Bringing the World to Trent University
Remarks from four international student panellists sparked a lively question and discussion session at the first World Affairs Colloquium of the school year Wednesday.
The colloquium, hosted by the Trent International Students Association (TISA) in conjunction with the Trent International Program (TIP), allowed for a dialogue between students on crucial international issues. About 40 students attended the colloquium held in the Lady Eaton College pit.
Darnally Estava from St. Lucia spoke about misconceptions surrounding feminism while Mikhail Paramonov of Russia talked about the ways gays and lesbians are misrepresented in the media. Nusrat Mutmainnah of Bangladesh gave her views on activist and political groups using Islam for their own needs and Vincent Ng'ethe of Kenya spoke of the international media and non-governmental organizations misusing the plight of Africa.
"Most of the time on the news the dramatic effect is sought. When there is famine or drought the media look for the sensational effect. The coverage is superficial. It doesn't end up in action that would help prevent future famine," said Mr. Ng'ethe.
Part of the problem is that African suffering has become "normal," he said. "The world has a high tolerance for African pain."
He acknowledged the difficulty in getting media coverage, pointing out that a story from Kenya can't compete with the latest on the NHL lock-out in Canadian newspapers.
Similarly, Ms. Mutmainnah said, the media magnifies the views of activist and political groups who misuse Islam for their own causes.
"Activist and political groups rally in ways not allowed in Islam. They are rallying for violence and promoting more hatred," said Ms. Mutmainnah. "It goes against the issue they are talking about. This is supported by the media, which further encourages that (hatred and violence)."
Ms. Mutmainnah said that the activist groups often take phrases from the Qur'an out of context.
"I want to say out loud – our religion does not promote any action of hatred."
Mr. Paramonov said he comes from a country where being gay is not talked about. "It is dangerous and unsafe to be gay in Russia," he said.
Although he is happy to be in Canada, where he is free to express himself as he chooses, he is tired of the way gays and lesbians are portrayed in the media.
"They're always oversexed," he said. "On television and in the media – it seems like the only thing gays and lesbians think about is sex."
In a related comment about misrepresentation, Ms. Estava said there are grave misconceptions surrounding feminsm.
As a result, women avoid calling themselves feminists, she said.
This is because some feminists preach hatred against men. Ms. Estava holds feminist views but emphatically stated, "I don't hate anymen. Anti-male messaging is totally wrong and obsolete."
Feminism is about ensuring the equality of women and men, she said. "Anyone who falls under the category of human should be equal."
Earlier in the day, a Study and Work Abroad Fair featured international opportunities for Trent students.
The fair brought together more than 35 universities and organizations at Gzowski College, said Pratibha Dhillon, a student exchange assistant for TIP.
"This is a great way to find out all the information in one space," she said "There's information on courses, language classes and work or volunteer positions. It can help students figure out their post-graduate options or even opportunities for the summer".
Olivia Puckrin and Meghan Robertson, both in first-year, attended the fair.
"I want to do a year abroad," said Ms. Puckrin, rhyming off New Zealand or Europe as possibilities. "I want to find somewhere unique and fun."
Ms. Robertson concurred.
"I want to teach overseas. A year abroad is a good introduction to that," she said.
The next World Affairs Colloquium will be held October 18 at 3 p.m. in the LEC pit. Paul Davidson, executive director of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) will speak.
Photo: Laura Wood of Globetrotters speaks with Trent students Maryanne Owomero and Kelly Miller.
Posted October 3, 2005