Joan Kjaer will host a WorldCanvass program featuring the Middle East before a live audience from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 7, 2010, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum on the University of Iowa campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The program will begin with UI faculty members offering an historical, cultural, and political overview of the region. Faculty members include the following: Denise Filios , associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese; Christopher Merrill , director of the UI International Writing Program ; and Vicki Hesli , professor of political science.
Next, Syrian musician Firas Sultan will perform on the kanun, a plucked instrument resembling a dulcimer or zither, that is a descendant of the old Egyptian harp.
Bill Aossey, founder and president of MIDAMAR, a U.S. supplier of Halal foods, will talk about the history of Muslims in Iowa, his own family’s life in Iowa, and the present-day Muslim experience in the Heartland. This will include discussion of The Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, the first mosque built for Muslim worship in America and now an Islamic cultural and heritage center.
Interfaith dialogue, from three different points of view, is the next topic of discussion. George El-Khoury , professor of radiology, will add insight about what it’s like to live as a Christian in the Middle East and a Middle Easterner in Iowa. Shams Ghoneim, a native of Egypt and an Iowa representative on the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Doug Jones , associate professor of computer science, will offer perspectives from their own faith backgrounds.
Downing Thomas,  dean of UI International Programs, and Scott King, director of the Office for International Students and Scholars , will talk about the UI’s recruitment efforts in the Middle East including a recent Iraqi initiative.
To end the program, Hayk Arsenyan , an Armenian pianist, currently an adjunct faculty member at NYU, will perform the music of Komitas Vardapet, one of the founders of modern Armenian classical music, and discuss his recent performance tour of the Middle East.
WorldCanvass  is produced one Friday a month, from 5-7 PM, in the beautiful Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Building on The University of Iowa campus. WorldCanvass is a production of UI’s International Programs in partnership with the University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums , UITV , KRUI , and Information Technology Services . For the broadcast schedule, please visit the following links to KRUI  and UITV . International Programs, your global intersection, connects students, faculty, staff, and the Iowa community to the world.