Since 2017, the Anglophone areas of Cameroon also known as the North-West and South-West Regions1 have been the theatre of a separatist conflict that is varyingly referred to as the Anglophone Crisis, Civil War, Socio-Political Crisis etc. The conflict is also depicted in some quarters as an ‘identity conflict’ that ignited following demands by lawyers and teachers that sought to reverse decades of assimilationist policies. This conflict is a direct consequence of the country’s historical trajectory, and the form of state that was adopted following reunification of the French and English sections of Cameroon in 1961. Of particular interest is the deliberate and systematic policies designed to assimilate the Anglophone minority that was pursued by Cameroon’s former and current heads of state Ahmadou Ahidjo and Paul Biya and the successive Francophone dominated governments they have led over the past several decades.
I am a researcher and lecturer of government and politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Bamenda in the North-West Region of Cameroon. My academic activities involve teaching courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. My research and publication activities spans the broader social sciences with particular emphasis on Africa in general and Cameroon in particular. I hold a PhD in Humanities (Political Science and Social Anthropology) from the University of Pretoria.
Join us this Earth Day to learn about a beautiful Pacific Island Nation at the intersection of the international dateline and the Equator! This big oceanic sovereign state is where time starts and encompasses the 12th largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world! However, with a land mass of less than 800 Sq. Km. and an average height of just feet above sea level, it is one of the smallest and most endangered countries in the world. Learn how a 20-year-old Peace Corps Volunteer fell in love with this country, how love turned into action, and how actions created global connections advocating for the nation, its people, and what you can do to help. Joining the presentation will be representatives from the Fiery Canoe Foundation, Tungaru Youth Action, and the upcoming feature film, Millennium Island.
Mike Roman, former Kiribati Peace Corps Volunteer, AmeriCorps VISTA (Central College - Pella, IA) Fulbright fellow, ghostwriter, and co-creator of the social media platform Humans of Kiribati, received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. His dissertation topic, “Migration, Transnationality, and Climate Change in the Republic of Kiribati,” was turned into a 2018 Sundance selection, “Anote’s Ark,” by Matthieu Rytz. In 2020, his second film assisting in creating “One Word,” highlighting the Marshall Islanders' fight for climate justice and survival, was selected for the Lift-Off Global Network Film Festival. Collaborating with governments, international media, non-profit organizations, and citizens worldwide, he has spent the last 23 years raising global consciousness of the climate crisis by humanizing climate change from the frontlines. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National Peace Corps Association, works at the University of Cincinnati, and collaborates with congressional representatives to pass legislation for climate-displaced persons worldwide in his spare time.Mike Roman, former Kiribati Peace Corps Volunteer, AmeriCorps VISTA (Central College - Pella, IA) Fulbright fellow, ghostwriter, and co-creator of the social media platform Humans of Kiribati, received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. His dissertation topic, “Migration, Transnationality, and Climate Change in the Republic of Kiribati,” was turned into a 2018 Sundance selection, “Anote’s Ark,” by Matthieu Rytz. In 2020, his second film assisting in creating “One Word,” highlighting the Marshall Islanders' fight for climate justice and survival, was selected for the Lift-Off Global Network Film Festival. Collaborating with governments, international media, non-profit organizations, and citizens worldwide, he has spent the last 23 years raising global consciousness of the climate crisis by humanizing climate change from the frontlines. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National Peace Corps Association, works at the University of Cincinnati, and collaborates with congressional representatives to pass legislation for climate-displaced persons worldwide in his spare time.
President Fiery Canoe Foundation
Kea Rutherford is a high school student from Scarsdale New York. Her mother's side of the family is from Tabiang and Tabwewa on Rabi and Banaba. She is currently a high school senior at Edgemont Junior Senior High School. Her efforts to aid the Banaban community initially began in the summer of 2021 when she created a fundly page to aid the Banabans in Fiji during COVID-19. From there, she was inspired to create a project to aid Banabans everywhere for education, culture, arts, and heritage projects identified as priorities by Banaban communities. So, she began the Fiery Canoe Foundation with the help of her mother, Maria, and her aunt, Katerina.
