FLORIDA TIMES UNION, June 29, 2009
UNF teacher will study Bangladesh culture for "common problems."
By Josh Salman
Parvez Ahmed understands the importance of culture.
The assistant (associate) finance professor at University of North Florida has worked hard to bridge the gap between the general population and Muslim community in Northeast Florida. He practices equality and preaches the same to his students.
So when Ahmed was awarded the coveted Fulbright Grant, he fulfilled a lifelong dream. He could take the same principles he strives to teach at UNF and apply them to students in South Asia.
Ahmed will be leaving in August to spend the fall semester teaching finance and doing research at the Independent University of Bangladesh in Dhaka, the nation's capital.
"[Teaching] is our way of affecting the hearts and minds of people we are visiting," Ahmed said. "I'm hoping to apply what I learn there to the classroom here and create exchanges."
While in Bangladesh, Ahmed will study the region's economy and financial sector. He will explore the nation's villages and the study the people.
He will venture into the bordering country of India, and see the effects an economic powerhouse can have on a smaller nation.
And he will break down market development in the third-largest Muslim country in the world.
"Most people associate Bangladesh with natural disasters," Ahmed said. "But there's a lot more to it than that."
Ahmed grew up in an Indian town near the university he will be visiting. He hopes this advantage will allow him to develop a deeper social relationship with the native residents.
"This allows us to better understand what's going on in these countries," Ahmed said. "The common problems requiring common solutions."
Ahmed is one of 1,100 faculty nationally awarded the Fulbright grant. He has been at UNF since 2002 and has received the Outstanding Researcher Award three times from Coggin College as well as the Outstanding Teacher Award.
Ahmed has also served on the OneJax board of directors for more than three years, where he's worked to suppress the public's post-Sept. 11 anxiety toward Muslims.
"Being selfish, I can't believe he's going to be gone," said Bobbie O'Connor, executive director of OneJax. "But he's really deserving of the award and has such a strong commitment to the community."
Ahmed plans to use his experience as a motivational tool and generate interest from his students in foreign culture and economics.
He is also planning a study-abroad trip to Egypt for finance students this March. And whether in America or across seas, Ahmed's students said there's no professor they would rather learn balance sheets and market indexes from.
"His lectures are so thought-provoking," UNF graduate student James Fugard said after one of Ahmed's classes. "His courses are definitely a challenge, but you come out learning a lot."
Amanda Mullins said she takes Ahmed's courses every opportunity she has. "He makes sure you know your stuff and can apply it in the real world," Mullins said. "His style definitely make concepts easy to understand."
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