‘Muslim Journeys’ workshop to bring noted authors, journalist to Madison

A workshop on children’s and young adult literature focusing on Muslim Journeys will bring a trio of award-winning authors and a journalist to Madison to talk about their work and share their stories and perspectives.

Two of the authors – Rukhsana Khan and N.H. Senzai – also will tell their stories at a event open to the general public on Friday, August 15, at 6:30 p.m., at A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham, Madison, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC).

Khan, Senzai, award-winning author Ali Alalou, and internationally recognized journalist Saideh Jamshidi, are the featured presenters at the all-day workshop on Saturday, August 16, sponsored by WIOC, an outreach collaboration of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and Madison College.

Nearly 40 participants from around the state are expected to attend the workshop, which is designed for educators, librarians, students, and children’s literature enthusiasts, with the aim of supporting the internationalization of classrooms and libraries statewide. This year’s workshop will explore diverse perspectives on the people, places, histories, beliefs, and cultures of Muslims around the world.

Also in conjunction with the workshop, Khan and Jamshidi will visit Madison’s Goodman South Library on Friday to meet with middle school students who produce the Simpson Street Free Press, a free online and print newspaper.

Here are brief biographies of the featured presenters:

Ali Alalou teaches French and applied linguistics at the University of Delaware. Born in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Ali met his wife, Elizabeth, while both were teaching at a public school in southern Morocco. The couple, who have four children and live near Pittsburgh, PA, collaborated on the children’s book The Butter Man.

Saideh Jamshidi, an American-Iranian journalist and entrepreneur, has worked in print, broadcast, and online media as a writer, producer, chief editor and commentator in the United States and Iran. Recently, she founded Goltune News, an online digital newsmagazine focusing on Muslim women and peace journalism. Jamshidi, who speaks four languages, has won many national and international journalism awards.

Rukhsana Khan, who was born in Lahore, Pakistan and immigrated to Canada at age 3, has published 12 books, made numerous appearances on television and radio, been featured at international conferences in Denmark, Mexico, India, Singapore, Italy, and South Africa, and presented across Canada and the United States. Khan tells tales of India, Persia, the Middle East, as well as her own stories.  She lives in Toronto with her husband and family.

N.H. Senzai wrote Shooting Kabul, chosen by the Asian Pacific Librarians Association as their Young Adult Literature winner and an NPR’s Backseat Book Club pick, and its companion novel Saving Kabul Corner. She spent her childhood in San Francisco, and Jubail, Saudi Arabia and attended high school in London, England, where she was voted “most likely to read a literary revolution” due to her ability to get away with reading comic books in class. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

In addition to the featured presentations, Terry Peterson, a UW–Madison graduate student in history, and others will offer information about teaching resources on the topic.

The Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC), which organizes and hosts annual workshops, includes six area studies programs at UW–Madison and two at UW–Milwaukee. This year, additional sponsorship was provided by UW–Madison’s International Institute.

For more information about the workshop and the featured presenters, contact Rachel Weiss, WIOC/Center for South Asia, (608) 262-9224, rweiss@southasia.wisc.edu.

-by Kerry G. Hill