FAYETTE, Iowa (January 30, 2008) - "I love the beautiful snow, but the cold that comes with it I can do without," stated Dr. Hassan Zand, one of two visiting faculty members teaching this term on Upper Iowa University's Fayette campus. Zand is from UIU's international center in Hong Kong and Professor Jason Raj is from the UIU-Malaysia center, both located in much warmer climates with no snow.
UIU instigated its instructor exchange program last year in order to develop a cross-cultural experience for both students and faculty. According to Raj, "I want to experience a different culture and gain a different perspective." Zand says, "There is the basic academic reason, but I also want to know what UIU is doing here on the main campus as far as policy, methodology, ideals and expectations, so I can take it back to the field and apply it in Hong Kong."
Both professors have rich backgrounds to share with their American students. Zand, who is teaching English and basic humanities courses, is multi-lingual and well traveled. He speaks English, Persian, Arabic, and Chinese (Mandarin dialect), and has taught at universities in Tehran, Beijing, Hong Kong, and the United States. He has earned not only a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in American literature from Shiraz University in Iran (1973), and an M.Phil. in computational linguistics and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Kansas State University (1991), but a third master's degree in educational psychology from the Hong Kong Institute of Education (2003).
Raj earned both his bachelor's degree in psychology, with minors in anthropology and sociology (1999) and his M.A. in industrial and organization psychology (2001) from the National University of Malaysia. He is teaching industrial psychology and motivation courses while on campus in Fayette.
One thing that Raj was not prepared for was the behavior of American students. "I had feedback that American students were not cooperative, but I have been pleasantly surprised," stated Raj. "So far, I have found them to be obedient, polite and cooperative."
Zand finds the same to be true of the local citizens of Fayette. "Most universities I have taught at are in very large cities, where the administration finds it necessary to hold regular briefings with the students on personal safety," he said. "Here in Fayette, I have no safety concerns. The people are welcoming, and it is quiet and secure."
Zand tells a story about when he first arrived and walked to the convenience store in Fayette in sub-zero temperatures to purchase a phone card. Before he left, the clerk asked if he needed a ride home. Zand thought it was an isolated incident until it happened again the next time he was out walking. He stopped to ask a resident, who was shoveling his sidewalk, for directions. Zand said the man not only offered to give him a ride to the store, but waited while he made his purchase and then provided him with a ride home. Zand added, "I am enjoying living in this small town."
Both professors commend Upper Iowa's new international management for making their trip a reality. They also acknowledge that an American education is important to students overseas, because earning a degree from an accredited American university holds much prestige and is well respected. Zand and Raj agree, "Bottom line, students are in a better position to secure a job."
For more information about Upper Iowa University, its degree programs and flexible forms of delivery, go to www.uiu.edu.