Dr. Maria Teaiwa-Rutherford
Secretary Fiery Canoe Foundation
Maria Teaiwa-Rutherford is a board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical Center. Born in Lautoka and raised in Suva, Fiji of Banaban, Tabiteuean and African American heritage, Dr. Teaiwa-Rutherford received her bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University and medical degree from Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Maintaining an office on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Dr. Teaiwa-Rutherford is deeply committed to Pacific Women’s Health and has provided care to patients and teaching of registrars at Tungaru Central Hospital in Kiribati.
Lulu DeBoer is a graduate of Stanford University. A daughter of an I-Kiribati mother and Dutch American father, she spent the majority of her developing years growing up in a small town in rural East Texas. Since an early age, Lulu developed a deep passion for filmmaking and an appreciation of how the medium can unite different cultures to express universal emotion.
Lulu's film work has spanned several nations including the Tribes of Northern California and Washington, Malaysia, Kiribati, Fiji, and Germany. She is currently a board member of a sustainable housing non-profit in Houston, TX. In her spare time, Lulu has a performance based web series chronicling different cultural perspectives on the mermaid symbol. Lulu currently resides in Houston, TX producing a feature documentary, “Millennium Island” under her production company, Lulu Lens LLC.
Ruth M. Cross
Founder, Tungaru Climate Alliance
Kiribati Order of Merit
Ruth M. Cross is the founder of the Tungaru Climate Alliance. She has created community programs and projects to address challenges in Tarawa relating to sanitation, the environment, health care, education, and business. The President of Kiribati recently awarded Ruth the Kiribati Order of Merit for her aid efforts and programs totaling more than $2 million to date. She is committed to creating positive change in Kiribati through meaningful collaborations and a “better together” approach, and she is particularly passionate about access to safe water and sanitation.
President Tungaru Youth Action - Miss Kiribati 2022
Baniti Semilota is currently studying for a Bachelor of Laws at the University of the South Pacific. She founded the first youth-led organization in Kiribati, Tungaru Youth Action (TYA). As president of TYA, Baniti assists this group in empowering local youth. Baniti was crowned Miss Kiribati 2022, using this opportunity to raise awareness on domestic violence and the rights of women and children in Kiribati. Baniti has also represented the Kiribati delegation as their sole youth representative at the COP27 conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
She believes the youth in Kiribati have significant potential and need the right support and tools to succeed and make positive contributions to their families, communities, and country. Baniti is committed to advocating for their needs and concerns at the highest levels of government and society.
What does it mean to be a digital native? TikTok, Boom. dissects the platform along myriad cross-sections—algorithmic, socio-political, economic, and cultural—to explore the impact of the history-making app. Balancing a genuine interest in the community and its innovative mechanics with a healthy skepticism, delve into the security issues, global political challenges, and racial biases behind the platform. Featuring Gen Z influencers like Feroza Aziz, Spencer X, Deja Foxx, and Merrick Hanna.
Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya’s feature documentary Coded Bias premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. She directed the season finale episode for the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, a series profiling trailblazing scientists transforming the future. Executive Produced by Ron Howard, it was broadcast globally in June 2017. Her debut feature film Catching the Sun, about the race for a clean energy future, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary. Kantayya is a TED Fellow, a William J. Fulbright Scholar, and a finalist for the ABC Disney DGA Directing Program. She is an Associate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Kantayya finished in the top 10 out of 12,000 filmmakers on Fox’s On the Lot, a show by Steven Spielberg in search of Hollywood’s next great director.
Narratives play a central role in how nations imagine themselves and the ‘other.’ A central part of narrative making involves comparison, comparisons with other places and other people. These comparisons can, often, enable one nation to appear or perceive itself better relative to the other. Drawing on personal experiences and the oral histories she has documented in South Asia and Canada, Anam Zakaria will discuss the limits of popular and mainstream narratives and highlight what gets lost in simplistic comparisons – be it between India and Pakistan or the US and Canada.
