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Photography exhibit to illustrate student Middle East experience

A Sunday Oct. 2 Hauck Auditorium lobby event will highlight the opening of a new exhibition of photographs and reflections from University of Maine students who visited the Middle East in May.

Those students were among a group of eight that attended a conference, “Islam and the West: A Civilized Dialogue,” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  Students in UMaine’s School of Policy and International Affiars (SPIA), they also too the opportunity to engage Emerati students while exploring the history, faith and culture of that small nation on the Arabian Peninsula.  Their work will be on display in the lobby, located in Memorial Union.

The opening ceremony, scheduled for 3 p.m., will feature comments from Jenan Jondy, outreach coordinator at the Islamic Center of Maine, and Mohamed Al-Ansari, a research fellow at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).  That institution co-sponsored the May conference in collaboration with SPIA.

“These photos serve to challenge the common perceptions of the Middle East, while exploring the relationships among faith, culture, natural environment and societal development,” says UMaine graduate student Johnanna Barrett, who is organizing the exhibition.  “It is our goal to include and engage the general public, as well as the local Muslim and middle eastern population, and to open dialogue about a wide range of topics currently affecting US-Middle East relations. Specifically, we are interested in how the two cultures can forge alliances in business, banking and civil life while still respecting each others’ values and boundaries, and how we can best address prejudice between the two cultures.”

While in Maine, Al-Ansari will also meet with the SPIA board of directors and members of the local Muslim community at the Islamic Center of Maine.

Sept. 22, 2011
Contact Johanna Barrett

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