As Carl and Carolyn Caldwell prepare for a move to the other side of the world, they plan to take with them an English Book of Common Prayer, a Bible and hair care tips.
The couple is retiring from Anderson University; he as vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college, she as an accounting professor with the Falls School of Business.
They’re making a life-altering change to teach for one year at American University of Iraq in Sulaimani in the northern part of the Muslim country.
Carolyn has short hair and wasn’t sure how Iraqi salons might treat her for the next year.
“We actually talked about that,” said Carolyn, looking to her husband.
He added, “I’m going with her to her beautician and saying, ‘Tell me how you do that.’”
They expect, and hope, other lifestyle shifts will occur while teaching the mostly Kurdish students at a two-year-old facility where English is spoken.
Carl, who has been to the Middle East, will teach history.
Besides security, Carl said he worried about possible constraints on Carolyn’s day-to-day activities.
“Having been in the more conservative Gulf Arab states, I did not want my wife put into a situation having to live with restrictions like wearing a head covering every time she went out or any of those kinds of things,” said Carl, 64.
“They assured that would not be a problem, that they’re an open enough society that you don’t have to dress conservatively like you used to other than the obvious. You don’t wear shorts. You don’t wear short-sleeved shirts. That true even for men. That’s not just for women. As long as you’re reasonably modest,” said Carl.
Carolyn, 65, will teach international accounting principles and assist the university in preparing a procedure manual. As with her husband, she will select textbooks for her classes.
“They want an American education, which makes it a whole lot easier for me because I don’t have to refigure and think about international laws,” she said.
“Accounting is a language, it really is. I have a bit of a concern that I need to really pick carefully the text I use so that students aren’t overwhelmed with the terminology,” she said.
Both Caldwells acknowledge sensitivity toward learning the language. The campus body is a mix, primarily Kurdish with some Arabic students.
In its short two years, American University has grown from 50 students to about 200 last year. Primarily a commuter college, an American-styled liberal arts education is offered in a coeducational setting. The Caldwells will live in a condominium.
University Provost Joshua Mitchell, in an e-mail to The Herald Bulletin, said, “We look forward to Dr. Carl Caldwell and his wife, Carolyn, joining us at The American University of Iraq at Sulaimani this coming year. Carl’s many years teaching courses in the liberal arts, and his many years in Higher Administration, uniquely prepare him to help us build the first Liberal Arts University in Iraq.
“We are pleased, as well, that Carolyn will be teaching in our Business program. Together they will help educate a generation of Iraqis who intend to build their country and help bring peace to the Region.”
“Carl is a real adventurer, quite the contrast from his public demeanor,” said Dr. James Edwards, president of Anderson University. “He really looks the part of the academic, but underneath is a fearless guy who rides motorcycles, repairs cars, wanders the world and loves to take others on the adventures that all lead to learning.
“I know that the Caldwells will have a huge impact on the work there in Iraq. Carolyn is a remarkable and gregarious teacher who serves with special creativity and relational strengths, and will just love the people in her new environment. There will be fascinating stories to tell when they return,” Edwards said.
The parents of two with four grandchildren, the Caldwells attend Park Place Church of God and plan to keep in touch with the congregation through a Web blog.
Carl Caldwell learned of the American University opening through an e-mail appeal for professors. He and his wife met with college officials in Washington, D.C., and were offered posts. They plan to return for their retirement in Anderson in June 2010.
Both said they hope the experience will broaden their knowledge of their own Christian faith.
Carolyn recalled her visit to Rome in 1963 during the election of Pope Paul VI.
“I felt so much more open in my faith than before having that experience, which I think is good to be more accepting, and I would hope this experience would do that ten-fold, to have a better appreciation for other people and other people’s faith,” she said.
Carl likened his feelings to those of Anderson University students and faculty when they take cross-cultural classes through TRI-S (Study, Serve, Share) in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and other foreign areas.
“Inevitably they come back and they say ‘I went over there thinking I was going to help them build a church or paint a school or something of that sort but what I learned along the way, what I didn’t know at all, was we were dealing with people who have nothing but who are happier than the folks I hang around with over here. I’ve learned to appreciate the culture,’” he said.
“That’s my great hope, to enrich my knowledge, get a feel for the area, the politics. I’m hoping I can make arrangements to talk with people, local folks outside the school and just ask questions as long as they understand I’m not trying to pry into private things.”
—Scott L. Miley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.