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WKU launches International Year of South Africa

The International Year of South Africa will feature more than 30 events and programs.

The International Year of South Africa will feature more than 30 events and programs.

The International Year of South Africa promises to bring more than 30 events and co-curricular programs featuring South Africa to WKU’s main and regional campuses as well as to several community venues.

On Sept. 9, the Kentucky Museum and the Office of International Programs will host a reception for the grand opening of Conscience of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela, a collection of quilts, and Reminders of South Africa: The Nancy Baird Collection, a collection of South African art and crafts. The reception will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kentucky Museum. Both exhibits will be on display at the Kentucky Museum through Jan. 31.

braai in the bluegrassOn Sept. 10, the International Year of South Africa will officially kickoff from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Centennial Mall with Braai in the Bluegrass: A South African Barbecue. Geared toward students but open to all, this event will serve as an introduction of sorts, featuring South African barbecue (or braai), giveaways, dance performances, and fun ways to learn more about South Africa and Africa overall.

Beyond the Braai, the year’s calendar will include events ranging from a musical performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo to a wine tasting at Liquor Barn to multiple film screenings, among them a five-part documentary series Have You Heard from Johannesburg?, which chronicles the decades-long struggle against apartheid.

The International Year Of… (IYO) program is an annual yearlong exploration of a single country designed to provide WKU and community audiences with a deeper and more nuanced understanding of and appreciation for the world around them. Academic departments, individual faculty, staff members, and community organizations and businesses partner with the Office of International Programs (OIP) to bring themed events that spotlight the target country while WKU faculty add new international content to their academic courses.

Last year’s inaugural IYO Ecuador generated more than 35 programs and events while nearly 40 academic courses incorporated Ecuadorian content. Under the guidance of the planning committee, this year’s IYO South Africa, while continuing its emphasis on co-curricular programming, has directed substantial energy to encouraging course integration.

Have you Heard from Johannesburg“Programming and events create unique opportunities to connect our students to scholars and other experts, stimulating new interests, and even inspiring them to action—whether that be creating an independent project or a work of art or deciding to studying abroad in that country,” said Addie Cheney, Assistant Director of OIP. “Oftentimes, these events are distinctive, one-time opportunities and not necessarily designed to be repeated from year to year. The permanent addition of South African content to academic courses contributes to sustainable internationalization of the WKU curriculum and, in turn, the academic experience of countless future students.”

More than 40 courses in disciplines ranging from English to Biology to Education are slated to be taught this year with newly added South African content. Faculty members interested in adding South African content to their courses are encouraged to visit OIP’s website for resources that include reading lists created by WKU Libraries as well as the faculty participants in the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar.

mandela_posterPartnerships continue to play a key role in the upcoming IYO South Africa. A contributor to last year’s IYO Ecuador, the Kentucky Museum will host an exhibit from Sept. 8 through Jan. 31. Conscience of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela is a collection of quilts reflecting the ways in which Nelson Mandela touched individual lives and changed a nation.

To view the current calendar of events for the International Year of South Africa, visit wku.edu/iyo.

Beyond the 2015-16 celebration of South Africa, WKU will continue its annual country exploration with South Korea in 2016-17 and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017-18. Faculty and staff who have experience in or knowledge surrounding any of the countries coming up in the IYO program and wish to contribute should contact OIP. Those who have suggestions for future countries of focus should consider submitting a proposal.

Additionally, faculty interested in expanding their knowledge of and connections with any of the upcoming countries of focus should consider applying for the associated ZSEIFS. OIP, under the guidance of faculty leader Dr. Tim Rich (Political Science), is preparing for the ZSEIFS to South Korea in the summer 2016. Applications for that seminar are available now.

The Zuheir Sofia Endowment was created to facilitate the mission of the Office of International Programs, which endeavors to provide leadership in the development of a strong international profile. Zuheir Sofia, a 1969 WKU graduate and 2014 Honorary Doctorate recipient, is chairman, president and CEO of Business Bank of Florida Corp.

About the Office of International Programs: The Office of International Programs supports the internationalization agenda of the university by creating opportunities for faculty and staff development in an global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.

Contact: Kari Paschetto, (270) 745-4218

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