Mir Arif


Portrait of Mir Arif inside the COTC Pataskala campus.

Inspiration comes from everywhere, which is certainly the case for Mir Arif, adjunct English faculty at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC).

Arif didn’t start his educational journey with sights set on teaching – or even English. His original major at the University of Dhaka was in international relations. “I felt like it didn’t satisfy my inner needs, my desires and passions,” Arif explains. He then switched to journalism, writing for English newspapers while still in Bangladesh. “I realized that I loved writing, and I’ve always loved reading. I felt the passion come back to me.”

Other writers suggested that Arif pursue his master’s degree in creative writing, and in 2019 he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, to do just that. “I had the idea that, oh, I need to write, and I need to create something that will bring my life joy.”

Beginning his teaching career

Arif’s teaching career began as a requirement of his MFA program. “I wasn’t into teaching originally,” he says. “My first semester wasn’t that great. I had this imposter syndrome. Like, ‘What am I even doing here?’”

Despite his reservations, he quickly found both professional and creative fulfillment in teaching. “I realized there’s something in teaching, in that interaction. It’s not just the instructor sharing things – you get ideas from your students,” Arif enthuses. “It’s another form of human interaction that gives me a lot of ideas and keeps me going with this sense of creativity. I realized that setting is important for a writer. We always seek to communicate and get ideas and stories from other people to enrich our writing process.”

Arif’s first postgraduate teaching job was in Texas before eventually moving to Ohio. He began teaching at COTC at the beginning of the spring term. “I think the most important thing I learned from students is this idea of tenacity,” he says. “These students from all generations and backgrounds tell me their stories, and the underlying theme is that they’re tenacious people. They want to get ahead in life and achieve their goals, the things they deserve.”

What makes COTC unique

Arif is adjunct faculty at another community college in Ohio as well as an online university. What makes COTC unique, he says, is targeted education. “Not a lot of colleges provide targeted education, targeting the industry with these associate degrees. Not with the flexibility of finishing in two years.” He continues, “This provides students a lot more options, more hands-on experiences, in many cases.”

Outside of the classroom, Arif is an avid and accomplished writer. His short essay, “The first American months,” was recently published in The Daily Star. The essay documents his experience coming to the United States for graduate school. He was inspired to write the essay after talking with his students, many of whom were going through a similar experience.

Arif’s writing tends to gravitate towards fiction. He’s been published in several places, including the Los Angeles Review and Sierra Nevada Review, with one of his stories to be featured in an upcoming edition of the Tahoma Literary Review. Currently, he’s working on getting his short story collection Adrift published. He’s also finishing the second draft of his novel. Additionally, Arif is an avid reader, citing Beloved by Toni Morrison, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam as some of his favorite novels.

“Follow your dreams, follow your passions,” Arif advises students. “I was hesitant at some points in my life, whether I’d be able to be a writer or not,” he says. “You know you’re going to go through challenges, but you know you’ll make it eventually if you have the passion and desire. Dreams never die, so keep dreaming, keep desiring.”