Anam Zakaria is the author of 1971: A People's History from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India (Penguin Random House 2019), Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-administered Kashmir (HarperCollins Publishers 2018) and The Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians (HarperCollins Publishers 2015) which won the 2017 KLF-German Peace Prize. Anam is also the co-founder of Qissa - the home of storytelling and writes frequently on issues of violence, memory, narrative making and the construction of the 'other'. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, CBC, The Hill Times and Al Jazeera among other media outlets. She is currently based in Toronto.
Peace Corps Volunteer Service as a 50-Year-Old: Seeking Dragons and Drinking Tea to Partner in Combating Racial Stereotypes
I turned 50-years-old at the 12-month mark of my 27 months of service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia. Full of curiosity about this culture I knew little to nothing about when I was accepted to serve, I was quickly enchanted by the leftover vestiges of colonization and the omni-presence of dragons in Khmer architecture, whether is small rural villages or the King’s Palace gardens. I grew to gain comfort from dragons - this symbol of power and protection that allows maintenance of treasures. It became and remains a metaphor for the power of commitment to the hard work of reaching across difference to be of service to the priorities of the other, rather than my own…on their terms, rather than my own. And how the treasure of one’s own identity and sense of self-worth is strengthened in this releasing of ownership of the how of the service effort. “You’re never too old to learn,” is an understatement. Learning what I had practiced as a Clinical Psychiatric Social Worker and what I had taught as a Professor in the UT Austin School of Social Work, was actualized through both my Peace Corps Volunteer service and my subsequent work as a Peace Corps Country Director in Mongolia and Kosovo. Realizing that when I stopped blaming others for negative stereotypes held about Black people like me, I started more effectively engaging across our differences to combat those stereotypes and build the bridges necessary to make change happen.
In June 2020, Dr. Darlene Grant joined the Peace Corps Head Quarters Director’s Office as Senior Advisor. From June 2022 to February 2023, she left her office in Washington, DC for Ha Noi, Viet Nam to lead, as senior advisor, in this newest (143rd) Peace Corps program. The program welcomed its first group of volunteers in October 2023. Dr. Grant served as Peace Corps Country Director in Kosovo from 2015 to 2019, and as Country Director in Mongolia from 2012 to 2015. From 2009-2011, she took a leave of absence from her tenured faculty position to serve in Cambodia’s 3rd Peace Corps Volunteer cohort as a TEFL English Teacher and Teacher Trainer. After 10-years of social work practice in domestic violence shelters, drug rehab, and adolescent and adult psychiatric hospital facilities, Dr. Grant worked for 18-years as a professor of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. There she also served for five years as Associate Dean in the Office of Graduate Studies, overseeing university-wide recruitment for over 200 graduate degree programs. In this position she managed a multi-million-dollar fellowship program, mandated with increasing the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity in graduate degree programs. Dr. Grant taught graduate and undergraduate courses in social justice, clinical practice, research methodology, working with women with addiction and criminal justice involvement and at-risk youth. She has authored dozens of journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Grant was named 2006 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.
It is rarely known that Chinese students have long had a significant presence in institutions of higher learning in Iowa. As early as 1909, at least one Chinese enrolled at the University of Iowa. Following this forerunner, a significant number of Chinese students were enrolled in higher educational institutions in Iowa. Between 1909 and 1937, a large number of Chinese students sailed to America to study in Iowa. Based on local newspapers and college yearbooks written in English, this essay casts light on these early Chinese students' transnational experiences in Iowa.
Shu Wan is currently matriculated as a doctoral student in history at the University of Buffalo. His research focuses on the transnational history between China and the United States since the late nineteenth century. He currently serves on the editorial team of Digital Humanities Quarterly and Nursing Clio and works as a host in the Disability Studies channel of New Books Network.
