Mainus Sultan

As a literacy professional from Bangladesh, my experience with the Center for International Education (CIE) began in 1990 as a participant in the Summer Institute for Literacy Professionals. This introduction to staff and professors led me to enroll with CIE/UMass for a second Masters and later an Ed.D. Upon reflection, my two decades-long engagement with CIE enhanced my adult education skills and also equipped me to serve as an educational professional in countries such as Laos, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and the U.S.


In 2003, I defended my dissertation and, later that week, I headed to Afghanistan where I served as a consultant for a CIE project focused on faculty development at Kabul Education University.  This experience led to additional projects with the Center.  In 2009, I returned to Afghanistan for a year-long assignment to teach Master-level courses, develop curriculum, write bi-lingual educational materials and coach students.  This was a unique opportunity to translate academic knowledge into practice.  Upon return, I began a professional partnership with the Institute for Training and Development (ITD) in Amherst as a senior staff member and worked with ITD for many years as a consultant/Program Director implementing training projects for overseas participants in the U.S. and abroad. 


I consistently drew upon my CIE training for a range of assignments. From 2007-09, I worked as an independent consultant in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique assisting field-based projects on Alternatives to Violence methodologies, conflict resolution and project management. These projects presented opportunities to practice participant observations and phenomenological interviews.


Starting in 2007, I worked as a visiting faculty member at the Institute of Educational Development (IED) in BRAC University in Bangladesh. My various assignments included teaching courses on qualitative research methodology and advising on the implementation of research projects such as natural disaster management and the Rohingya refugees’ lives in transition.


Hollyn Green, my spouse, and I worked in Sierra Leone for the Department of State during the difficult period of the Ebola outbreak 2014 – 2017.  Hollyn was serving at the U.S. Mission as the Public Affairs Officer while I worked as the Special Project Coordinator.  My work was to manage small grants from the Democracy and Human Rights Fund to aid Ebola containment and recovery projects.  The highlights of this experience were visiting 100+ remote villages struggling for self-sufficiency during the two years of a country-wide shut down.


This range of consultancies laid the foundation for my most passionate work - creative writing.  In the past twenty years, I have had 30 books published on themes drawn from experiences in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nicaragua and the United States.  In Bangla, my native language, I have used ethnographic observation and phenomenological interviews to collect first-person narratives.  The resulting storylines were crafted as “travel stories” which is a familiar format and one that appeals to my popular readership.


I’ll mention a few books that were of particular interest to my readers.  My first book on Afghanistan, titled `Kabuler Caravan Sarai’ (Kabul Caravan Sarai) is now in its ninth edition.  A series of episodes presented in this book illustrate the impact of prolonged war on individual and family lives.


For my book titled Zimbabwe: Boba Pathor Salanini. (Zimbabwe: Silent Rock, Salanini), I was honored in 2013 to receive the “Best Book of the Year” award of Bangladesh (right). In Zimbabwe, stone is used as s powerful visual image and is reflected in its arts.  My title refers to a young woman, Salanini, and her personal tragedies against a backdrop of characters on farms and in private homes.  Into this storyline, I added an analysis of Zimbabwe’s socio-political situation.  


Johannesburg JournalMy book on Nicaragua chronicles my experience of living with a farmer’s family during a Spanish language immersion experience.  This up-close setting provided a window to observe daily life and conduct informal interviews which I wove into an analysis of the Sandinista revolution.  In my book on South Africa (left), titled `Johannesburg Journal’, published in 2016, I draw upon observations made while working and traveling in the region for three years, chronicling the stressors of everyday urban life.  


For my contribution to travel literature, I received the Bangla Academy award in 2014.


Recently, I have experimented in new genres.  Drawn from my own parenting experiences, I wrote four travel books for pre-teenagers.  As one example, I greatly enjoyed creating storylines based on visiting spooky haunted houses in four countries.  I have also experimented writing fictional short stories and poems which appear periodically in print magazines and internet journals.


Hollyn and I currently live in Savannah, Georgia.  After so many years outside the U.S, we are delighted that our daughter, Kajori, lives and works in nearby Charleston, South Carolina. [11-22]




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