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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.