Middle East

Abbie Champeau, Al Akhawayn University in Morocco

Since departing from Syracuse in mid-August, I have been a participant in AMIDEAST’s direct enroll program at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. The first portion of the program took place in Morocco’s political and administrative capital, Rabat, and included a 10-day cultural immersion seminar. During this time, I was provided with a background in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, Darija, in addition to taking several classes pertaining to Moroccan culture and history. Moreover, while in Rabat I was given the opportunity to live with a host family and experience inter-cultural communication in an immersive and highly rewarding manner (while also enjoying the most delicious home cooking I have ever been graced with).

Abbie Champeau in the Sahara Desert near Merzouga

Following this orientation, I arrived at Al Akhwayan, a university situated high in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, only about an hour from Fes, the country’s bustling cultural center. Embracing the American model of higher education, Al Akhwayan operates entirely in English and offers a vast variety of courses at the graduate level. The university provides students with a wide range of political science, history, and anthropology classes — particularly those concerning the Middle East and North Africa, religious studies, diplomatic negotiation, and international relations as a broadened study. As a frame of reference, I am currently enrolled in four courses: Global Islam in the Contemporary, Middle Eastern Politics, History of North Africa, and finally, Security & Foreign Policy of the Middle Eastern States. Thus far, I have very much enjoyed the academic experience I have been offered through AUI. I have found the professors to be knowledgeable and accommodating and the courses they teach to be both rigorous and rewarding.

In addition, Al Akhwayan was founded with the unique mission of providing a venue for intercultural exchange among students of secondary education. As such, AUI privileges the notion of global education and places particular emphasis on its international exchange programs. As a result, AUI effectively fosters a large community of students from both local regions and abroad, creating a student body comprised of individuals from numerous diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Well on this program I have also had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Morocco and other Maghrebi countries. I have been lucky enough to witness the beauty of the region first-hand while simultaneously discovering a new and exciting culture.

As a MAIR student focused on the Middle East and North Africa, I find that my time at Al Akhwayan has been incredibly gratifying. As I reflect on my experience, I truly believe that this program has unequivocally enriched my understanding of the complexities and richness surrounding my regional interests.

With a background in the Arabic language, Abbie Champeau is a MAIR student focusing on MENA.

Abbie Champeau on a camel in the Sahara Desert near Merzouga
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
AMIDEAST Al Akhawayn Direct Enroll program
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Emily Ma Takes Unexpected Path from DC to Turkey

Emily Ma is a MAIR student who wrote this post last summer. She is currently interning at the U.S. Commercial Service in Taipei, Taiwan.

The course of my summer in Washington D.C. did not turn out as expected at all. I accepted an internship with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security as a Pathways Intern. On the first day of the internship, I found myself assigned to the Refugee Affairs Division. Blindly diving into this internship, it has turned out to be a profoundly rewarding experience, and a potential turning point in my career.

A division that works rather under the radar (my supervisors have admitted), the Refugee Affairs Division is the adjudicating authority on all refugee applications into the United States.  The RAD Office (as the US Government – USG – is so fond of acronyms), is comprised of several different sections, but I was the intern for the Refugee Corps. Refugee Officers within the Refugee Corps are sent on monthly details around the world to adjudicate refugee applications after they have been referred to the United States by UNHCR. I had heard about refugee resettlement within the US, and RAD is the final security check, pre-arrival.

The first project with which I was tasked was to organize and coordinate a large hiring surge of officers for the division. I organized resumes, collected letters of recommendation, and had the opportunity to sit in on several interviews.

After successfully completing the first project within the first three weeks working at RAD, my supervisors decided to send me to Turkey as a fingerprinter on the next detail. Despite the several setbacks due to recent events in Turkey, the US Embassy in Turkey confirmed that it was safe for our team to continue the mission. So, somehow, here I am writing this blog post in Turkey. I’ve been working directly (fingerprinting can be surprisingly difficult at times) with refugees, and the Refugee Officers on my team allow me to observe their interviews with refugee applicants.

Working with refugees and leaving the country had most assuredly not been in my plans when I moved down to DC this summer, but I guess it just goes to show that you’ll never know where life will take you.

P.S. Refugee Officers want to make it clear that refugee adjudications are made by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Refugee Affairs Division, not the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Emily Ma at the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey
Emily Ma at the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Emily Ma Finds Taiwan Unforgettable While at Foreign Commercial Service

Darci Pauser – Boren Fellowship and Critical Language Scholarships for Turkey

Turkish Street Scenes by Darci Pauser
Turkish Street Scenes.
Credit: Darci Pauser

This interview with Boren Fellow and CLS Scholar Darci Pauser (MPA/IR) is republished from the Fall 2013 Middle East Studies Program Newsletter.  Thank you to the MESP program for the republication permission.

Why are you interested in Turkey?

My interest in Turkey is actually somewhat of a coincidence. When I was 17 years old, I was attending community college and studying anthropology, and was working as a babysitter. One woman I worked for asked me to accompany the family on a three-week trip to Turkey to visit relatives. It was the first country I had been to outside the U.S. and I was completely enamored. And as a student of anthropology, I took great interest in the Turkish language and culture. When I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley the next year, I began my study of the Turkish language. Continue Reading

Op-Ed: US Policy in Egypt Inconsistent and Counterproductive

Al Nakhlah Header
Al Nakhlah is the Fletcher School’s Online Journal on Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization
Source: fletcher.tufts.edu

On November 24, 2013, Maxwell students Seth Binder (MAIR ’13) and Amrou Kotb (MPA/IR ’14) published an opinion piece titled “US Policy in Egypt Inconsistent and Counterproductive” in Al Nakhlah, The Fletcher School’s online journal of Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization. Continue Reading

Seth Binder – Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

Project on Middle East Democracy
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

This story was submitted by Seth Binder, who completed his graduate IR degree in the fall of 2013.

As part of the MAIR requirements, I participated in Syracuse’s Washington D.C., Global Security and Development Program (GSDP). This opportunity provided an array of course options and an endless number of internship possibilities in the DC area. Continue Reading

Matt Podolak – Envision Consulting, Amman, Jordan

See, it snows everywhere, not just here
Amman in the Snow
Photo: Matt Podolak

My internship for Envision Consulting was arranged by Amideast, the academic program that I was participating in during my fall semester in Jordan. The internship was actually part of a course being offered, but I opted not to receive credit for the course, and instead volunteered my time at the consultancy in order to remain busy during the semester. Continue Reading