The 11th annual Central and Southwest Asia Conference comes to the University Center this week. The conference features a series of expert and student panels on a variety of topics centered on an often misinterpreted part of the world.
“This is a critical part of the world for us to understand,” Nathan Domitrovich, program coordinator for Central and Southwest Asian Studies, said. “Arguably, the most critical part of the world. And it’s probably, in America, the most misunderstood part of the world.”
This year marks the first time the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre will be involved in the conference. On Wednesday night, the group will open the conference with a dance called “Montana in the Year of the Snake,” in honor of visiting speakers from China. Then, on Thursday, the Ballet will perform “To Russia With Love,” for Russian guest speakers.
“We’re going to have an artistic component to our conference, but we’re also going to have lots of presentations and panels,” Domitrovich said.
The three-day conference is made up predominately of panels and presentations. The topics of conversation will range from Chinese and Russian foreign policy to continuation of the Arab spring.
Sisu Pan, visiting scholar from the Peoples Republic of China, said that it is important for people in America to better understand the history and cultures of places beyond our borders, especially in terms of foreign policy.
“Normally when we are talking about foreign policy, we view the world from America’s point of view,” Pan said, adding that the world is not always what pop culture and politicians say it is.
Pan and Domitrovich both hope that the community comes to the conference with an open mind, and leave with a better understanding of the world as a whole.
“After this conference I hope that when we watch the TV news reports we will realize that sometimes maybe Russia and China are not as arrogant as they are portrayed,” Pan said.
The conference begins at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 in the UC Theater, and continues through Friday, April 19. It is free and open to the public.