July 02, 2007

Pakistani students at SIUC for summer institute

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Twenty students from Pakistan arrived at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Sunday, July 1, as participants in the Summer 2007 Study of the United States Institute for Student Leaders program.

The Branch for the Study of the United States through the U.S. state department's Office of Academic Exchange Programs sponsors the summer institute. SIUC is one of seven universities in the program, and has welcomed students here to study issues pertaining to American government for 11 summers. The state department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs selected students to participate in the program based on their potential to assume leadership positions in the future.

This year, the Pakistani students get their first real look at the America they will study on Independence Day. They arrived at SIUC on Sunday. They have a short time to get over jet lag, and on Wednesday, July 4, they are off to Randolph County to visit historic sites such as Fort Kaskaskia, before returning to SIUC for the annual fireworks display.

During the five-week program, they will examine issues such as democratic theory, the political party system, federalism, state and local government, the American "Rule of Law" and civil liberties. They will participate in a United Nations simulation, consider the process of writing a democratic constitution and discuss whether democracy can be "exported" to non-democratic countries.

"The broad purpose of this institute will be to provide our visitors with as thorough an emersion in American government, politics, political leadership and culture as possible within five weeks," said John Foster, director of the summer institute and associate professor of political science. "It simply is not possible to replicate the experience of seeing the American political process first hand, as well as meeting some of those who work in it or study it, in a library or classroom abroad."

The students will see democracy in action at the July 17 meeting of the Carbondale City Council. They will also have the chance to take an active part in American culture by volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale during their stay. Rotary members in Randolph County plan to treat the students to a typical American evening at home for at least one night as well. In addition, the class syllabus calls for educational visits to St. Louis, Springfield and Chicago, where the students will visit cultural and governmental sites, including a federal courthouse, the Illinois State Capitol and the Lincoln Museum.

John Jackson, visiting professor with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and Barb Brown, lecturer in the political science department, co-direct the institute with Foster. Several additional SIUC faculty members from political science, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and other departments handle the classroom sections of the institute. A number of governmental and political speakers, including Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Doug Whitley, executive director of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, and Margaret Blackshere, president of the AFL-CIO, will address the students as well.

Media Advisory

Photographers, reporters and camera crews are welcome to cover the summer institute. The following is a short list of events that lend themselves to media coverage. An itinerary is available on the Summer Institute Web site at www.siue.edu/~institute/ but, as plans may change without posted notice, call 618/536-2371 for confirmation.

• July 9, 16, 20 and 23, 1:45-4 p.m., volunteer time at the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale.

• July 10, 2-3:30 p.m., panel discussion with Fulbright program alumni and international students, "The U. S.: What I Expected, What I Found," call for location.

• July 15, 2 p.m., optional activities include the choice of a Southern Illinois Miners Game or a matinee performance of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at the McLeod Summer Playhouse.

• July 18-19, 2-4:45 p.m., Model United Nations simulation, call for location.

• July 22, optional activities include a regional tour of French Colonial sites in the Mississippi Valley, including St. Genevieve, Mo., historical district, Mississippi River ferry and Fort de Chartres in Prairie du Rocher.

• July 24-28, educational tour of Springfield and Chicago. For coverage availability, contact John Foster.

• July 30, educational day trip to St. Louis. For coverage availability, contact John Foster.