• Abby Fowler

Academic Writing in Higher Education: A Program for Bangladesh



From October 12th to 18th, we hosted a delegation from Bangladesh in eastern Iowa for a program titled “Academic Writing in Higher Education.” This program aimed to teach this group of professionals how U.S. academic writing centers are set up and managed, as well as their impact on the institutions they serve.


The day after their arrival in Iowa City, the delegation started their day by meeting with and learning about various writing centers in Iowa City. This meeting included Daniel Khalastchi, Director of the Magid Center for Writing, Stephen Lovely, Director of the Young Writers’ Studio, and Mallory Hellman, Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project. Afterwards, the group went downtown Iowa City for a Literary Walk. This tour, guided by Rachael Carlson, explores Iowa City’s identity as a UNESCO City of Literature and guides visitors through literary artwork around the city that represent Iowa City’s extensive history of authors. The tour ended at Prairie Lights Bookstore and the visitors had the rest of the afternoon free to explore.


Meeting with writing centers at the Magid Writing Center.

The next morning, the delegation learned more about eastern Iowa writing workshop centers in a virtual meeting. They met Deirdre Egan, who explained the purpose, operations, and strategies used by the University of Iowa Writing Center. They also learned about the Iowa City Public Library's free Community Writing Center workshops and how it serves the community’s needs. Afterwards, the group had the rest of the day free again to explore.


After some time to check out the Iowa City Farmer’s Market in the morning, the group boarded a bus to visit Kalona Historical Village. There, they learned the basic beliefs of the Mennonite faith and visited the Kalona Buggy Shop to discover what goes into custom buggy construction.


Iowa City Literature Walk.

“I loved the cultural activities, especially the Lit Walk and our visit to Kalona Historical Village. In addition, we came to know about diverse communities, Mennonites and Amish. A visit to the Buggy Shop reflects how the community is sticking to the age-old tradition and custom. Wonderful!” wrote participant MD Sadat Zaman Khan.


After a free afternoon to shop and explore the city more, the delegation joined Amy Chastain and Maria Ounap at their residence for an Iowa Table Dinner.


“We had an amazing home hospitality program as offered by Ms. Amy Alice Chastain in her house,” commented participant Dr. Muhammed Alamgir.


The delegation had all of Sunday the 16th free to explore and attend events. Activities suggested to them included the Stanley Museum of Art, the exhibition A Hub, a Network, an Archive: 55 Years of International Writers in Iowa City at the University of Iowa Main Library, and the International Writing Program Sunday Reading Series at Prairie Lights.

Monday was their last full day in Iowa City, which began with a meeting with the University of Iowa Pomerantz Career Center. They met with faculty Allan Boettger, Amanda McFadden, Angi McKie, and Lynne Sebille-White virtually to learn about the career services the center offers and the impact they have on students’ professional journeys.

“The professional appointments [were] very fruitful for two special reasons. First, we came to know how Writing Centers work. Second, how ‘Career Centers’ work. These two experiences will help us [set] up any such centers at our workplaces,” said participant MD Sadat Zaman Khan.


Finally, the group met with Dr. Karen Wachsmuth, Associate Director and Advisor at the University of Iowa (UI) International Programs. Dr. Wachsmuth, who specializes in grant application writing, discussed persuasive writing techniques to help students attain prestigious awards and academic grants. 

Afterwards, the delegation was free for the rest of the day and left for the Des Moines International Airport early the next morning.

“It is an amazing experience for me to be in Iowa City for 6 days. Clean city, good people, good food, and wonderful weather,” wrote Dr. Muhammed Alamgir.

Thank you to the Magid Center for Writing, Young Writers’ Studio, Iowa Youth Writing Project, Rachael Carlson of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, Deirdre Egan, the Pomerantz Center, and Dr. Karen Wachsmuth of UI International Programs for your participation as resources in this program.

We would also like to thank volunteers Ken and Gayle Royar, Arnold Daniels Jr., Steve Merkel-Hess, Katie Ron, Ebenezer Adeyemi, Amy Chastain, and Maria Ounap for helping make this delegation’s time in eastern Iowa special!

“[The volunteers] were wonderful. They conducted a nice job perfectly starting from Cedar Rapids Airport,” wrote Dr. Muhammed Alamgir.

“It was very much a positive experience,” affirmed participant Hossain Al Mamun.

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