When: Friday, April 1st, 2022 @ 12pm-1:00pm
Where: In-Person: MidWestOne Bank 102 S. Clinton St., Iowa City, IA
Speakers: Dr. Monica Prasad
Corruption lowers economic growth, increases poverty and inequality, and is one of the biggest complaints of ordinary people around the world. The international development community has tried for twenty years to fight corruption, but there is a general consensus that these efforts have not been successful. This talk aims to give a better understanding of corruption and examines a new strategy to control it.
Monica Prasad's areas of interest are political sociology, economic sociology, and comparative historical sociology. She has written three award-winning books using comparative and historical methods to examine the political economy of the United States and Europe, including the history and divergent trajectories of welfare states, the rise of “neoliberalism,” and the origins of distinct patterns of economic growth in different countries and their consequences for redistribution. Dr. Prasad is currently conducting research on the economic consequences of market-oriented welfare policies in Europe. She is also examining state-building and the development of meritocratic bureaucracies in contemporary developing countries. Dr. Prasad has received the Fulbright award, the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and several other grants and awards. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 2000. Her new book, Problem-Solving Sociology, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
When: Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 @12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Andrea Wilson, Chuy Renteria, Eyad Said, Antonia Rivera
Reading, for people around the world, has been one of the primary ways to better understand the vast, complex, and uneven global landscape of immigration. Yet, immigration is not simply an abstract subject of study, not simply headlines flashing on our smartphone screens about distant events, not simply a topic for (often heated) policy debates. When it is, empathy and our ability to understand and appreciate the ways in which we are all interconnected are lost or diminished. Immigration, we cannot forget, is peoples’ lives. And the experiences of refugees, immigrants, asylees—their journeys, fears, and hopes—are as varied and complicated as the individuals living them. Books like The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen and We the Interwoven: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa, Vols. I, II, and III, edited by Andrea Wilson, are important and necessary counterweights. In them, refugee and immigrant writers bind us together through the power of storytelling and the sharing of personal experiences. They imbue personality, nuance, and contradiction—humanity—to that vast, complex, and uneven subject. Through their words, we see each other with our many similarities and differences, anew. Empathy deepens and understanding grows. Perhaps, too, a call to action—for us, the impetus to welcome and support new neighbors to Iowa. In this session, the panel will discuss what it has been like for them to write and share their migration stories, why they chose to do so, and maybe offer some insights about the craft of writing personal narratives. They will reveal what it has been like to receive readers’ feedback. And they will share their views on what the publication of refugee and immigrant firsthand accounts, theirs and others, offer readers and society and why such voices are so very important today.
Jesus “Chuy” Renteria is an artist, writer, dancer, and teacher, but above all, he is a storyteller. Born in Iowa City and raised in West Liberty IA, both sides of his family are from border towns in Mexico that transplanted to meatpacking towns in the Midwest. Growing up in West Liberty, he oscillated between the Mexican, Laotian, and small-town cultures that made up Iowa’s first majority-Hispanic town. Chuy tells stories celebrating the spaces between cultures, of mangled Spanglish and generational clashes, of the messiness of people finding themselves. In addition to his writing, Chuy is an Assistant Director for the University of Iowa’s Inclusive Education and Strategic Initiatives Unit. He is the host of The Englert’s Writers of Color Reading Series podcast. His first full length publication, a memoir titled “We Heard it When We Were Young,” released in November 2021 with The University of Iowa Press. He spends his free time with his wife Darcy and their first born Marisol Alana.
Andrea Wilson is the founder and Executive Director of the Iowa Writers' House, a nonprofit supporting the creation and publication of literature in Iowa. She is the founder of the Bicultural Iowa Writers' Fellowship, and the editor and publisher of We the Interwoven, the first series of essays by immigrants, first- and second- generation Americans in Iowa. As a trained narrative therapy practitioner, she develops programs and workshops which use story as a method to support mental health, psychological healing and empowerment. Her most recent workshop, Reframing the Past & Writing the Next Chapter, was taught in Panama. Andrea has a BFA from Iowa State University and a Master’s in Narrative Therapy from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Antonia Rivera was born in Distrito Federal, Mexico. At age six, she crossed the border and spent her youth in California. Eventually, she received temporary protection and a work permit through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She writes about migration and what it means to be part of the 1.5 generation. She now lives in Des Moines, Iowa and works at Grassroots Law Project.
