To ‘heal and bridge divides’ – Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s timely book can help transform trauma

Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma City – Professor Nyla Ali Khan continues her labor of love in promotion of her newest book, a fusion of personal reflections with academic in insights on youth trauma around the world, with  particular focus on events in South Africa, her native Kashmir and other world “hot spots.” 

The book’s title distills its provocative content: “Educational Strategies for Youth Empowerment in Conflict Zones: Transforming, not Transmitting, Trauma” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). It is available both in hard cover and digital format. 

Dr. Nyla has become hopeful the book will be used at Oklahoma colleges and universities. An upcoming event is an evening reception in Oklahoma City on Thursday, July 1, co-hosted by Lance and Cindy Ruffel.  
For information on the July 1 event, a by-invitation-only evening gathering, please contact Pat Carr through this email address:  

The City Sentinel reported previously on a gathering of book lovers, old friends and new, who met with Dr. Khan at Edmond’s Commonplace Books in late May for a time of substantive discussion and examination of sources of trauma and challenge around the world.  
That gathering provoked spirited exchanges and lasting memories, despite the stormy Oklahoma weather that came sweeping through the north Oklahoma City area during the evening. 

Last week, Dr. Khan participated in one of the national series of “Building Bridges” virtual conferences – this one based at the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO in Chickasha).  In comments shared with The City Sentinel, Dr. Nyla explained: 
“My purpose was to call attention to non-Western societies that are fractured and traumatized, and that will continue to sabotage themselves unless they actively engage in the process of healing. 
“It was also my purpose to employ the strategy of comparison between traumatic histories in order to forge links among those histories that would raise the historical consciousnesses of peoples and promote their sense of civic responsibility.”
It is her conviction “a holistic education is not merely about the memorization of facts, data, and statistics, but is personally meaningful, socially relevant, culturally accurate, pedagogically sound, and politically responsible.” 

One of the other participants at the USAO virtual event, Dr. Noel Jacobs, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at OU Health Sciences Center. A licensed health service psychologist in the section of General and Community Pediatrics, he works with patients with a range of chronic conditions. 

In his review of Dr. Nyla’s book, posted by the Amazon book sellers division, Dr, Jacobs wrote:
“Investing in a child’s developing mind is a crucial undertaking in our world, as all humanity will soon depend on today’s youth. Parents, schools, communities, and nations often see the future payoff of their young citizens economically or politically. When they under-nourish or completely avoid the necessary fostering of their critical thinking, agency, and connectedness to the world around them, a paramount set of skills can be lost in those youth. 

“This book, therefore, is of critical importance. Dr. Khan has lived, learned, and written about complex social considerations in societies fraught with internal and external pressures as well as histories of dehumanization of ‘the other.’ She brings all her knowledge and previous work to the table. The world must no longer be divided into East and West, good and bad, developed and undeveloped, ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Media and political rhetoric may promote that harmful thinking, as our increasing connectedness via technology can be used to further divide and foment conflict. But the ceaseless work of experts like Dr. Khan can help our future leaders heal and bridge divides. This book contains necessary background and concrete steps toward engagement and civic building through proven methods like story-telling and comparative learning. 

“It is a must read for those who believe, as I do, that we have everything we need for a better, more equitable, and peaceful world tomorrow in our youth, who are worth every effort to nurture.”
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Dr. Khan’s book may also be ordered through these fine book stores: Barnes & Noble (national), Commonplace Books Edmond and Full Circle Bookstore (Oklahoma City’s 50 Penn Place).