Rami Abdoch graduated cum laude with honors research from Rhodes College in 2011 with a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology, also receiving the Frances and Edwina Hickman award in the department. He studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo and Qasid Institute in Amman as a Buckman scholar during the spring and summer of 2010. He continued studying Arabic his senior year, focusing on translating news articles from Arabic to English. His newfound interest in the region led him to complete his honors thesis "Essentializing Muslim Identity,” and a research presentation “Deconstructing Islamophobia,” both utilizing Weberian and Gadamerian theoretical concepts. Rami continued studying Arabic intensively from 2012 to 2013 in Beirut, engaging in classical Arabic poetry, rhetoric, literature, grammar, and morphology, among other subjects. He has also been teaching Arabic as a private tutor for the past two years. His research interests include social theory in the context of Islamist movements, teaching Arabic as a foreign language, and Arabic linguistics.
Ethan graduated summa cum laude from Colby College in 2007, having majored in French Studies. He received an MA in French literature from Middlebury College in 2008, with a focus on Francophone Studies and wrote his master’s thesis on Cameroonian literature. He then taught French at the Pomfret School in Connecticut for two years before beginning a PhD in French studies at the University of Wisconsin. His goal was initially to learn more about the diverse literatures and cultures of the Francophone world, and particularly, the Maghreb. However, his academic focus rapidly gravitated towards the MENA region and Arabic language. Ethan attended Middlebury's Summer Arabic Language School in 2012 and subsequently moved to Meknes, Morocco, where he resided and worked for three years. He is now prepared to pursue his studies with a focus on the region’s politics. Ethan worked as an administrator and faculty member at the AALIM Institute from 2013-2015 and twice had the opportunity to teach Arabic in the institute’s intensive summer programs, in addition to teaching English and French during the academic year. Ethan is originally from the greater Boston area.
Hadeil Ali graduated summa cum laude from Drury University in 2016 majoring in International Political Science and Communication Studies. She grew up in Egypt, Bahrain, and Qatar which developed her personal and research interest in the Middle East. She speaks Arabic, French, and Spanish. Hadeil was a student-athlete competing on her undergraduate school's tennis team for four years. She interned at the Arab Research Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar as a research assistant working on the Arab Opinion Index. For her undergraduate thesis, she analyzed first page articles in three prominent US newspapers to look at the media's role in shaping attitudes about Islam. At Georgetown, she plans on concentrating on Culture and Society in the hopes of working for the UNESCO in the future. Her research interest focuses on Islamphobia, the future of the Islam in the Middle East, and the US policy in the MENA region. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with friends, and playing sports.
Brenda Lucia Andere-Palomino graduated summa cum laude from Florida International University Honors College in 2015 and was awarded the Academic Excellence Award upon graduating. She earned her B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Political Science. She received certificates in Middle Eastern and Central Asian studies and National Security studies. During her time at FIU she conducted research for the U.S. Department of State through the Diplomacy Lab on closing and closed spaces with particular emphasize on Egypt’s government as a closing space and the impact of these characteristics on conflict and instability within the state. In 2014 Brenda traveled to Lebanon as a participant of the Back to Roots program for Lebanese descendants. Upon returning to Miami she served as an ambassador for BTR in the Unites States. In the summer of 2015, Brenda attended the University of Jordan as an FIU Ambassador Scholar to study Arabic and participate in research on the impact on Jordanian society of the inclusivity of women in the work force.
Sopanit Angsusingha or Dede graduated cum laude from the University of California Los Angeles with a B.A. in History and a minor in Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dede is a recipient of the Office of Higher Education Commission scholarship through the Royal Thai Government to pursue her Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern history in the USA. After graduation, she will return to Thailand to teach Middle Eastern history at Thammasat University. In 2015, she received the UCLA Undergraduate Research Fellows Program scholarship to conduct research on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s impact on the Islamic State’s ideologies and strategies. Her internship experiences at the Middle East division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand and the UCLA Center for Middle East Development inspired her to conduct independent research on the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya and its implications on the administration’s policies in Syria’s civil war. In summer 2016, she was a research assistant at the Muslims Studies Center, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand where she wrote articles on the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the formation of the modern Middle Eastern states during the Western imperialism period, and the impact of JCPOA on Iran’s energy policy. At MAAS, she is concentrating in history to focus her studies on the Islamist movements and the Arab youth mobilization in the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab uprisings.
Hady Aoshima is a Japanese diplomat specializing in the Middle East region. Hady majored in modern Japanese history and international law, with a focus on armed conflict management at Kyoto University. In 2012, he joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry and spent two years at the Tokyo headquarters, where he dealt with Japan’s foreign policies towards Middle Eastern countries. From 2014 to 2016, he had been taking an intensive Arabic language training at The American University in Cairo. He also attended two summer schools, namely The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford to deepen his understanding of some key countries in the Middle East. During the two years in Egypt, he also enjoyed travelling, scuba diving in the Red Sea and playing the Oud. After completing MAAS program, he will be posted to a Japanese embassy in one of the Arab countries.
