The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    Professor of the Week:

    Fernandez embraces diversity

    For Purba Fernandez, education is one of the best ways to understand that the world is a diverse place.

    Fernandez is open and friendly like a student, not a professor. She is, however, the head of the geography department. Fernandez has taughtphysical and cultural geography at De Anza College for 10 years. What she considers one of the most important subjects to teach is the similarities and differences of the people on the Earth.

    “Today, after having much better opportunities for communication and travel, we can see more clearly than in the past, that we all share commonalities while remaining different; therefore, we have to learn to embrace both similarities and differences,” she says.

    Because she has students of different ethnic backgrounds in her classes, she organizes classroom discussions based on the students’ ancestry and immigration experiences. Students are asked to find their places of origin on a map. “That’s a good exercise to realize that people all over the world do share common values,” Fernandez said.

    Story continues below advertisement

    However, civil wars and ethnic conflicts are also part of today’s physical and cultural geography she says, and these must be addressed as well. Sometimes her students clash during classroom discussions over territorial disputes or religious controversies.

    Fernandez was born in India and is concerned in a more personal way about one such conflict. Namely, the clash between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, where some people are Hindi and the others are Muslims. This awareness motivates her teaching, ash she believes knowledge about the conflicts’ backgrounds can help resolve them.

    “I believe that education and the setup in the classroom is one of the best places to explore through discourse and dialogue, the differences and grievances among the nations. Just talk to each other and try to understand where those grievances came from. That’s what this course about – how to debate, and even how to disagree. We cannot agree on everything, but often through discussion we can come to a compromise when a compromise is necessary.” Fernandez said.

    She moved to the United States almost 20 years ago. She experienced a language barrier, but says it wasn’t too hard for her to adjust to American culture. The university where she studied in the United States was small and didn’t have a big community of international students, so she had learned the culture as quickly so she could communicate with her classmates.

    One of the main reasons people immigrate to the United States. were opportunities for business and education, she says. “People still are looking to America with hope, they view it as a land of big opportunities. But at the same time, we have to acknowledge that today people around the world are more, than in the past, aware of some weaknesses of the American culture and society. Today people have a better sense of what to expect in America and how to cope with difficulties and prejudices.” 

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    La Voz Weekly intends this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments should be respectful and constructive. We do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or language that might be interpreted as defamatory. La Voz does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid name and email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comment.
    All La Voz News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest