Interview by Steven Gertz
Summer at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies is usually a season that faculty and staff use to work on projects placed on the backburner during the busyness of the school year. But even the extra time gained from not attending public events or teaching classes does not necessarily enable faculty and staff to accomplish all of the tasks they have on their to-do lists. Which is why CCAS greatly appreciates the interns that have come alongside faculty and staff this summer. As a sign of that appreciation, CCAS asked the various interns what they are studying, what projects they worked on, and what they hope to do following their internship at Georgetown.
Tell us something about your backgrounds and what drew you to CCAS.
Lauren Coughlin: I am an intern with the National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR), and I am entering my junior year at Troy University where I am studying Political Science with minors in Arabic and Social Science with a concentration in International Studies. I chose to work at CCAS because I was already aware of the program's great reputation through its events and publications. Also, I wanted to complement the professional focus of my NCUSAR internship by joining an academic program.
Louie Al-Hashimi: I am entering my senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, where I am studying Economics with a minor in Political Science. Like Lauren, I came to CCAS as a NCUSAR intern. What sparked my interest in interning at CCAS was the Center's commitment to advanced study, research, and education relating to the Arab world.
Madeleine Jacobs: I am entering my junior year at Kenyon College, where I am majoring in Political Science and minoring in History with a concentration in Law and Society. As an aspiring journalist, I was drawn to CCAS by my interest in the constantly changing political landscape of the Middle East, and CCAS seemed liked a good place to deepen my understanding of that region.
Hussam Al-Joulani: I recently graduated from Bethlehem University with a BA in Accounting and Business Administration. I was selected by my university to come to CCAS through an agreement reached between Georgetown and Bethlehem University (BU). What really attracted me to CCAS is that it is one of the few educational centers in the US that really cares about and speaks to Middle East issues.
What have you each been doing for CCAS these past couple of months?
Lauren Coughlin: During my time at CCAS, I’ve worked in the K-12 Teacher Outreach Program under the mentorship of Zeina Azzam, Director of Educational Outreach. I’ve made organizational improvements to the teacher lending library, helped prepare for and run the annual summer weeklong teacher workshop, and assisted with day-to-day operations of the Center and Outreach department.
Louie Al-Hashimi: I’ve worked as part of a team translating and coding interviews with Syrian and other refugees in Jordan and cataloging Syrian protest signs and resistance art. I have also digitized financial records and cataloged print publications in the Center.
Hussam Al-Joulani: I started work at the Center by assisting Dr. Rochelle Davis, Grace Benton, and fellow intern Louie in translating interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan. I’ve also been utilizing my connections with Bethlehem University to produce a budget report for a potential language study trip for Georgetown Arabic students in Palestine as well as prepare a survey of Bethlehem University students and faculty.
Madeleine Jacobs: When I first arrived at the Center, I worked with Louie to organize and digitize various projects. I’ve also compiled an extensive bibliography on the Druze for Director Osama Abi-Mershed, and I’m now finishing up work on another research project on post-Taif Lebanon.
What do you hope to do after your internship, and how has your time at CCAS helped you in your career ambitions?
Madeleine Jacobs: My time at CCAS has provided me with various research skills that will undoubtedly be very useful in my pursuit of a journalism degree. I have also had the great pleasure of working with the kind and compassionate faculty and staff of the CCAS program.
Louie Al-Hashimi: I would like to attend graduate school and am considering applying to Georgetown. Working at CCAS provided me with the opportunity to enhance my understanding of the Arab world. I have had the pleasure of working with highly motivated staff, faculty, and students who have made my internship experience beneficial in terms of professional and personal development.
Hussam Al-Joulani: This internship has given me the opportunity to build upon my studies at Bethlehem University. As an intern from the Holy Land (Palestine), I want to build a bridge with the West that can help us as Palestinians share our stories and find ways to bring peace to our state. As for my future plans, I am also considering applying to graduate school at Georgetown.
Lauren Coughlin: I’m considering applying to Georgetown for a master’s in Arab Studies or Foreign Service with a view toward working in the field of International Relations with a focus on the Middle East. Thanks to my work at CCAS, I have a greater understanding now of how university and outreach programs are run, and I feel more prepared to enter both graduate school and the work force. By working on our outreach programs, I have learned how to be a better cultural liaison between the Arab world and my community.