On March 28th 2017 the WACQC invited everybody to discuss cultural differences and the impact of national cultures on human behavior. Dr. Richard M. Dienesch, professor of managerial studies and organizational leadership at St. Ambrose University, shared some insights into the theory of intercultural communication. He spoke about anecdotal and systematic differences across cultures and presented most commonly used cultural dimensions from Hofstede, such as individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, power distance etc. Prof. Dienesch engaged the audience by telling the story of his German background and sharing his observations about the challenges of working with and managing people around the globe. He also encouraged people to ask questions and provide examples from their experiences. We thank everybody who joined us for this interesting and interactive conversation and wish everyone good luck and success in intercultural communication!
On February 28th the WACQC was honoured to host a speaker from the American Civil Liberties Union in New York. Nusrat Choudhury, who is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Racial Justice Program (RJP) of the ACLU spoke in the Quad Cities about the challenges and opportunities of advancing civil rights in the US. Mrs. Choudhury began her talk with the insights into the history and the mission of the ACLU – one of the nation's biggest organizations dedicated to civil rights. She outlined several prominent cases in which the ACLU stood up for individual rights and liberties and then went on to discuss the protection of civil rights in the US today. Mrs. Choudhury addressed variety of issues that raise many concerns for rights and equality, including Muslim travel ban, racial profiling, debtors' prisons and transgender ruling. She considered recent policy changes under the current administration and the challenges they mpose on the enforcement of civil rights.
On January 24th, 2017 the WACQC welcomed more than 150 people, as our speaker, the highly respected QC pediatrician Dr. Majdi Omar, shared his insights into the situation in Syria, that created the worst refugee crisis of our time.
Dr. Omar started his presentation with shocking facts and statistics. As of 2016, the UN identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance – people with physical and mental wounds, terrified, separated from their families, suffering from malnutrition, the cold, illnesses and violence. The war in Syria has forced millions of people from their homes – part of them have become displaced internally, some have fled to the neighboring countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, while others have sought asylum in Europe. Thousands have lost their lives on their journeys, survivors speak about violence and abuse by people traffickers. In the seeming safety of the refugee camps people are still confronted with grave problems – lack of food and clean water, over-crowded shelters, deficient medical care, security issues, etc.
Presented by Dr. Majdi Omar, MD, Pediatrician
Syria’s civil war has created the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Since the onset of the War in 2011 about 11 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes. This includes about 4.8 million refugees who have been forced to seek safety in neighboring countries.
Dr. Majdi Omar, a Quad Cities pediatrician, has treated hundreds of Syrian children at refugee camps in Jordan during several mission trips organized by the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation. In his talk he will share his perspective of the Syrian refugee crises based on his experience and observations.
Dr. Xiaowen Zhang works as an associate professor in the political science department of Augustana College. Together with 80 Augustana College students, she traveled to China as part of a 5-week study abroad program. In her talk on November 22nd, she presented the observations they made during the trip.
Dr. Zhang is a native of Beijing, but she said, that this trip gave her the opportunity to discover many new things, as she traveled to places she had never been before. And the students had a chance to “experience full exposure to China”. They were impressed by Chinese infrastructure with high-speed trains and elaborate subway networks, cheap food and friendliness towards Americans. Not all experiences were positive however, the students were appalled by the traffic, air pollution and poor sanitary conditions of some public places.
Other topics Dr. Zhang covered in her talk included booming real estate projects, internet censorship, energy conservation efforts and tightened control of academic freedom. She also discussed the challenges faced by China today – slowing economic growth, aging population, corruption, inequality and separatist movements – as well as the implications of China’s role in the world.
Presented by Dr. Xiaowen Zhang, Political Science, Augustana College
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On October 25, 2016, Dr. Arturo Meijide of the Department of Modern Language and Culture of St. Ambrose University presented a lecture “Europe’s Next Greece?: Economic and Political Turmoil in Spain.” St. Ambrose University students, faculty and members of the community attended as Dr. Meijide detailed the causes and consequences of Spain’s 2008 economic crisis that eventually led to a full year without a president, a 23% unemployment rate, and 1 million evictions. The presenter explained how Spain’s predicament caused a domino effect that led many to leave the country in search of quality employment, as well as to accusations of corruption among the political class, and major dissatisfaction among Spanish citizens. He cited the main reasons for dissatisfaction as both socioeconomic, including high unemployment, major cuts in education and healthcare (a 10 billion euro cut each), bailouts for major banks and mass evictions; and political, including the weakening of the two main political parties and the appearance of new political parties, vast corruption, and sovereignty challenges. Indeed, the disappointment in the political class is evidenced by Spain’s 15-M Movement, in which 9 million people protested the austerity measures enacted, which were perceived as pushing the economic burden on the poor and working class.
Dr. Meijide concluded that Spain is not necessarily the “new Greece,” as strides have been taken to stabilize the economy. Yet, Spain certainly has many problems to face, including the presenter’s main concern regarding what he terms the “lost generation” or those who must leave Spain to find quality jobs after college. Overall, Dr. Meijide foresees improvements in the economic climate of Spain, while major challenges remain.
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