Bosnian community.

Lee said he has been interested in Bosnia for a long time and went 33 years ago with the Fulbright study abroad.

“I’m looking forward to going back,” Lee said.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].