November 14, 2013



International Education Week collaboration continues

By Mary K Pyle

This International Education Week story is part of the on-going collaboration between the office of international programs and the MC 280 Public Relations Writing classes. 

Barb DeSanto, professor at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, chose the office of international programs as the client. The summer and fall classes write about the office's international initiatives. Students were paired in teams of two for the assignment and captured a visiting professor’s previous experience while at the university. Two team stories by students Carly Dickter, Raychel Gadson, Beth Cornwell and Dani Golway are combined.

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Former International Student Proposes to Reestablish Partnership Between K-State and Afghanistan

While most of us consider American-Afghan relations an area of conflict, one K-State alumnus is pursuing to create a lasting friendship. Sayed Mustafa Zewary, former international student, visited K-State recently to discuss reinstating a faculty exchange partnership between K-State and Balkh University in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. Zewary, who is now a full-time professor at Balkh University, received his master’s degree in modern languages, with an emphasis in pedagogy, or the study of teaching, from K-State in 2011.

K-State hosted 11 students from Balkh University in 2009 on a World Bank grant, including Zewary, who took strategies from his time at K-State to further the education of his students in Afghanistan.

He says that studying at K-State exposed him to a completely different style of learning than he was used to. In Afghanistan, students are traditionally taught to memorize and regurgitate information, rather than the critical thinking, analysis and evaluating skills that are taught in the United States. As a result of his education at Kansas State, Zewary has changed his style of teaching. He now teaches his students the importance of academic honesty and critical thinking. His studies in pedagogy at K-State allow him to bring a new style of instruction to Balkh.

He has taken his skills in analysis, reflection, evaluation, critical thinking and citation and applied them to his teaching methods. Zewary currently teaches public speaking, research methods and a new critical thinking class in the language department, where all courses are taught in English and from English textbooks.

“When people come to K-State, they get an education," he said. "It’s a guarantee they can bring change to whatever country they go back to, like the mission states, ‘leaders for the future.’”

After revisiting K-State in October, Zewary wants to recreate the relationship between Balkh and K-State. He hopes discussions with K-State faculty will allow students from both universities to further their education and cultural experience. Zewary plans to apply for a grant in his country that will continue the connection that gave him so much success.

“I am really looking forward to this partnership, and I hope I can get this done,” Zewary said.

Balkh University is in northern Afghanistan in the province of Balkh. As one of the world’s oldest cities, Balkh has thousands of years of history and is home to some of the region’s most ancient ruins, including the famous 13th century Green Mosque. The university was established in 1986 and is the third largest in Afghanistan, accommodating about 5,500 students.

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One of DeSanto's students sent her the email below following class:

Dear Dr. Barb, I just wanted to let you know I absolutely loved hearing Mustafa talk today in class. Thank you for changing our class daily plan to let him tell us about education in Afghanistan, I found him fascinating!

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Participate in the university's office of international programs International Education week activities.