I had the honor this week of interviewing the first Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence at DePauw, Dr. Manal Shalaby. During our interview, I asked Dr. Shalaby about her educational and cultural background, expectations and experiences of Greencastle, and goals at Depauw.
Here at Depauw, Dr. Shalaby is assisting in launching the new Global Studies Fellowship Program. The goal of this program is to promote cultural exchange and research. Dr. Shalaby hopes to get students, faculty, and the community involved in cultural exchange. Coming from Cairo, Egypt, Dr. Shalaby hopes to provide more Arab representation at Depauw and the Greencastle community. Through the Global Studies Fellowship Program, she hopes to inspire students and faculty at Depauw to engage in and interact with MENA (Middle East and North African) culture.
Before becoming a Greencastle resident, Dr. Shalaby was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Shalaby earned her Masters at Ain Shams University, taught in Williams College for two years, then returned to Cairo where she received her Ph.D. in 2018. Dr. Shalaby says that before arriving at Greencastle, she heard some comments about the Midwest being “different.” Not knowing what people meant, it made her a little nervous. Upon arriving in Greencastle, however, she soon found that strangers were uncharacteristically friendly. She said that in the Northeast, and especially in a large city like Cairo, it was not common for strangers to wave and say “hello” in passing. She found that the people here were incredibly welcoming. Dr. Shalaby has been enjoying her time here teaching a Reading World Literature class as well as connecting with others in the community. She says that food is her love language, and she loves to cook and share Egyptian food with friends. She also enjoys the beauty of the campus and the nature parks that allow her to connect with and be close to nature–something she says she did not get to experience often in Cairo.
Dr. Shalaby’s history in research can be described as rather eclectic. Some of the many topics that Dr. Shalaby has researched include studies of film adaptations of literature, graphic novels, mythology in connection with posthumanism, and, most recently, a study on Middle Eastern literature produced after the Arab Spring. Dr. Shalaby is also a writer for a very successful mythology podcast in Egypt. She says that the podcast is in Arabic, but her and her podcast partner are working on making it accessible in English so it might become internationally known. Dr. Shalaby says that she believes this mythology podcast is different from other mythology podcasts because it goes beyond the simple sharing of stories. She says that the podcast dives more deeply into the meanings and symbols within the mythology and how it connects to humanity as a whole.
Dr. Shalaby is thrilled to be here at Depauw. She hopes that community members, students, and faculty alike will learn more about Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) culture through her Global Studies program events. She has several unique and engaging program ideas currently in the works for Depauw and Greencastle. If you see Dr. Shalaby on campus, be sure to give her a warm Midwestern welcome. Also, keep an eye out for her Global Studies programs throughout the school year, which will be an amazing opportunity to engage in MENA culture and become better global citizens.