01 August, 2006

An American at ZU

A professor of journalism writes about what it's like teaching at an all-female university in Dubai.

6 comments:

Woke said...

Thats a well written article and some interesting observations too.

trailingspouse said...

Yes, a good article. It's very easy to forget that when we see young local "girls", speaking fluent English and with their mobile phones and laptops, that many of their mothers were married by age 12 and had little or no education. These young women have made a huge leap in one generation and we shouldn't be too quick to criticize if they appear less emancipated than their western counterparts.

Harsha said...

Very interesting article. We have a professor at college that lectures the female section at an Arab local university in this country. He lectures at our institute on weekends in the evening. He often tells us about his experiances at the university, very amusing on the part of the students mainly. And the etisalat bans are nothing compared to the bans they have to information there.

The university tries its best to provide its student with good quality material but their values and restrictions hamper their will greatly.

hctean said...

I used to work in one local university and I know from my experience and those of my friends that many of these girls are driven and motivated and are making great strides in changing local perceptions about education, work and life values in general. Journalism is a tough field for anybody, but really how many journalism graduates anywhere in the world end up as anchors?

Yet there are local women anchors; just switch local channels and you’ll find some of them, taking calls, presenting guests, reading news, etc. It’s much more acceptable now than say 10 or 15 years ago; just like families accepting to send their daughters to be educated at ZU or HCT, knowing that most of the employees are foreign men. Sooner or later, more and more of them will tell their own stories, and some are already trying to do that, through film, writing and painting, etc.

There are sensitivities, but they’re often exaggerated. True, there are pressures, conflicts, and in some cases people are fired or deported; there’s been one case where two teachers were fired in relation to the Danish cartoons, another one involving a teacher who was deported after he took local female students fro a field trip abroad and the New Yorker published this article about it. Most recently is the case of a teacher who got deported in very mysterious circumstances (the most consistent rumor speaks of a scandal).

Having said this, these girls, and against all odds, are actually setting an example and managing to overcome all sorts of obstacles (worthless pre-college education, cultural taboos, stereotypes, and sometimes a wacky, corrupt and incompetent administration). I’d glad if more attention is given to the quality of admin people hired outside of any reliable process and given free hand with no credible review or accountability. I’d also be glad if the imported educational cadres running local higher academic institutions are half as modest, honest and truthful as the girls they’re supposedly helping.

Mme Cyn said...

hctean -- The "mysterious curcumstances" story is not as scandalous as it has been put out to be, but I cannot post it here. If you want to know it, email me at zia_zzzz at hotmail dot com. It was one of those things that would have been laughable if it hadn't had such an awful effect on the prof's life. Actually, it would have been a non-issue anywhere outside the Gulf. But, as we say Welcome to Here.

Fatima said...

he may be right about some things, but he's exaggerated alot!! i don't blame him... girls tend to use their families as an excuse. but when they say my dad's going to kill me, don't take it literally... we're not barbarians!!

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