Students studying Arabic at UW-Green Bay had a rare opportunity during the first week of the semester. Salameh Naimat, professor of history and dean of students at the University of Jordan, spent time as a guest instructor.
Naimat is visiting the area as part of an effort to increase understanding between the U.S. and the Middle East.
“Through dialogue, it’s the only way to understand each other,” Naimat said.
This summer, Naimat met with a group of UW-Green Bay students and faculty in Jordan. The group travelled to the Middle East as part of the new Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships.
“We have different civilizations, of course. And it’s time to understand each other,” Naimat said. “It’s very important especially in this time. There’s lots of misunderstanding, from West to East and from East to West, especially about Arab history, about Muslim, Islamic history in general.”
Naimat’s visit is made possible by the International Visiting Scholars Program, a joint initiative by UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert College.
In the last eight years, the program has brought in eight different scholars from across the world.
“In all cases when the scholars have been in our community, they have made excellent contributions to students and faculty at our two campuses and also people in the community,” said UW-Green Bay Prof. Emeritus Bob Wenger, co-chair of the steering committee for the International Visiting Scholars.
He says Naimat’s visit will help foster understanding.
“I think it’s extremely important particularly because I think people in the United States and in this community often have a very poor understanding about cultures and people from the Middle East and that also extends to other parts of the world,” Wenger said.
Naimat will give several public talks during his visit. On January 27 Naimat spoke on “Nabataeans: History and Civilization” at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay. He will also give a lecture titled, “Mecca in Pre-Islamic Arabia,” at 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 31 in Rose Hall 250 on the UW-Green Bay campus as part of the Historical Perspectives lecture series. On Feb. 1 Naimat will visit with students and faculty at St. Norbert College.
Naimat says the key to a better future is having people in America and the Middle East be open to communication.
“They have to have dialogue always. Dialogue and they have to understand each other. The only way to interact, to visit, to explain what your civilization is, what the opinion of the people is, it’s during that dialogue.”