Alwiya S. Omar, a professor in the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, is one of more than 30 academics who were chosen by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to collaborate with African higher education institutions on curriculum development and training and mentoring of the continent’s next generation of scholars.
Omar, a clinical professor of linguistics and director of the Swahili Flagship Center, returned to her native Tanzania this summer and worked with faculty and students at the State University of Zanzibar. She will be going again in May through the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship, and she will make other visits thereafter.
She is participating in graduate student training and mentoring, providing intensive teaching in the Kiswahili Linguistics Program at both the master’s and doctoral levels — online and face-to-face — and supervising graduate students in their research process.
“Alwiya is a great example of how faculty engagement can both benefit society and IU students who also hope to make a lasting impact worldwide,” said Lee Feinstein, dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies. “Her hard work and dedication not only advance the field of linguistics in the country of her birth but also benefit our students who will study the Swahili language and the countries where it is spoken.”
In addition to leading the flagship program, Omar coordinates the teaching of other African languages in the Department of Linguistics and the African Studies program. Her research interests include second-language acquisition, cross-cultural pragmatics, web-based language instruction and study abroad language programs.
The project in Tanzania is one of 31 projects that will pair African Diaspora scholars with higher education institutions in Africa to collaborate on curriculum co-development, research, graduate teaching, training and mentoring activities.
In addition to working with students at the State University of Zanzibar, Omar will work closely with Idris Ahmada Rai, the institution’s vice chancellor, to explore opportunities for further cooperation, including organizing conferences and providing resources for State University of Zanzibar faculty and graduate students. She hopes to help students present and submit articles to refereed journals for possible publication of their work.
“Collaboration with the State University of Zanzibar enables me to give back to my home country, Tanzania, where I was born and raised,” Omar said. “I am thankful to the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship promoting further this collaboration. I am also thankful to Indiana University for the opportunities it gives to its faculty and students for global and international participation.”
The Carnegie fellowship program facilitates engagement between scholars born in Africa who are now based in the United States or Canada and scholars in Africa on mutually beneficial academic activities. The program is managed by the Institute of International Education, in collaboration with Quinnipiac University, and is funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York.
IU’s African Studies Program has long been recognized as one of the leading centers for the interdisciplinary study of Africa. It has been a U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center every year since 1965.