In December 2021, the ICFRC began a program series called, Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa. To begin, we focused on “Resettling Afghan Refugees in Iowa,” with speakers Mak Suceska and Sara Zejnic. These speakers explained the complicated process of refugee resettlement and the early efforts to welcome and support Afghans to the US and to our state. Today, 18 months after the fall of Kabul, Saadat Ahmadi from Catholic Charities of Dubuque in Cedar Rapids and Zainab Afghan from YPN will discuss how the Afghan community in Cedar Rapids has been doing in eastern Iowa, sharing their challenges and their joys as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. Attendees will learn how they can support their Afghan neighbors and the agencies in Iowa serving Iowa’s newest residents.
Saadat Ahmadi is an Interpreter / Resource Navigator with the Catholic charities of Archdioceses of Dubuque (CCAD) in Cedar Rapids helping fellow resettled Afghans with language barriers and introducing them to available resources in the community, Saadat was born and raised in Afghanistan and after graduating from high school joined Afghan Airforce and has a diploma from Afghan Airforce university (Academy) and was a Lieutenant and helicopter pilot for the Afghan Airforce (AAF), Saadat had his flight school and flights in republic of Slovakia in H-269 and MD530 helicopters and in October of 2021 after the fall of the Afghan government Saadat was evacuated from republic of Slovakia to the US and was granted Parole status under the operation allies refuge (OAR) program and in the last winter of 2021, He was resettled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he continue to live, Saadat always had a passion of helping and assisting people and this inspired Saadat to start working with Catholic Charities in Cedar Rapids, Saadat is now part of the Immigration Legal Services team of the of the Catholic Charities in Cedar Rapids helping Afghans with their different immigration matters and helping them seek lawful permanent residency in the US.
Zainab Afghan is the Afghan Program Specialist at YPN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her family and
she came to the US in August of 2021 after the fall of Afghanistan. Her family’s life in the US
started in Wisconsin, but after a long journey, they finally settled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in
February of 2022. Shortly after, Zainab started her first job at YPN in March of 2022. She assists
families in their transition to life in the US, connects them to resources in the community,
interprets for home visits and group classes, and works as a support for Afghan mothers
navigating parenting in the US. She has also collaborated with Catherine McCauley Center, as
they provide many classes and support for the Afghan community. Zainab graduated high
school in Afghanistan, and wants to go to school to become a doctor. She hopes to return to
Afghanistan after she has completed her education so that she can continue to serve those in
In this presentation Professor Gulnaz Sharafutdinova (KCL) will present the key ideas and arguments from her book The Red Mirror: Putin’s Leadership and Russia’s Insecure Identity (2020) about the political transformation that Russia has undergone over the past ten-fifteen years. Specifically, the focus will be on the socio-psychological analysis of the central pillars of Putin’s leadership including the propagation of ressentiment in the society by constructing the trauma of the 1990s and appealing to the main pillars of Soviet collective identity.
Professor of Russian Politics and Director of Russia Institute at King’s College London. She has recently published The Red Mirror: Putin's Leadership and Russia's Insecure Identity (Oxford University Press, 2020) that explores issues of authoritarian legitimation in Russia relying on social identity theory. She has a forthcoming new book: The Aftermath of the Soviet Man: Rethinking Homo Sovieticus (Bloomsbury Press). Gulnaz holds a PhD from the George Washington University, and speaks fluent Russian, Tatar and English. Gulnaz was born in Tatarstan, Russia.