Eyad Said was born in Damascus, Syria. He lives with his family in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He earned a master’s degree in banking and finance from the University of Damascus, Syria, before getting a PhD in mathematics from Louisiana State University. A husband and father of two, he is an assistant professor of mathematics at Mount Mercy University.
When: Wednesday, February 9th,2022 @12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Dr. Erin Hayward, Adrian Silva (Mexico), Lata D’Mello (India), Alyssa Clayden
Since early 2020, the pandemic has had wide-ranging effects on communities across Iowa. A confluence of factors related to the Covid-19 virus have created particular health and wellness challenges for refugees and immigrants in the state. Early during the pandemic, limited reliable information was available to newer Iowans in languages other than English about how to prevent exposure to and spreading of the virus, creating uncertainties about staying safe and protecting others. Along with the destruction from and chaos due to the derecho storm of summer 2020, individuals and families have been faced with new and compounding hardships: dire employment, financial, and childcare concerns, requirements to restrict contact with family, friends, and others in their communities, as well as increasing and often unaddressed mental health stressors related to and separate from the ongoing pandemic. This year, abundant misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy have resulted in vaccination hesitancy and mistrust in public health officials. In this session, the panel will discuss the health impacts born over the last two years and those which predate them and were exacerbated by the pandemic. Panelists will also share how refugee and immigrant communities have found resilience and strength during these difficult times. And insights will be offered into the ways in which healthy Iowa communities, broadly speaking, are those which listen to, learn from, and support one another across neighborhoods, cultures, and affinity groups.
Erin Hayward, MD is a clinical assistant professor of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the medical director of the International Family Medicine Clinic. Prior to obtaining a medical degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completion of her Family Medicine residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Dr. Hayward completed an undergraduate degree in International Studies at Kenyon College. She has been employed by Lutheran World Relief and was involved at the inception of Tiyatien Health (now known as Last Mile Health), organizations that are active across the continent of Africa in developing sustainable economic and healthcare models to promote health and bring rural Africans out of poverty. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. Dr. Hayward practices outpatient family medicine at the Scott Boulevard Clinic of UICOM and is a rotating faculty member on the family medicine inpatient service at UIHC. She currently serves on the board of the Congolese Health Partnership of Johnson County.
Adrián Silva is the lead medical interpreter at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Stead Family Children’s Hospital. He has been interpreting for Spanish-speaking patients and families for the last 11 years and as such, has been in thousands of medical encounters spanning all aspects of patient care. An immigrant himself, his family moved to the United States from Mexico when he was 8 years old, Adrián can relate closely to the struggles many of his patients deal with as Limited-English and non-English speakers. Throughout his career as a medical interpreter, he has experienced both the joy and wonders of medical care: the curing of a cancer, the birth of a healthy baby, as well as the saddest of circumstances for many patients and their loved ones. He comes to us today with a unique perspective as one of the only staff in a healthcare team that truly gets to see a patient’s full scope of care from beginning to end.
Lata D’Mello (she/her) is a Director of Programs at Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity, an organization serving victims/survivors of gender-based violence in Iowa. She is based in Iowa City and oversees victim services in the Eastern, Northeastern and Southern parts of the state; trains and supervises advocates; edits Monsoon’s communication materials; and conducts outreach and education. Lata was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has had about 22 years of experience as a journalist in newspapers in India, Singapore and the United States. Her interests are social and economic justice, gender studies, community health, and arts and culture.
Alyssa Clayden is a mental health therapist, community educator and doctoral level researcher who specifically focuses on decreasing mental health inequities in refugee and immigrant communities. Alyssa has more than two decades of professional experience living on five continents supporting innovative curriculum and best practice interventions for displaced individuals, families and communities. She runs her own community agency and supports refugee and immigrant mental health locally, nationally and internationally through telehealth services.
When: Wednesday, January 19th,2022 @12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Zalmay Niazy (Afghanistan), Elizabeth Bernal (Mexico), Ines Pecuvcic-Jasarovic (Bosnia),
Rex Mwamba (DRC)
Moving to a new country involves many changes and new sets of priorities, challenges, and rewards. The realities of building a life—finding a home, securing employment, and developing relationships, to name just a few—vary for each person, for each family. Some carry with them traumas from the circumstances which led to their displacement from their home countries. Most are motivated by the promise of new opportunities for their own careers or the educational aspirations of their children. Many are confronted with the need to learn English as a primary language and the challenges that come with navigating complex legal, social, and service systems in that new language. And, of course, new Iowans must engage with neighbors and community members unfamiliar with their lived experiences and often long journeys to the US—not to mention their daily habits, religious practices, accents, and their hopes, fears, and desires. In this session, the panel will discuss how the experience of moving to Iowa differs for people from different walks of life—refugee, immigrant, documented, undocumented, with familial ties in the area, without familial ties. They will share how local nonprofits, especially ethnic community-based organizations (ECBOs), support new Iowans. And they will offer insights into what Iowans, born and raised in the state or elsewhere in the US, should know about their neighbors who have just arrived, those who have been here a longer period, and how we can be welcoming and supportive of both groups.
Ines Pecuvcic-Jasarovic is a Refugee Specialist for the Bureau of Refugee Services in Des Moines, where she has worked for 26 years. Before that, she worked for Interchurch Refugee and Immigration Services in Chicago. She provides various services targeted to prepare clients for employment and education goals. She was born and raised in Sibenik, Croatia and graduated from the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hercegovina in 1988 with a degree in teaching. There she met Semsudin James, a young Bosnian mathematician/computer programmer. Coming from two different backgrounds (Ines as Croatian Catholic and Semsudin as Bosnian Muslim) was not a highly accepted relationship. They married anyway and had a daughter, Suncica. Due to the conflict in former Yugoslavia, Ines and Suncica had to flee Bosnia in early 1992 and started a refugee journey through different locations in Croatia and resettled in Chicago in December of 1993. James reunited with them on Valentine’s Day in 1995.
Elizabeth Bernal lives in Iowa City, where she is involved with multiple community organizations that promote inclusion and wellbeing for immigrant communities. She is co-founder of Open Heartland, a nonprofit serving families in five mobile home communities in Johnson County whose residents are mainly Hispanic immigrants. Elizabeth is also a founding member of the board of directors of the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project, a local community organization that pays immigration bond for incarcerated Iowa immigrants who cannot afford their immigration bond. Elizabeth also serves on the board of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, and last October she was awarded the Rick Graf award from the Iowa City Human Rights Commission.
Rex Mwamba (DRC), Employment Services Case Manager, Catherine McAuley Center, Cedar Rapids. Born in and originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rex Mwamba arrived in the United States in the state of Iowa in August 2013. Rex has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Telecommunication and Network Administration from the DRC. After he completed the English program at Kirkwood Community College for 2 years, Rex obtained an IT certificate and an associate degree in Network and System Administration at the same institution. Today, Rex works as an Employment Services Case Manager at Catherine McAuley Center, where he attends daily work to settle and integrate refugees from all over the world into the Cedar Rapids community in Iowa.
Zalmay Niazy was born in a rural village in the Urozgan province of Afghanistan. He learned to speak fluent English at the age of thirteen and later worked as an interpreter for several branches of the United States armed forces upon graduating from high school. Mr. Niazy has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kardan University in Kabul and he has worked for different national and international organizations, including Titan Linguists, Red Orange International, and Qabaiel General Supplies. He moved to Iowa in the United States in 2015 and, based on the community desire, decided to establish a small business, Zee’s Handyman Services, LLC, which he now owns and operates in Iowa Falls.
When: Thursday, December 16th @ 12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Mak Suceska and Sara Zejnic
Since 1975, when Governor Robert Roy facilitated the resettlement of thousands displaced by the Vietnam War, Iowa has been a welcoming new home for refugees. Today, the crisis in Afghanistan requires Iowa’s continued leadership to resettle 695 people from the war-torn Middle Eastern country. In partnership with agencies and nonprofits across the state, this effort will also require the support of individuals, organizations, and communities to receive these newest Iowans and to help them feel at home in their new neighborhoods. Today’s talk will explain the complex global process of refugee resettlement, offer historical context about immigration to the state, as well as provide an insider’s perspective on and an update about how the State of Iowa is responding to the Afghan crisis. Attendees will hopefully see the talk as a call to action, with insights offered about next steps and encouragement given to enlist others to get involved. Questions about how to welcome and support refugees from Afghanistan and countries around the world are most welcome, both during and after the presentation.
