Nadia Jilani has decided to take a year off after receiving her bachelor's degree in political science.
Nadia Jilani, a 2004 graduate and second-year Fulbright Scholar, will be spending a year in Muenster, Germany, studying with two of Germany's top immigration scholars. She will research the role of Muslim women in German politics and will also teach two comparative politics classes at the University of Muenster.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
She will not be vacationing or working a part-time job, though.
Jilani, 24, the daughter of Iqbal and Margaret Jilani, of Martinez, will leave in mid-October for a year at the University of Muenster in Muenster, Germany, to study the role of Muslim women in German politics.
"I really don't think they have much of a role," Jilani said, adding that she did an extensive research proposal for a Fulbright Scholarship to study the topic in Berlin, but was denied.
Dr. Paul Harris, an associate professor of political science, used his connections at the Muenster university to get Jilani a paid student assistant internship. She'll be a teaching assistant for 12-15 hours of classes, for which she'll probably tutor students in addition to her independent research.
"I'm happy for her," Harris said of his longtime student, whom he described as a hard worker and unforgettable. "It's a very good opportunity for her to research a topic she is very interested in."
Jilani will be studying with university professors, Dr. Uwe Hunger and Dr. Dietrich Thraenhardt, Germany's top immigration scholars.
Jilani said that as a member of the Muslim community in several cities in which she's lived, it will be interesting to see what it's like in Muenster, in Germany and in Europe in general. The immigration authorities will provide numbers and statistics as to why Germany is one of the largest destinations for immigrants from Asia and North Africa, but Jilani said she plans to take her research further than numbers.
"I want to get out and go to the mosque and talk to people and see how they feel about how Germany treats them and if they feel like they have a voice. If not, why," Jilani said. "Is it because Germans aren't interested, or is it because their culture doesn't allow them to speak out? A lot of these women are coming from countries that don't allow them to vote. It'll be interesting."
Jilani graduated from Augusta State University in 1999 with her bachelor's degree in political science, focusing on international relations. Jilani said the topic of international relations comes naturally to her because she grew up in a household with a German mother, who is a teacher in Aiken County, and a Pakistani father, who is a chemical engineer.
"They have both been talking about international politics over the dinner table or whatever for my entire life," Jilani said.
Jilani said she'll attend graduate school when she returns from Germany in August 2006.
Jilani hopes to use the research in Germany as the primary research for her master's degree thesis or her doctorate dissertation. Though she said she knows she wants to get her doctorate in international politics, she doesn't quite know what she'll do after graduation.
"I have a lot of options. I haven't settled on one specific job for the rest of my life," Jilani said.
Harris said he hopes Jilani will help establish a permanent student exchange program with the school in Germany.
Though Jilani plans to work hard, she also plans to enjoy Europe while she's there.
"I definitely want to travel," said Jilani, who speaks fluent German. "I want to go to as many places as I can possibly afford while I'm there.''
Jilani said her parents are supportive of the trip, but for different reasons.
"My mom is really excited about it because I'll come back completely fluent in German and it's a great experience," Jilani said. "My dad is excited, too, but I think he doesn't want to see me go so far away for so long."
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