Program livens

by Stacy Jo

Anja Kl”ock wants to share her perspective as a German graduate student with the University. And one new University program is helping make that happen.
Culture Corps, a new program sponsored by the International Student and Scholar Services office, aims to increase the visibility and draw on the unique perspectives of international students like Kl”ock.
As a participant in the program, Kl”ock is collaborating with David Bernstein in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance to direct Kl”ock’s translation of German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s play, “Turandot.” Kl”ock’s is the only English language translation of the play that has been authorized by a member of the deceased playwright’s family.
Kl”ock traveled to Berlin and researched Brecht’s archives and diary entries. These items were once closed to public viewing in Kl”ock’s native country because of political tensions in the former East Germany.
“Working with Culture Corps made me aware of how this project brings together so many of my own layers,” Kl”ock said.
With an international population of about 4,200, the University is teaming with the untapped resource of international students. Culture Corps is intended to serve as an organized framework for students and faculty to work together on projects that bring an international presence into the classroom, said program coordinator Mohammed Bari.
“The whole idea is to use this wealth of knowledge and experience we (as Americans) don’t have access to,” said Nelda Njos, Culture Corps assistant program director.
As a former international student from Israel, Bari said he searched for an outlet to share his own culture and resources with the University community. While he found support from individuals, no institution existed to back his efforts, Bari said.
This quest for institutional support led to the development of Culture Corps. The program supports the collaboration of faculty and students on projects of either an academic or non-academic nature.
The program searches for projects that will serve the University community by integrating the skills and experiences of international students. Cultivating the knowledge and experience of these students will create access to information about other cultures not readily available to professors or departments, Njos said.
“I’m hoping this activity will expose the University community to a different type of experience and a different type of knowledge we otherwise skip over,” Bari said.
Faculty members develop project proposals and students work with faculty members in researching, developing and implementing the ideas. Culture Corps grants the student participants with partial or full tuition waivers or cash awards, depending on the nature and size of the project.
The Culture Corps staff ran a successful pilot program this summer and has since granted funding to Kl”ock’s project, with several other project proposals being reviewed.
Kl”ock’s work is already affecting curriculum in the theater department. Her translation, which she said reflects her own perceptions of the Cold War climate in Germany, is now being interpreted in one University theater class.