Mak Suceska serves as the Bureau Chief for the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services alongside his role as the State of Iowa Refugee Coordinator through ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). Mak originates from Sarajevo, Bosnia and was transplanted to Des Moines, Iowa in 1993 as a refugee, fleeing from war-torn Yugoslavia with his family. Mak's professional career has been devoted to advocating and supporting refugees across the state in an effort to promote a more equitable community for all. With over 12 years of experience in non-profits and state government, it's Mak's life journey that has provided a unique and necessary perspective in guiding his work. Mak completed his political science undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa with a double minor in religion and history. He achieved his MPA degree through Drake University with an emphasis on public policy, and will pursue his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Drake University. In Mak's words, "Education, Accessibility and Opportunity are the keys to success".
Sara Zejnic is Director of Refugee & Immigrant Services at Catherine McCauley Center (CMC) in Cedar Rapids. After obtaining a B.A. in International Relations and Religion from Wartburg College and a M.A. in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management from SIT Graduate Institute, Sara has dedicated her career to providing and leading supportive services to refugees as they work to find stability and safety in their new communities. In her role at the CMC, Sara is committed to ensuring that community members, partners, and local employers have the information and resources necessary to work effectively with diverse populations.
When: Wednesday, November 17th @ 4pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speaker: Dr. Marcella David
Dr. Marcella David will talk about how the Black Lives Matter movement can be understood through the lens of international human rights, and how the global response shows how connected we are.
Dr. Marcella David is senior vice president and provost and professor in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department at Columbia College Chicago. In her role as senior vice president and provost, David serves as the college's chief academic officer and provides leadership for all academic planning and review including academic diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, advancement of faculty scholarship, research, and creative work, global education, online learning, student retention and persistence initiatives, and the allocation of financial resources in accordance with academic priorities.
Before joining Columbia in 2019, David was a visiting professor of Law at Florida State University and previously served as the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), one of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities with almost 10,000 students across a broad range of disciplines. Prior to FAMU, David held administrative leadership roles at the University of Iowa, including associate dean of the College of Law and special assistant to the president for equal opportunity and diversity. Her research interests include the use of economic and other sanctions, international criminal law, and questions related to international organizations. David received her BS in Computer Science and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and her JD magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School.
When: Wednesday, March 3rd @ 12pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Xinjiang, China, is the home of the Uyghurs, a Turkic people who practice Islam. Although most Uyghurs are not mobilized for a violent independence movement, their homeland has seen its share of violence. This presentation will present an introduction to the Muslim Uyghur region and discuss the relationship between nationalism and ethnic conflict.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Sarah holds a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University. Sarah later received her PhD in Geography from University of Colorado Boulder. She completed three years of dissertation fieldwork in Xinjiang, China. Her PhD work specializes in territorial conflict, governance and development in China. Trained in political geography, she has expertise in state-building and geopolitics, especially in China’s governance of its minority borderlands.
By Kelsey Paul Shantz & Jessica Kline on Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Prior to joining the Stanley Center, Paul Shantz was a researcher for think tanks and research institutions in Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands, including the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), and the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. Paul Shantz has an MA in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and an MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. She also has a BA in international studies from the University of Evansville.
By Peter Gerlach on Wednesday, April 2020
Since 2004, he has taught a wide variety of courses in English, Education, and interdisciplinary departments. Dr. Gerlach’s work as an international educator and his dissertation, current teaching, and research interests focus on the merits and limits of global citizenship, the need for understanding and empathy across cultures, the internationalization of higher education, and the lived experiences of university students, refugees, and immigrants in a globalized world.
In his talk, Dr. Gerlach describes how his new course, Community Engaged Learning with Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa, fosters students’ international education and benefits a local non-profit through service. The talk focuses on how the course was designed; the relationship between the class and community partner, the Refugee and Immigrant Association; and how the course was adapted midway through the semester to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Lessons learned and broader implications for teaching and learning are also shared.
By Meena Khandelwal on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
Click Here to Watch This Program!
A colleague in engineering took a group of students to visit a village in Rajasthan, India; they learned that women and girls were trekking long hours to find and haul firewood that was once available just outside their homes-simply to cook a meal. Availability of a solar cooker, they thought, would not only address the problem of deforestation but would also ease women’s workload and put more girls in school. The engineers’ consideration of perspectives from cultural anthropology and gender studies led to an awareness that the cook-stove problem is not only technological, but also environmental, cultural and political. The project now involves a multi-disciplinary group of colleagues conducting research on the complex nexus of forests, energy, gender relations, health, consumption and culture.Thus far, three publications have resulted from this collaboration.