On October 19, Dr. Agatha Ukata’s students held a joint online class with their counterparts in the American University of Cairo (AUC), Egypt.
The Egyptians are studying “South-South Dialogue: Perceptions and Reflections from the Global South,” which Dr. Mohamed Fahmy Menza teaches. The aim of the joint session was to offer a comparative view of and a fresh perspective on the Global South concept as well as to encourage interaction between students from AU Cairo and other universities around the globe. The topics normally discussed range from current local/regional events to a wide variety of global socioeconomic, political, and cultural issues.
Dr. Ukata, who facilitates the interaction from AUN, said this opportunity for cross-country interaction has been going on with AUC for the past five years. “The course helps students of the two universities to rub minds on happenings and trending issues within the globe, especially in Nigeria and Egypt.” The theme was: Gender Relations and Women’s Rights in Egypt and Nigeria.
The conference is held twice every semester. Dr. Ukata said themes are set for each session. There are preconference readings that stimulate students to read about the country in preparation for the joint session. The first one for this semester took place on September 28 with the theme “Citizenship, Islam, Christianity and State-Society Relations in Nigeria and Egypt.”
The conference is normally structured as rounds of questions and answers from both ends. “They hear our views of the issues in Nigeria and we hear theirs about the same issues or others in Egypt,” said Dr. Ukata. “It engages the students and enables them to look at issues from broader perspectives. It has also helped the students to know about the revolution that took place in Egypt and the fallout(s) from the revolution.”
She said that participation enriches students’ learning because they get to know that the issues they face are not peculiar to them. “They [Cairo students] share their experiences which help us a lot. I invited all students enrolled in all my four classes and those who had found them very beneficial.”
A Law student who had taken Dr. Ukata’s course in a previous semester, Taslim Oladoja, explained why he was interested again in this cross-country conference. “Sometimes, one can be doubtful about what is read in the news, but when such issues are discussed with students in another country [in this case, Egypt], it can give a different view of the situation.”
“Through this real-time interaction, we get to see things from other perspectives,” said Olaoluwa Olanrewaju, who majors in Economics.
Another student participant, Doofan Tar-Aliegba, who majors in International and Comparative Politics, added that such interactions help to build friendship and understanding among different countries. “Sometimes when you go abroad, people have different perspectives of Africa.”
By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa