On the occasional lists of dangerous jobs, university professors aren’t even an afterthought. But this summer, when Dean Cortes went to teach, he wore a Kevlar vest and rode in a caravan with well-armed South African guards.
Cortes, professor and chair of the Department of Economics, Finance and Banking in the Kelce College of Business, spent a month teaching business professors in Iraq. He was a participant in a project sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that is designed to help Iraqi business schools rebuild and update both their facilities and curriculum.
Cortes developed five days of workshops focused on financial curriculum and teaching methods. The workshops took place at Al Mansour University where professors from several universities gathered.
“We always traveled by convoy,” Cortes said. “We were accompanied by South African and Iraqi security forces. We were in the middle in a huge bullet-proof van, like a Suburban, and I wore a Kevlar vest.”
Once in the safety of the classroom, Cortes was on familiar ground. With the help of simultaneous translation, he walked the professors through the course of study he had planned.
The entire experience was rewarding for Cortes and he hopes in some small way that he has helped the rebuilding process along.
“It’s a nice start. I think I’ve created a good starting point and a good relationship, not just with USAID, but also with these universities. I think it’s a big win for us to pursue these relationships,” Cortes said. “It was a different experience. I think we are contributing to the rebuilding of a nation and it’s a good feeling.”