Born to Palestinian immigrant parents, Samah Asfour tailored her educational and career goals to reflect her Arab identity. At the University of Buffalo, Samah majored in Political Science and Global Gender Studies and minored in French. To advance her language skills, Samah studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France. While there, she began conducting research for her honors thesis topic on the discrimination against Muslim women in France and their counter-public spheres. Dedicated to alleviating poverty in the developing world, Samah co-founded an organization on campus under the mission to promote female education as a tool of empowerment. After graduating magna cum laude in May 2015, Samah embarked on a Fulbright assignment in Amman, Jordan where she lectured at Jordan Applied University. During her year teaching business English and tourism English courses, Samah found time to improve her Modern Standard Arabic by taking classes at both the Qasid Institute and Ahlan Jordan. Samah volunteered with Madrasati, A Queen Rania Initiative, where she created and implemented interactive English games for elementary education. As the first recipient of the Nina Brekelmans Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Samah plans to concentrate her graduate work on women and gender in the MENA region. She hopes to gain more knowledge on Arab-American identity, Islamic feminism, and women’s roles in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Casey Bahr graduated from Brigham Young University in 2013 majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic and minoring in International Development. She studied at the BYU Jerusalem Center in 2010, where she had her first foray into the Middle East after starting the major nearly two years beforehand. She cultivated her international development interest with an internship with the NGO Help International in Hyderabad, India in 2011. After returning to the U.S., she focused on her studies while gaining experience with refugees through volunteer work with an Iraqi couple through the International Rescue Committee. Her most recent experience abroad was doing an intensive Arabic immersion study with BYU in Amman, Jordan in the fall of 2012 for which she was a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State. While there, she came to know and love the city in addition to participating in various activities such as tutoring at an orphanage and working with the Jordanian Ministry of Health and LDS Humanitarian Services on a health campaign for Syrian refugees and country health officials. At Georgetown, she plans on concentrating in International Development in the hopes of working for an NGO or USAID in the future. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, visiting museums, traveling, playing with her puppy, and spoiling her nephew.
Skylar Benedict graduated magna cum laude in 2015 from the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University with a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences, a major concentration in anthropology, and a minor concentration in Arabic. Upon graduating, Skylar was named Outstanding Scholar of the class of 2015 and received related honors for his senior thesis, which focused on the importance of sacred spaces in the formation of Muslim communal identity in the north Indian region of Ladakh. Skylar studied Arabic both at his home university and abroad through the Critical Language Scholarship in Tunisia in 2012 and briefly through AMIDEAST Education Abroad in Cairo, Egypt during the summer of 2013. Although cut short by the Egyptian revolution of 2013, Skylar’s stay in Egypt and volunteer work as a researcher for Refugees United for Peaceful Solutions (RUPS), aroused in him a curiosity about the effect of the ideas of citizenship and national identity on the distribution of resources for refugee communities in the Arab world. During his time in the MA in Arab Studies program, Skylar plans to continue his anthropological education by concentrating on culture and society of the Arab world while using the MAAS program’s resources to diversify both his disciplinary leanings and knowledge of Middle Eastern languages. While not focused on his studies, Skylar enjoy sailing, hiking, reading, learning languages, and also aspires to expand his experience with the cooking and music of the Arab world.
Mark Berlin graduated cum laude from Elon University in 2013 with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Middle East Studies and International Studies. In addition to his studies at Elon, Mark played Division-1 soccer and was a four-year letter-winner and starter on a top-25 team that made three NCAA appearances during his collegiate career. After graduating from Elon, he accepted a volunteer position and traveled to the West Bank in order to teach English to Palestinians in Hebron and Dura village. Following his time in the West Bank, Mark spent a year in Jerusalem studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian politics, and the multifaceted importance of Jerusalem in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Over the course of his four years as an Arabic student, Mark has studied the language intensively in Muscat, Rabat, Amman, and Beirut. While at MAAS, he plans to concentrate on the politics of the Arab world. Specifically, his research interests center on Lebanese politics, Shi'i political movements, religious identity, and the Israeli-Arab conflict. During his free time, he enjoys watching sports, attempting to cook, hanging out with friends, and traveling.
Kristina graduated summa cum laude from New York University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism and Hellenic Studies and a minor in Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies. She developed an interest in the Arab world after she spent five months studying abroad at NYU Abu Dhabi in 2013. While in the UAE, she helped develop the first independent, student-run online publication in the Emirates. Kristina returned to the Middle East in the summer of 2014, studying Arabic in Meknes, Morocco, as a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholar. For her undergraduate thesis, she interviewed Syrian refugees in Athens, Greece, to examine the deficiencies in Greece's asylum system. She has interned in the MENA division at Human Rights Watch, where she worked on human rights issues in the Gulf countries. Kristina is originally from Tampa, Florida, and speaks Greek in addition to Arabic. Her research interests include labor rights in the Gulf, international migration, Gulf politics, human rights, and refugees in the Arab world.
Born and raised in Parkersburg, West Virginia, Nicholas graduated summa cum laude with Honors from Ohio University in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science and Global Studies. Nicholas was heavily involved in his university’s international community throughout his undergraduate education, eventually serving as the Programming Director for the Ohio University International Student Union. During his final year at OU, Nicholas authored an honors thesis on the emergence of Salafist parties in post-Arab Uprising politics and was named the 2015 Outstanding Political Science Senior. Studying Arabic since the beginning of his freshman year, Nicholas received the Gilman International Scholarship to study Arabic and Middle East politics in Amman, Jordan in 2013 and the Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco in 2014. Professionally, Nicholas served as the Sara K. Ullman Memorial Intern with Amnesty International in 2013, a George Washington Forum Undergraduate Research Assistant in 2012, and the West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky Regional Coordinator for the National History Bee and Bowl in 2011-2012. Continuing his specialization in Politics at Georgetown, his current research interests include Islamist social movements, state-building and identity formation, and regime-led political reform in Jordan.
Neriman graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University in 2015 majoring in Politics and Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. During her time at Brandeis, she was a writer and editor for the international journal. She interned at think tanks in Turkey for two summers, where she witnessed the changing political landscape of the country. Her honors’ thesis focused on Turkey’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran after the Iranian revolution. She is interested in furthering her knowledge on the security dynamics within the region. She is particularly interested in understanding how certain radical ideologies are enmeshed within political and social structures, and whether the appeal of radical ideologies is connected to systemic factors, such as the tradition of authoritarianism and the lack of rule of law and democracy, or to material factors, such as poverty and education. She is Turkish by birth and a Texan at heart.
Samuel became interested in the Middle East after traveling to Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Turkey following two years of military service in Singapore. It was during this trip that he realized everything he knew about the region was wrong and was curious to know why. After (narrowly) graduating from the University of Oxford, Samuel went to Amman to work on his Arabic prior to embarking on the MA Arab Studies at Georgetown. In between his very Singaporean pastime of eating everything and anything in impolite quantities, he enjoys collecting injuries through sports like rugby and judo.
Agathe was born and raised in Brittany, France. Her interest in world affairs, and especially in the Middle East, led her to study International Relations and Arabic at Sciences Po Lyon and Georgetown University during her undergraduate studies. At Sciences Po Lyon, she completed a Certificate in Contemporary Arab studies that deepened her interest in the region. Then, she traveled to Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine for language study and research internships. Agathe also interned at the French Research Center in Jerusalem to complete her Sciences Po Lyon thesis about Hamas’ online discourse and communication strategies. Agathe has also been involved in volunteering programs with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in France. She has volunteered for Caritas France by organizing an integration program for refugee families in a French rural area. Refugee integration, forced migration, and conflict management in the Middle East are Agathe’s areas of interests that she hopes to tackle as a MAAS student.
Michael Cohen graduated magna cum laude from the College of William and Mary in 2011 with a dual major in Government and Area Studies, concentrating in the Middle East. Michael spent a semester studying Modern Standard Arabic at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan and in 2010 received a Tang Scholarship for summer research on an analysis of governance, security, and integration in the aftermath of the al-Anbar Awakening. In 2011 he conducted independent research on the genre of Arabic wine poetry, to include translations of poetry from Jahili, Abbasid, and Andalusi eras. In May 2012, Cohen earned his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army (Signal Corps) where he served for 3+ years on active duty, including a tour at Camp Hovey, South Korea where he worked as a platoon leader. He recently finished his time in service and is interested in researching tribe-state relations, Arabic poetry, and perceptions of governance and corruption in the Arab world. Michael's hobbies include running, camping, and piano.
Sage Cunningham is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and was the number one cadet in both his majors and minor, Geospatial Science, Foreign Area Studies (Middle Eastern concentration) and Arabic minor. While at the Academy, he spent his fall 2014 semester in Meknes, Morocco, taking courses at Moulay Ismail University, where he fell in love with the Arabic language. The following summer he spent three weeks in Israel, working with IDF soldiers in Israel as part of the JINSA Military Academies program. Most recently, as a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship, he lived for two months in Madaba, Jordan. He has completed research on the commercialization of Mecca, mapping the Mosul Dam in Iraq, and the impact of instability on cultivated land area along the Euphrates River in Syria. His capstone team was individually selected to brief the Director of National Intelligence on China's presence in South Sudan. Following Georgetown, he will be attending Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training in Texas and will be continuing with Arabic as a member of Air Force's Language Enabled Airman Program. Sage, a native-Nevadan, loves traveling, rock climbing, language learning, and Arabic calligraphy.
Jen graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of Kansas in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance, English Literature, and Global & International Studies emphasizing the Middle East and Comparative Systems. As an undergraduate she conducted two research theses, one on applied theatre and one on the rhetoric of political elites in the Arab Spring. She worked at KU’s Applied English Center assisting international students primarily from the Gulf and Levant to learn conversational English. Jen has also produced many performances as founder and Artistic Director of KU’s Jayhawk Initiative for Student Theatre. After graduating, Jen continued her study of Arabic as a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow at the Jordan Language Academy in Amman, where she continued teaching and working with arts organizations for several nonprofits in Jordan and the West Bank, such as Al-Balad Theatre, Dar al-Yasmin, Al-Rowwad Theatre, and The Freedom Theatre. Jen is interested in the interrelations of the arts, social movement theory, and development in the Arab World.
Dana Dairani holds a BA from Damascus University and spent more than eleven years working in the nonprofit sector in Syria, including managing a national project to integrate technology into the formal education system. She also served on the Executive Management Team at the Syria Trust for Development, where she designed and implemented community-based programs, managed the Trust’s fundraising profile, and contributed to the development of organizational strategies. After the eruption of the crises in Syria, Dana worked extensively on providing humanitarian support for internally displaced families. In 2012 she relocated to Jordan, where she worked with female Syrian refugees to support their financial independence and well-being and served as a training manager at AMIDEAST. Dana is a fellow of the John Smith Trust in the UK and a recipient of the International Alliance for Women 2015 World of Difference Award for her work with marginalized women in Jordan and Syria. In addition, Dana is working to establish and license the Arab Development Academy to provide better economic opportunities for Syrians.
Amy Davis graduated with honors from Wesleyan University in 2013 with her B.A. in Government and certificates in Middle East Studies and International Relations. She studied Arabic throughout her years at Wesleyan, including a semester at the University of Jordan in Amman. During her senior year, Amy wrote her senior honors thesis on the importance of American public diplomacy and democracy promotion in Jordan. In 2013, Amy was accepted to the United States Peace Corps to serve 27 months as a volunteer in the Community Health Improvement Project in rural Zambia. During her time in Zambia, she was able to become familiar with the culture and lifestyle of the Kaonde people, as well as attain a high degree of proficiency in their language. Amy's research interests include American public diplomacy and democracy promotion in the Arab world, conflict resolution, and prospects for democratic transitions in the Arab world. Amy has a great appreciation for Islamic art, and she is passionate about increasing mutual understanding and respect between Americans, Arabs, and all residents of the Middle East region.
Jared Davis graduated with honors in 2014 from Trinity College (CT) with a minor in Arabic and dual degrees in Italian and International Studies. Over the course of his college experience Jared worked as a teaching assistant with the Arab American Family Support Center of NY, and spent a summer term studying Arabic at the Qalam wa Lawh Center in Rabat, Morocco. Upon graduating he took his area knowledge of the Middle East and applied it to a brief career with the Harbour Group, an international advisory firm that develops public diplomacy campaigns for the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Part cinematographer, part Middle Eastern affairs junkie, Jared aims to blend his academic interests with film making in an attempt to create access to the foreign affairs community that is both compelling and engaging. His research interests include orientalism, psycho-social development and identity politics. Jared speaks English, Spanish and Italian fluently (he’s working on his Arabic).
Daniel DeMars moved to Cairo, Egypt with his family in 1996 and spent the majority of the next four years there. He returned in January 2011 with the intention to spend a semester studying at AUC but was quickly evacuated following the January 25 uprising. While his time there was short, the experience focused and strengthened his interest in the country. He managed to return yet again the following summer to do research for his senior thesis, examining the pre-political dimensions of the revolutionary attempts (he ultimately focused on the heavy metal scene). Daniel graduated from Notre Dame in 2012 with a degree in political science and an interdisciplinary minor in “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics”. In early 2013, he moved back to Egypt, where he spent the following year studying Egyptian colloquial Arabic and working for an international development consulting firm. At Georgetown, he intends to continue pursuing his interest in Egypt and the broader Arabic-speaking region, focusing on the ongoing political developments and their economic and cultural dimensions.
Marissa Emory graduated cum laude from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia with a Bachelor's in Applied Linguistics and an Arabic minor. She surprisingly had no prior knowledge of the Middle East; her passion for Middle Eastern studies didn't arise until after beginning her foreign language requirement for her Linguistics degree, causing a major shift in her academic trajectory. Despite differing faiths, Marissa became an influential member of GSU's Muslim Student Association and wrote her senior thesis on the assimilation of second-generation Arab Muslim women in the U.S. Since then, she has traveled to Palestine and Morocco to further her studies of Arabic and Middle Eastern conflict and policies. Most recently, in 2016, she earned the SALAM Scholarship and studied Arabic intensively in Manah, Oman with the Sultan Qaboos College for Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers. Her research is based on her experience as a linguistic sentiment analyst for Georgia State University and Columbia University, and focuses on interfaith relations between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Levant within the last half-century, and how those relations have major social and political impacts.
Meghan Feely graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Communication and in Arabic Studies. Meghan first became interested in the Middle East in 2012 while studying Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in Israel at the University of Haifa. During the summer of 2013, Meghan studied intensive Arabic in Irbid, Jordan. Meghan worked as a Research and Media intern at the Jordanian Embassy in the spring and summer of 2014 and as a programs and development intern at Refugees International during the fall of 2014. Following graduation, Meghan studied Arabic in Tangier, Morocco through the Critical Language Scholarship awarded by the Department of State. Her senior thesis at GWU focused on the American media’s utilization of western cultural schemas in covering events concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At Georgetown, Meghan intends to further study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in addition to studying Islamic social movements and identity formation and nationalism in the Arab world.
Dickie Fischer graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas in 2012 with a B.A. in Arabic Language and Literature and International Relations and Global Studies. Upon graduation, he spent the 2012-2013 academic year studying Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic with the Arabic Flagship Program in Alexandria, Egypt. While in Alexandria, Dickie also worked as a translator and grant writer for Gudran Association for Art and Development, a local NGO dedicated to the artistic development and cultural production of Alexandria’s youth. Upon returning to Austin, Dickie worked as a resettlement case manager for predominantly Iraqi, Afghan, and Cuban refugees at the Refugee Services of Texas, and later as an Arabic and Spanish teaching assistant for International High School, a local school for refugee and migrant youth. His research interests include refugee displacement and resettlement, conflict resolution, and international migration with a focus on youth.
Carl Fisher graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2006 and earned his commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army as an aviation officer. He served in Tikrit, Iraq for one year as a helicopter platoon leader and served for one year as a company executive officer in El Gorah, Egypt, as part of the Multinational Force & Observer mission. These years solidified Carl’s interest in the Arab world and fostered a love for the Arabic people and language. Carl joined the Foreign Area Officer Corps in 2013 and was assigned to the Middle East/North Africa region. He graduated from the Defense Language Institute's Modern Standard Arabic Program in Monterey, CA in 2014 and then worked in Jordan at the US Embassy in Amman from 2015 to 2016. Carl’s interests include the cultural and security implications of the Israel-Palestine conflict and development in the Arab world. Carl married his beautiful wife Alyssa in 2007, and they have five children.
Originally from China, Siqi graduated from Wellesley College magna cum laude in 2015 with double degrees in International Relations-Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. She has spent two summers in Rabat, Morocco improving her Arabic language as well as interning at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning. During her senior year, Siqi wrote her honors thesis on China’s soft power in the Arab World through higher educational exchange. Her research interests include China-Arab relations, feminism and other gender-related topics, society and culture of the Maghreb, etc. In her free time, Siqi enjoys language learning, different forms of Arabic dancing, piano, and traveling.
Ahmed Hamam graduated from Cairo University with a degree in Political Science and Economics. In 2008, he worked for Carnegie Endowment for Peace Studies and conducted an extensive research on the Salafis and the Islamists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He worked also for the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper and as a part-time journalist for other Arab newspapers in the region. Ahmed received a Diploma in Human Rights and Civil Society from the American University in Cairo in 2011. He started a master's degree at AUC before joining Georgetown. Ahmed is focusing his research on violence, and how it interacted with modernity, its representation and impact on the subject, and how the meaning of violence has changed in the modern world. His case study is on the modern prison in the Middle East. Ahmed speaks English, Arabic, and German.
Angela Haddad graduated with highest distinction from the University of Michigan in 2015 with a minor in Political Science and double degrees in French and Francophone studies and Arabic and Islamic studies. However, her love for languages continued as she took up Latin and Hebrew, reaching third year proficiency in each. After graduating from the university, she moved to Egypt with the Arabic Language Flagship Program, but was unexpectedly rerouted to Morocco, after the June 2013 protests. In the Maghreb, she learned Moroccan Darija and Egyptian Arabic intensively. A year later, Angela shifted her focus to the Levant. She moved to Jordan and facilitated courses on creativity and innovation at three local universities in both Arabic and English. Through that experience, she became interested in experiential learning and cultural relevance in education in the Arab world. Academically, she is passionate about the use of story and language in collective written memoir. Also, she is drawn to the study of Arabic diglossia and teaching Arabic as a foreign language. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories (found at www.kaanfiizamaan.com), hiking, traveling and learning new languages.
Thayer Hastings graduated from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington with a B.A. in 2011. He returned to live in Palestine for three years where his work focused on research and advocacy in law and human rights, and on Palestinian refugees and displacement. Thayer worked with local Palestinian and international non-governmental organizations including the BADIL Resource Center and the American Friends Service Committee. During that time, he served as editor of the quarterly al-Majdal magazine, developed a project to expand local communities’ defense against forcible displacement in the Naqab and contributed to multiple research publications. He previously worked in Seattle and Johannesburg where he held an internship with the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa. His ongoing work is informed by a commitment to community-led initiatives and decolonizing methodologies that address the root causes of displacement.
Charles completed his undergraduate studies at Edinburgh University in 2012 where he completed his thesis on the subject of US-UK foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia. He then worked in consulting in Saudi Arabia and London, during which time he began learning Arabic and completed a second degree in economics. At Georgetown, Charles is keen to explore further the political economy of the Arab World and its role within the broader international system.
Bokum Lee graduated cum laude from the George Washington University in 2014 with a dual major in Middle East Studies and Arabic Language. Bokum spent a summer in Morocco at Al-Akhawayn University in 2012 and a semester in Jordan at Yarmouk University in 2013 studying Modern Standard Arabic. During her time in Jordan, she worked for Save the Children as a social worker in King Abdullah Park Refugee Camp and volunteered for Collateral Repair Project. Upon graduating, she worked as an interpreter for the Korean Blue House in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Washington DC. Her work experience at the International Rescue Committee-Suburban Washington Resettlement Center in Silver Spring in 2015 led her seek further studies focusing on refugee resettlement methods and management within and outside of the Arab world.
Jennifer graduated from Eckerd College in 2016 having majored in Anthropology and International Studies and minoring in Middle East Studies. Jennifer's interests include women and gender studies with a focus on differential health and how cultural environments impact the decisions women make about their health. She wrote her senior undergraduate thesis on the social effects of infertility on urban women in Alexandria and Cairo. Jennifer has previously studied Arabic at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey's Summer Intensive Language Program and while studying abroad in Ifrane, Morocco for four months at Al Akhawayn University, where she focused her studies on the politics and culture of the Maghreb. She has completed a global studies practicum at the United Nations where she focused on global sustainability practices and human rights, and is a member of the Lambda Alpha Honor Society for Anthropology.
Daniel Lynn graduated from California State University Northridge in 2015. He graduated with a B.A. in History and was one of the first CSUN students to graduate with a minor in Middle East and Islamic Studies, a minor which was first offered in 2013. During his undergraduate studies, Daniel worked with the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force Division to promote awareness of the global refugee crisis. He also assisted the Human Rights Watch Santa Monica Office by helping put on documentary film screenings and by helping facilitate the organization’s Voices for Justice Annual Dinner in Beverly Hills. In addition to this work, Daniel studied Arabic through the UCLA Extension program and studied abroad at the Lebanese American University in Byblos, Lebanon. At Georgetown, Daniel is concentrating in Politics with research interests in Human Rights, Refugees, Government, and History. In the future, he hopes to work as a researcher for a non-profit organization.
Madison Marks graduated from Florida State University in 2013 with her B.A. in Middle East Studies. During her junior year of undergrad, she studied for a year in Jordan on a Boren Scholarship at the Qasid Institute. Over the last few years, Madison has interned with American for Near East Refugee Aid-Jordan, World Relief Nashville, New Jordan Research Center, The World Justice Project, and Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow (MEET). In January 2012, Madison participated in The Gulf Exchange which sparked her interest in the regional and international influence of the Gulf countries; thus, in August 2013, Madison began working Qatar Foundation International, a D.C.-based member of Qatar Foundation that focuses on cross-cultural exchange through education. She currently manages QFI's youth programs and has led exchanges for youth from across the Middle East and U.S.A. In summer 2015, Madison was the Resident Director for the National Security Language Initiative-Youth in Jordan. While at CCAS, she will focus on international development in the Middle East. Madison's other interests include economic development, technology and innovation in humanitarian spaces, education in emergencies, and psychosocial programming.
Alaa Faisal Mufleh
Born and raised in the beautiful city of Amman, Jordan, Alaa Faisal Mufleh, a passionate social entrepreneur, received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Al Balqa’a Applied University in 2012. Alaa has worked at a number of international non-governmental and governmental organizations including IREX, AMIDEAST, INC and the U.S. Department of State. Alaa served as the Alumni Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, managing a portfolio of over 7,500 Jordanian alumni of U.S. Government-funded exchange programs including, Fulbright, TechWomen, TechGirls, Fortune500, KL-YES, CocaCola GBI, Goldman Sachs, ACYPL, MEPI, BTL, ACCESS, UGRAD, and IVLP, among others. Prior to joining the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Alaa worked as a Scholarship Programs Assistant at AMIDEAST/Jordan, as well as director and co-founder of a youth-led organization called Abshir/Jordan that focused on the importance of mentorship. Alaa is drawn toward business, development and socio-economic policies of the Middle East, particularly literacy and education, youth and women’s empowerment, and innovation and entrepreneurship. Alaa is an avid hiker, aspiring photographer and economic development enthusiast.
Ada was born and raised in Barcelona and discovered her passion for the Arab World after visiting Syria and Jordan in 2007 and 2010. She earned a BA in Journalism from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2013) followed by a summer program at the London School of Journalism (LSJ). Later that year, she started her MA in International Relations at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). Through the courses and her final Master Thesis, Ada focused on Arab World studies, foreign policy, peace and conflict, and security issues. In 2015 she did a semester exchange at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, where she focused in media in conflict resolution and in religion and politics. Prior to starting her studies at Georgetown University, Ada completed an internship at the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) in Barcelona in the Arab and Mediterranean World department. In this think tank she conducted research on current affairs and historical events affecting the region, and was actively involved in the making and editing of afkar/ideas, a magazine specialized in the Arab World. Ada’s work has been published in national and international magazines, and she has been given an investigative journalism award. She is native speaker of Catalan and Spanish, continues studying Arabic, and has basic knowledge of French and Turkish.
Rebecca Murphy graduated summa cum laude from Colgate University with a B.A. in History and Middle Eastern Studies in 2014. While in college, her research concentrated on the factors that influenced the British government’s decision-making in the Palestine Mandate from 1945-1947. Rebecca studied abroad in London, England with Colgate, where she spent the semester performing research in the British National Archives for her undergraduate thesis. Rebecca is concentrating in history at Georgetown University and intends to further study the Israel-Palestine conflict and its implications. She is a native of Potomac, Maryland.
Danya Nayfeh graduated in 2013 from the University of South Carolina Honors College with a BA in international studies and a minor in Islamic culture and civilization. She entered her undergraduate work dedicated to learning Arabic and deepening her understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She studied for a semester at Birzeit University in the West Bank and has been committed to furthering the Palestinian cause through local activism. Through her work with the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Ramallah and UNRWA in its Jordan Field Office she soldified her belief in the value and necessity of civil society efforts geared toward improving regional respect for human rights. She is now pursuing a J.D. in conjunction with her Masters studies and is looking forward to the opportunity to conduct research on the potential for international norm adoption in the Middle East.
Originally from Taiwan, Hank Pin graduated from American University in 2014 with a BA in International Studies and a minor in Philosophy. During his time there, he had the opportunity to study Arabic in Amman, Jordan and later at Birzeit University in Palestine, where he developed an interest in Palestinian oral history, village traditions, and pre-Nakba Palestinian society. During his time in Palestine, he had the opportunity to visit and photograph destroyed Palestinian villages from 1948 near Jerusalem. He had also recently participated in a month-long summer language program at Institut Français du Proche-Orient in Beirut. His research interests also include religious minorities in the Middle East, Muslim-Christian relationship, as well as contemporary Shiite religious thought.
Nathan Shuler is from Lynchburg, Virginia. He graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia in December 2012 with a B.A. in Foreign Affairs. Nathan concentrated his studies in the Middle East and minored in history. He began studying Arabic his third year in college and continued his Arabic studies while working in Tunisia for a year after undergrad. In Tunisia Nathan helped facilitate cultural exchange programs while studying the local dialect and culture. Nathan's time living in Tunisia solidified his interest in the Arab world and gave him a love for the Arabic language and people. Nathan will concentrate his studies at CCAS in society and culture and hopes to develop research interests on the relationship between culture, religion, and political behavior in the Arab world.
Becca Smith worked for seven years as a defense and national security analyst after obtaining her M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. She spent approximately five years with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she continues as an Adjunct Fellow, and two years in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Her interests include U.S. and Middle Eastern politics, international humanitarian law, interfaith understanding, and Arabic.
Justin Smith graduated from Boston College cum laude in 2014 with a B.A. in History and Islamic Civilizations and Societies. His undergraduate thesis at BC focused on Israeli narratives of settler violence against Palestinians. He began his studies of the Middle East and the Arabic language during his sophomore year before spending the fall 2012 semester in Amman, Jordan, an experience which only strengthened his interest in the area. After graduation, he worked as a Communications Associate for a nonprofit performing arts center in his native upstate New York. His research interests include international relations and security in the Middle East, as well as the political standing of minority groups across the region. He hopes to one day join the Department of State’s Foreign Service. Outside the academic setting his interests include outdoor pastimes such as baseball, golf, and kayaking.
Kaylee graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in 2014 with a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. As an undergraduate, she was an enthusiastic Arabic student and a committed member of the Middle East Music Ensemble, in which she explored the region’s rich musical traditions. In the summer of 2013, she studied Arabic in Morocco at the AALIM Institute as a Critical Language scholar. Kaylee returned to Morocco in the spring of 2014 to participate in an Arabic debate program with students from the greater Maghreb. Later that year, she began her Fulbright language training at the ALIF and SACAL institutes in Fes and subsequently conducted research under the aegis of the AALIM institute in Meknes. Her project examined retail development and grievances of small shop owners. While living in Meknes she also interned with a development organization that provides micro-credit to small businesses. After completing the Fulbright program in 2015, she moved to Rabat, where she worked at an organization dedicated to preparing Moroccans for educational opportunities abroad. Kaylee recently returned to the US and is eager to fortify her experiences with more language training and academic study in the MAAS program.
Lea Thurm graduated in 2012 summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from the University of South Alabama. The concentration of her studies was in Professional Development and the disciplines of International Relations, Political Science, French and Spanish. She graduated in three years while playing for the university’s volleyball team. In 2015 Lea earned her second bachelors in Arab Studies from the University of Leipzig, Germany. While earning her degree in Leipzig, Lea played volleyball professionally, winning a league championship in 2013. While playing professionally and earning her second bachelor’s degree, she also worked in the marketing department of a major energy company for two years and one year in a temporary employment company, which hired medical professionals. Lea speaks 6 languages and is interested in the contemporary politics of the Middle East and North Africa, namely the Sudan and South Sudan, which were subject of her bachelor thesis.
Uma Mencia Uranga
Uma Mencia Uranga graduated cum laude from the American University in Dubai with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and a Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies, also receiving the President's Award for Student Excellence. She studied intensive Arabic at the American University in Cairo and spent two summers at the Arabic Language Institute in Fez, Morocco. Uma has worked as a professional endurance horse rider in Dubai for the past seven years, competing in long-distance races throughout the Gulf region. Her latest feat was completing the longest horse race in the world, the 2015 Mongol Derby, a 1,000 km race across the steppes of Mongolia. Uma has also worked as a leader for outdoor education, community service, and adventure programs with Rustic Pathways in Morocco and Mongolia. At Georgetown, Uma plans to focus her studies on migration, identity, and history of the Gulf. In addition to her native language Basque, Uma speaks Arabic, Spanish, and French, and her hobbies include hiking, drawing, and photography.
Zoya Waliany graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with majors in Plan II Honors, Government, and Arabic. She received a Boren scholarship to study Arabic in Alexandria, Egypt from 2012-2013 with the Arabic Flagship Program. In Egypt, she interned with a women’s rights organization and the Library of Alexandria. She worked with the National Democratic Institute from 2013-2015 backstopping its civil society programs in Lebanon, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. Prior to this, she worked with the Council on Foreign Relations and as an Arabic tutor and teaching assistant.
Joe Walker graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2005 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and immediately commissioned as an officer in the United States Army. Also having served in Germany and Afghanistan, his interest in the Middle East was sparked by the completion of multiple combat and advisory deployments to Iraq. Upon transitioning to the Army’s foreign area officer program, he studied Modern Standard Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA in 2013-2014 and completed a short language immersion at the Institute for Leadership and Communication Studies in Rabat, Morocco. Most recently he completed a tour at the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan working in security cooperation. As part of his role, he also conducted extensive travel throughout the MENA region, gaining wide exposure to its history, culture, politics, and religion. Joe is concentrating in politics at Georgetown, but is also interested in the religious history of the region.
Corey Walters graduated from Saint Louis University in 2016 with a B.S. in Emergency Management and a minor in Middle East studies. In 2015, he studied Arabic for seven months in Meknes, Morocco on a Boren Scholarship. Drawing on his studies from abroad, Corey wrote a paper on the role that American media intervention in Iraq played in undermining Iraqi reconciliation efforts. His other interests include attitudes towards Muslims and Arab refugees, and social and political movements.
Haydn Welch received her B.A. in Middle East Studies from Swarthmore College in 2015. Excited at the prospect of an interdisciplinary education, Haydn took courses in a variety of disciplines, ultimately focusing on anthropology and history. In the spring of 2014, Haydn was fortunate to study Arabic in Amman, Jordan, where she continued living during the summer of 2014 in order to conduct research for her undergraduate thesis. Haydn's research consisted of interviews with Palestinian residents of the Jabal al-Hussein refugee camp in Amman, and with one multigenerational Palestinian-Jordanian family from a rural village outside Amman. Her subsequent thesis focused on the intertwining issues of collective memory and history, as well as national identity. Haydn is looking forward to continuing her study of these topics at Georgetown, in addition to studying the politics of humanitarian crises in the Arab World.
Chadd Wish graduated from the George Washington University magna cum laude in 2013 with a B.A. in international affairs and French. He studied Arabic throughout his three years at GWU, including a semester in Rabat, Morocco. In addition, he worked at the Project on Middle East Political Science, which seeks to enhance the engagement of Middle East political scientists in the broader academic and policy making fields. Chadd is interested in France’s former colonial possessions in the greater Middle East, particularly those in North Africa. His senior French thesis analyzed the political, social, economic, and cultural reasons why many contemporary Moroccan writers continue to write in French. While at Georgetown, he hopes to further study the political economies of the countries of the Maghreb, as well as to assess the effects of French rule on the political development of these states. He currently works for Save the Children, a large development non-profit.
Mahdi graduated in 2016 with a BS in Economics and a minor in Sociology with High Distinction from the Lebanese American University. In 2015 he began working as a case worker with Helem, an organization working on the legal protection of the LGBT community in Beirut. Mahdi was also a student organizer, cofounding LAU's Intersectional Feminist club, one of the largest student lead feminist groups in the country. He's also been part of a feminist cooperatives in Beirut, worked on HIV-prevention among young queer men and as an advocacy officer for Helem at the UNHCR in Geneva. Mahdi is primarily interested in Refugee studies, economic justice, queer theory and liberation. In his free time he enjoys going out to dance, eating kibbeh ney'eh, making memes, and attempting to read Mahdi Amel.
Ahmed Zuhairy was born to an Italian-American mother and an Iraqi father. He was raised in Portland, Oregon, and being half Iraqi, he naturally became concerned with U.S. foreign policy by the time he was in high school. He began studying Arabic as a heritage learner in his second year at Portland State University. During his undergraduate degree he also worked with Iraqi Refugees in his hometown of Portland, Oregon and as an Arabic Language Tutor. During his undergraduate career he traveled and studied in several Arab world including Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq. Coming from a background of activism supported by friends and some family, Ahmed aspires to work in the international realm, hoping to influence a peaceful foreign policy whether through the UN or various NGOs. As Arabic is a large part of his heritage and interest, he hopes to continually use it as a means of connecting with others in his work, whether it is in translation or speaking with other international agents in the Arab World.