ATHENS, Ohio (May 5, 2004) -- Barbara Masekela, South Africa's ambassador to the United States, will be the keynote speaker for this year's International Week, which will be held May 9-15. Masekela will speak about "South Africa: 10 Years of Democracy" at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 10 in Irvine Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception at Irvine Hall.
"During International Week, we can listen to the wisdom of international scholars, sing, dance and enjoy the colors, foods and artifacts of the world," said Alan Boyd, director of International Student and Faculty Services at Ohio University. "This year is especially exciting because we expect many of our international alumni to come to join in the celebration."
Masekela, an Ohio University graduate, spent many years in exile in the United States during the liberation struggle in South Africa against apartheid rule. She first studied and later taught English at the university level, as assistant professor of English literature at Staten Island Community College in New York and Rutgers University in New Jersey. After her academic career, Masekela founded the African National Congress Office of Arts and Culture and served as its secretary for seven years. After the release of Nelson Mandela, Masekela joined his office as chief of staff, a position she held until 1994. During that time, Masekela was elected to the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress and to its National Working Committee.
President Mandela appointed Masekela ambassador to the Republic of France as well as ambassador to UNESCO in 1995. When Masekela returned to South Africa in 1999, she became a director of the Standard Bank of South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the International Marketing Council, among others. During this time, Masekela also became a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. She retired in March 2003 as executive director for Public and Corporate Affairs for De Beers Consolidated Mines. President Mbeki appointed Masekela ambassador to the United States of America in June 2003. A published poet herself, Ambassador Masekela is the sister of jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
This year's International Week will focus on the theme "International Reunion" because it coincides with Ohio University's first-ever International Alumni and Friends Reunion. The week concludes with the 23rd Annual International Street Fair on Court Street from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 15. The fair provides an opportunity for the community to enjoy the music, food and art of many international cultures.
"International Week and the street fair offer a unique opportunity for the university, the city of Athens and our students and scholars from countries throughout the world to gather together to celebrate our lives and our cultures," said Boyd.
An international dance party will be held in conjunction with the International Reunion at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 in the Baker Center Ballroom. The dance will feature upbeat music from all over the world and is open the public. Admission is $5.
International Week is an annual series of events sponsored by the International Student Union with the support of International Student and Faculty Services, the Center for International Studies, the Ohio Program of Intensive English, Education Abroad, Student Activities and the City of Athens. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/intlweek.
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