For the Daily News
On Monday, August 30 at 7 p.m. at the Starkville Public Library, Starkville Reads will present a program on the culture, history, and geography of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two settings of Greg Mortenson’s best seller Three Cups of Tea.
Given by Shaz Akram, a native of Pakistan who is the Assistant Director of MSU’s Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, her presentation will offer an in-depth look at these two countries. She will show photos of the countries with Powerpoint during her discussion, which will also feature authentic clothing, a typical Pakistani dance performed in native costumes, and a display of dolls and artifacts. Following the presentation, there will be a question and answer session.
A Nigerian-born Pakistani, Akram has a B.A. degree in Economics and French and an M.A. degree in English Literature from Kinnaird College for Women in Pakistan as well as an M.B.A. with a minor in Finance from Mississippi State University. Prior to becoming the Assistant Director of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, she served as the MSU International Student Program Coordinator and earlier as a Student Exchange Visitor Information System Specialist in the MSU International Services Office. From 1995 to 2002, she worked in the Office of the Accountant General in the Department of Audit and Accounts in Pakistan. Earlier, she was an English teacher at Lahore College of Arts and Sciences and a regular contributor to the quarterly The Republic.
She has won a number of awards at MSU for her work in Student Affairs, including the 2006 Newcomer of the Year Award, and in 2010 she received the Minority Staff Diversity Award for her commitment to promoting diversity within the MSU community from the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
She speaks five languages—English, French, Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi.
According to Nancy Hargrove, President of Starkville Reads, this program, which is free of charge and open to the public, will be entertaining as well as enlightening and will serve as an excellent introduction to two cultures different from our own: “Shaz Akram is a delightful speaker who will provide excellent insights to those who have already read or plan to read Three Cups of Tea. It will also be wonderful preparation for the next Starkville Reads program, a discussion of the book itself led by MSU English professor Dr. Michael Kardos on September 14 at 7 p.m. at the Starkville Public Library, for other associated programs on the MSU campus, and for the appearance of the book’s author Greg Mortenson at Humphrey Coliseum on September 23 at 7 p.m., the grand climax of the joint campus and community reading experience for Fall 2010.”
Starkville Reads is a nonprofit, all volunteer organization whose goal is to promote reading and books in the Starkville Community in a variety of ways, including providing books to schools and libraries, giving small grants to public school teachers for reading projects, and offering programs such as those mentioned in this article. Those wishing to make contributions may mail them to Starkville Reads. P.O. Box 80100, Starkville, MS 39759. Go to the website at http://www.starkvillereads.org  for further information about all Starkville Reads programs this fall.