Doha College Librarian named 2018 Dimmit Fellow
Doha College’s Secondary librarian, Mohana Rajakumar, an award-winning author and literature scholar was recently honoured with the title of 2018 Dimmitt Fellow. This recognition involves a prestigious two-week invitation to work with students, faculty, and staff at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, which she has just returned from. During her visit, Rajakumar was a scholar in residence on campus, while lecturing with students in creative and critical writing, literature, mass communication, sociology, Spanish, education, political science, and business classes. Significant aspects of her visit included: a campus Common Read event focused on her 2011 collection of short stories, Coloured and Other Stories; a public speaking engagement in the impressive UPS Auditorium titled Living in an Interconnected World: Why Global Perspectives Matter; and a variety of community events at the Mary Treglia Community House, and Northwest Area Education Agency.
With such a wide background as an author in many genres that undoubtedly allows Doha College students exposure to a greater selection of literature, Mohana addressed multiple topics from different perspectives during her time in the States. As a naturalised US citizen born in India, and having lived for extended periods in other countries – of which the last 12 have been in Qatar – she represented to her Iowa audiences both “one of us” and “the other”, making her an effective communicator about both shared humanity and cultural difference. On several occasions, she stressed similarities between Doha and Sioux City, and between her small undergraduate college and Morningside.
Mohana read two of her children’s books – Everyday Wishes and MJ and the Dream – and interacted with a very enthusiastic group of multicultural children ranging from the ages of four to six. In an evening event open to the public, Mohana publicly read her short story Weeds, about an Indian couple who has just moved to the United States. The story reveals cultural differences and how their new immigrant situation impacts surrounding relationships. Attendees asked a series of excellent questions that elicited from Mohana reflections on the story, being an immigrant, Qatar, writing about characters from other cultures, and her writing process. Conversations were also had about unique features of Qatar in her writing, and her dissertation about Islamic women.
Her visit included the world premiere of four of Mohana’s new 10-minute theatre plays covering themes such as diversity and cultural displacement. For the college students, this was a tremendous opportunity to direct (in most cases for the first time) and to embody characters unlike themselves.
Doha College students, who enjoy a rich English curriculum enhanced by author visits, poetry evenings, writing competitions and more, are indeed lucky to have Mohana guide them through the limitless world of books.
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