posted October 3, 2005

Annual Muste Lecture Will Be Oct. 13

The annual A. J. Muste Memorial Lecture at Hope College will be delivered this year by an alumnus who devotes his career to promoting public health worldwide.

Jalaa' Abdelwahab, a member of the college's Class of 1997, will speak on the topic "Palestine, Polio, and Peace" on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. in room 102 of VanderWerf Hall.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Born in Ramallah on the West Bank of the Jordan, Abdelwahab is currently an officer in the World Health Organization's Polio Eradication Program, directing immunization campaigns throughout the Middle East and Africa. From 2000 to 2003 he served with the Global Immunization Division of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Eastern Mediterranean and African Regional Offices of the World Health Organization, and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry in Atlanta, Ga.

He has also worked as a project coordinator with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Dearborn; as an intern with the University of Michigan School of Public Health; as a consultant with the Center for Primary Health Care Development in Palestine; and as an intern with the Institute of Community and Public Health of BirZiet University in Palestine. He has published widely on epidemiology and other health-related issues. He is also a published poet.

Professor Kathy Winnett-Murray of Hope's biology faculty remembers Abdelwahab's "insatiable interest in learning anything and everything about animals" and his "real knack at synthesizing how vertebrate bodies were put together."

"I suspect that the ability to discern small details that make a big difference in people's lives is one of the things Jalaa' may be doing a lot of, in much bigger ways, in his current work," Winnett-Murray said. "I am delighted that Jalaa', who once presented a challenge of excellence in my classes, is returning to Hope College to offer a challenge of excellence to the entire Hope community."

The A. J. Muste Lecture began in 1985 to commemorate the hundredth birthday of Abraham Johannes Muste (1885-1967), a 1905 graduate of Hope College who became a word-famous advocate for social justice and international peace. Muste, an ordained minister of the Reformed Church in America, became a pacifist at the outbreak of World War I and then began working with the fledgling American Civil Liberties Union. During the 1920s he served as chair of the religious pacifist organization the Fellowship of Reconciliation, becoming executive secretary of the organization in 1940. Tirelessly active, Muste was instrumental in the formation of the Congress on Racial Equality in the 1960s. He demonstrated against the war in Vietnam and in 1966 met with the North Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh.

According to Donald Cronkite, professor of biology and standing chair of the A. J. Muste Lecture Committee, Muste lecturers have included "theologians, peace activists, labor organizers, prison reformers, and other people, both well known and obscure, who display the spirit of A. J. Muste."

This year's Muste Lecture is funded by the Muste Memorial Committee, the Martha Miller Center Dedication Committee, the Office of International Education, and the departments of biology, English, and religion at Hope College.

VanderWerf Hall is located on the south side of 10th Street between Central and College avenues.