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Iraq MOU signing also invites students to meet education, national officials

Rows of students watch and listen to a presentation.

Students from universities across Missouri listen to a presentation given by Bahaa Kazem, the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research director general for scholarships and cultural affairs, and Ammar Alsahrawi, deputy cultural attaché of the Iraqi Embassy. They were invited to the presentation and question and answer session Aug. 7.

More than 40 Iraqi students gathered in the University of Missouri College of Engineering’s Ketcham Auditorium Aug. 7 for a chance to talk with officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) and the Iraqi Embassy.

Graduate students from schools in Missouri, including MU, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri University of Science and Technology, St. Louis University, University of Central Missouri and Missouri State University, along with a few from other states, met with Bahaa Kazem, the MOHESR director general for scholarships and cultural affairs, and Ammar Alsahrawi, deputy cultural attaché of the Iraqi Embassy.

Vlad Likholetov, MU Engineering’s director of international partnerships, said the students who visited represented many areas of Iraq and several academic disciplines. The International Student and Scholar Service office promoted the event, inviting any students to come, meet and talk with Kazem and Alsahrawi.

The students discussed concerns they had as international students, and for some, finally put a face to a name that they had conversed with through email or telephone, but never in person.

“This is my first time meeting some of these students who before, I’d only had virtual communication with,” Alsahrawi said.

Two men sit at a table signing documents.

University of Missouri College of Engineering Dean Jim Thompson and Bahaa Kazem, the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research director general for scholarships and cultural affairs, sign the MOU in Lafferre Hall Aug. 7.

Kazem and Alsahrawi were at Mizzou because MOHESR signed an “umbrella” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the university that will allow Iraqi faculty, graduate and undergraduate students to participate in several collaborative programs, including MU Engineering’s Coordinated Degree Programs, graduate study program and short-term training and professional development programs. The MOU covers 12 Iraqi universities that are encouraged to participate in the collaborative activities with MU.

The Iraqi government provides up to $100 million in scholarships and fellowships to Iraqi students and teachers, which will not only bring master’s and doctorate degree seekers, but also faculty members looking for short-term training into new pedagogies.

This is part of a larger initiative, Likholetov said, to help rebuild the educational system of Iraq. More than 20 Iraqi graduate students are currently enrolled in MU’s academic programs, mostly in engineering, with more attending Intensive English classes.



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