(pictured above: Dr. Boyd stands in front of the Department of History at Quaid I Azam University of Islamabad with Ph.D. candidate Sajid Hussein.)
Dr. Debra S. Boyd, a Winston-Salem resident who is an associate professor of French and Francophone Literatures at NC Central University, recently returned from Pakistan, where she soaked in the culture and shared a bit of her own.
Boyd, who’d received previous Fulbright grants to teach and study in other parts of the world, lectured and consulted at universities in the capital city of Islamabad for a month.
“I have a program called ‘Youth and Destiny’ that I do,” she said. “I talk to young people about how important they are to the future of their countries.”
Boyd is also a documentary filmmaker. She screened two of her films in Pakistan – “Griot of Goree: Joseph Ndiaye,” about a beloved orator who kept alive the history of Senegal’s infamous slave-trade outpost, Goree Island; and “Man from the Niger River: Kélétigui Mariko,” which is about a noted Afro-Centric writer and educator whom Boyd met in 1992 during a Fulbright trip to the African nation of Niger. Both of the films are in French with English subtitles. Boyd taught a workshop on how to incorporate literature into foreign language learning, as well.
“It was the first time in all of my Fulbright experience where I had been asked to work with French professors in a college,” she said.
She had planned to venture outside of the capital, to teach and lecture in other parts of the nation, but those plans were scratched due to security concerns.
In the past couple of months, fighting at the region’s border has had an impact on the country’s gem industry and travel. International security concerns about the nation were raised in October 2012 when student Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head on a school bus in the country’s Northwestern District, reportedly by members of Taliban upset with her call for girls to be educated. (Malala survived and is now a much-lauded activist and author.) Also, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, was discovered and killed in Abbottabad, just 68 miles north of Islamabad, by American forces on May 2, 2011.
Boyd said she never felt unsafe in the country, though the house in which she stayed was guarded day and night.
“We were guarded throughout the street as well because of the attack on the airport. There were limited movements on where I could go and what I could do.”
Pakistan is a Muslim nation, but that did not present an issue for Boyd, who had made Fulbright-supported trips to Muslim countries in Africa in the past. Ironically, she met a Christian pastor while traveling to Pakistan who invited her on a mission to the United Arab Emirates.
“I also got to minister at a labor camp in Dubai,” Boyd said. “That was quite an experience.”
Boyd said she enjoyed her time in Pakistan and wants to use the experience to exhort students to experience the world firsthand, instead of relying on news reports to shape their views.
“I made a lot of friends, was able to love on the people and was able to understand things about Pakistan that I could never understand from what I read or see in American media,” Boyd said. “They are just fabulous people, and they are very hospitable.”