Visiting professor impacting lives at WSU

WESTFIELD – The sun had already set Sunday on Western Avenue by the time Gali Tealakh, a visiting professor of political history from the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan, retired to his temporary apartment in Westfield State University’s New Hall Apartment Complex, where he has been staying since Thursday.
Tealakh has spent the past few days speaking to classes throughout campus in preparation for his lecture tomorrow, “Political Islam and the Arab Spring”, which will be held in the Loughmann Living Room in the University’s Scanlon Hall.
He will be speaking with students about topics ranging from the Arab Spring and political Islam, to terrorism, fundamentalism and fanaticism.
“I’m not counting the amount of classes I’ve spoken to,” he said with a smile. “Maybe eight or nine? The students have been very welcoming. They want more, and after classes, we talk about questions. They have a great appetite to know more.”
“The core message has been understanding open venues and building bridges of understanding.” Tealakh said. “There is more interest in current affairs, a raise in attention and public opinion.”
Tealakh lists the ongoing violence in Syria as the situation that is of the greatest interest and importance to students.
“The bloodshed in Syria by a criminal regime that is fighting citizens with all kinds of weapons — planes, tanks, chemical weapons,” he said. “Whats happening in Syria could happen to any country anywhere there is a sheer dictatorship — North Korea, Ukraine, anywhere.”
When asked why student interest is so high, Tealakh chalks it up to the world in which we live.
“They (students today) come from a global world,” he said. “The Internet and the media, through things like Twitter, Facebook, InstaGram, connects us at almost the speed of light. The old saying was ‘the world is a village.’ Now, it really is.”
Tealakh, who previously worked as head of the foreign relations department for the Hashemite Charity Organization, head of the Central Asian Division at the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan, and as a senior researcher at the Center for International Studies at the Royal Scientific Society, has received two Fulbright awards, along with a Ph.D. from the University of Durham, and three master’s degrees, one from Temple University in Philadelphia, Indiana University in Bloomington, and Moscow State University each.
When asked of the issues that plague the Middle East, Tealakh mentions the violence in nations like Syria and Yemen, along with ubiqutious presence of Al-Queda, the terrorist faction that he says is also active in African nations such as Libya, Mali, and Egypt.
“Terrorists find the deprived, unemployed, oppressed, and they join their ranks. When they find the government doesn’t extend help, they go to terrorism.” he said. “Religion is a very active factor, and it can be characterized as the ‘politics of extremism.’ This is happening in the age of globalization, which Middle Eastern nations have rejected.”
To fight terrorism, Tealakh advises leaders to enact “deep reforms” to deal with unemployment, absence of freedom, democracy, and good representation.
“The United States started in ’04 a program for reform, which they wanted instead of going to the Arab Spring,” he said. “President Bush invited Arab leaders to the G8 Summit, which hadn’t ever happened, that leaders fromt the Arab world had spoken to the G8. In ’08, President Obama chose Cairo University in Egypt as a platform to address the Muslim world. A Republican President, a Democratic President, both sought exactly the same thing.”
Asked of whether this current crop of global citizens enrolled in college will be able to enact global change, Tealakh is upbeat and optimistic.
“From my impression, I’m very glad students are reflecting in and after lectures, that they’re interested in whats going on, faraway from whats going on in their country, because they think as I think.” he said. “They know faraway fanaticism can reach their neighborhood, or New York City or the Pentagon.”
Tealakh’s Tuesday lecture, “Political Islam and the Arab Spring”, will take place at 4 pis open to the public

To Top