Is misogyny part of Islam? In the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad took pains to address both male Muslims and female Muslims, because both have the same religious duties. The Five Pillars of Islam apply to both of them. The Quran states explicitly that men and women are equal before God. During the seventh century, women could own businesses and fight battles. Muslim feminists throughout the world today are advocating a return to Prophet Muhammad’s vision of an egalitarian religion for an equal society. In Medina where Prophet Muhammad lived in the last ten years of his life, men and women prayed together, side by side, as a single religious community. After Prophet Muhammad died, a dispute about who should succeed him as leader of Muslims led to a split around the year 661 between Sunni and Shia. Iran is the main follower of Shia Islam. However, for almost 14 centuries, Iran was not run by the clergy. The present Islamic Republic of Iran adheres to a concept of the Guardianship of the Clerical Jurist, a concept which was invented by Ayatollah Khomenei in 1970 designating a religious cleric as Supreme Leader. The tendency of splitting off occurred frequently in the long history of Islam. In the 1700s, about 1000 years after Prophet Muhammad had lived and died, Muhammad Abdul Wahab founded the Wahhabi sect, also known as the Salafi sect and Shah Walli Ullah’s teachings led to the establishment in the 19th century of a religious institute at Deoband, a town in North India, giving rise to the sect known as Deobandi. The Wahhabi or Salafi sect and the Deobandi sect are very influential in the 21st century to the extent that the general public often mistake these sectarian interpretations as ‘Islam’. A term used by academics to refer to such sects is ‘Islamism’, which refers to ideologies that extract and interpret verses of the Quran and the Hadith of relevance to a political objective. Whereas the Islam of Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century aspired to be egalitarian, misogyny is found in the various types of Islamism. Such misogyny derives from patriarchy justified as Islam even though such misogyny contravenes the Islam of Prophet Muhammad. Feminism asserts women’s right to be social equals in every way, contrary to the dictates of patriarchy. Is there a difference between feminism and Islamic feminism? The difference lies in the content of the arguments made. Islamic feminism draws its content from the Quran and from the history of Islam since the 7th century. In addition, Islamic feminism needs to engage with the current discussions in the world, including discourses on human rights and women’s rights. Although Prophet Muhammad lived almost 1400 years ago, it is possible that he would have approved of the women’s rights recognised in CEDAW
Dr Vivienne Wee obtained her PhD in Anthropology from the Australian National University, MSocSc in Sociology from the University of Singapore, and Bachelor’s degrees in Music and Anthropology from the University of Minnesota. She was Associate Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong, after having lectured at the National University of Singapore. She played a key role in initiating the Master’s Programme in Development Studies at City University of Hong Kong and the Master’s Programme in Community Leadership and Social Development at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). She is currently teaching at SUSS in the Non-Profit Management Programme. Her decades-long field research has been conducted with Muslims in the Riau-Lingga Islands of Indonesia. In Singapore, she is a founder member of AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) and is currently Senior Adviser there. From 2013 to 2016, she led the project ‘Gender Equality is Our Culture!’, which was supported by UN Women and implemented among Muslims in Singapore and in Indonesia. She is an active member of the Institute for Women’s Empowerment (IWE), a regional organisation for gender equality. In that capacity, from 2006 to 2019, she has been involved in several multi-country programmes with organisations in China, Indonesia, Pakistan as well as countries in the Middle East and Africa. In addition, she has had extensive discussions with leading teachers of Islam in Indonesia.
Rozana Isa is currently the Executive Director for Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian NGO working on women’s rights within the framework of Islam. She joined the Malaysian women’s rights movement in 1999 to address violence against women. This exposed her to the challenges women face to have their rights recognised and exercised in the context of Islamisation within a democratic nation with parallel legal systems. While gender, ethnic, and religious diversities are celebrated in society yet negated at different levels of policies and laws. Before taking up SIS’s helm, Rozana worked with several national, regional, and international women’s rights organisations.
My name is Kyra Lester, and I am a freshman at the University of Iowa. I am an Honors student majoring in Business Analytics and Finance along with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in International Business. On campus, I am involved in MBSA (Multicultural Business Students Association, BizEdge, the Honors Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, Women in Business, InvestHer, Tippie Buddies, and the Vietnamese Student Association. I’m from a small, rural town in Iowa called Colfax, but I was born in Wuwei City, China, and adopted when I was one.
My passion for global issues and international relations stems from this background. I have since grown to love all things travel, culture, international finance and economics, and linguistics. Outside of class, I enjoy weightlifting, baking/cake decorating, reading, and listening to 80s Rock and K-Pop. I am excited to bring these interests to help the ICFRC continue to grow its reach in Iowa City!