Gunel Karimova has spent the last several months learning about NIU and the United States as she visits and observes classes in the College of Education.
Now the Fulbright Faculty Development Program participant from Azerbaijan is ready to teach NIU about her home country.
Karimova, a Writing and Information Literacy instructor and junior faculty member at ADA University in Baku, will deliver a presentation on “A Fulbright Visitor from a Small but Beautiful Country.”
The presentation is free and open to all; it will take place from noon to 1 pm Tuesday, April 12, in Gabel 146 and online via Microsoft Teams.
Her talk will address everything from the geographic location, history and oil-rich economy of Azerbaijan to its culture, music, traditions, food, festivals, places to visit and notable people.
“I will try to cover a bit of everything,” Karimova says. “Azerbaijan is not a very popular country; the older generation has some knowledge about it because they are informed about the previous Soviet Union that we were a part of, but the younger generation is not as informed.”
Chosen last June by the US Embassy in AzerbaijanKsarimova’s primary objective in coming to the NIU College of Education has been the creation of a new course for ADA University.
She is working to develop pedagogy that will promote critical thinking skills in her students.
“When I teach academic writing and information literacy, it’s basically an academic writing course with a very small proportion devoted to information literacy,” Karimova says. “I felt that there was a need for more emphasis on information literacy, particularly regarding critical thinking, such as how students can critically evaluate various sources, how they can analyze them and how they can create knowledge out of them.”
Fulbright could help her realize that ambition, she thought, prompting her application.
“You have a course which is similar, and I’m attending those classes,” she says. “It is very interesting for me to learn the experiences of your instructors and your course design. This is quite productive for me.”
An unexpected benefit has been Karimova’s glimpse at asynchronous course delivery.
“Back home, we have classes that are online or hybrid, but we don’t have asynchronous courses. I always used to think that asynchronous courses would be really boring for students – I mean that students wouldn’t be that engaged – but I have come to understand after seeing NIU classes that much depends on how you communicate with students and how you plan the course,” she says.
“If the course is appropriately planned, be it synchronous or asynchronous, you would surely engage at least most of the students,” she adds. “This is what I observed at NIU, and I hope this this experience – this knowledge that I gained here – can be really useful for my university back home.”
Karimova, who also has taken NIU courses in research conduct during her stay, is grateful for her time in Graham and Gabel halls.
“I’m really happy to be here,” she says. “I’ve been really fortunate to have my academic advisor, Sally Blake, who’s really supporting me in everything. She is trying her best to make this experience very colorful and very rich for me, so I’m really thankful.”