Intercultural Reading – Discovery of Unknown World Explorers

Kompass mit eingraviertem Gedicht (Wikmedia Commons)

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

“Unknown world explorers” is the theme of our next intercultural book club meeting on Sept. 7 at Bonn’s Central Library (youth library). The multilingual reading –with multimedia story telling– is free of charge and everyone is warmly welcome!

When we hear the word ‘explorer’, most of us think of Columbus, Marco Polo, Magellan or Humbodt. But European men were not the only ones discovering and mapping out the world. That’s why we’d like to highlight in our reading female adventurers and non-European explorers, such as Ibn Battuta, Admad Ibn Fadlan, Zheng He, Mansa Abubakari II, Nellie Bly or Getrude Bell.

Muhammad Ibn Battuta (1304 – 1368 or 1369) was a Medieval Moroccan Muslim scholar and one of the greatest travelers of all time. He’s known for his extensive travels, accounts of which were published in the Rihla (lit. “Journey”). Over a period of thirty years, he visited most of the known Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands. On this website you can take a virtual tour with the 14th century explorer.

The travels of Ibn Battuta.
The travels of Ibn Battuta.

In the early 20th century, British writer and archeaologist Gertrude Bell also traveled extensively through the Middle East and Asia. Bell was fluent in Arabic and Farsi and also worked as a spy and political officer. She met T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) while working in the Arab Bureau in Cairo during World War I. Called the “Queen of the Desert”, she became highly influential to British imperial policy-making and played a major role in shaping the modern state of Iraq. Bell made Baghdad her permanent home and helped to establish the National Museum, maintaining that Iraq had the right to own its past.

In this article you can learn more about Gertrude Bell and 21 other amazing female explorers you’ve probably never heard about.

The poem on the compass is Robert Frost’s famous travel poem “The  Road Not Taken”.

The intercultural Bonnections book club meets every first Wednesday of the month at 6 pm (18h) at the Central Library (Mülheimer Platz 1, 53111 Bonn).


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