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CIEE, Amman, Jordan / Summer Middle East Studies
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Doran Tucker

Major: International Politics, Geography
Minor: Undeclared: Middle Eastern Studies, Arab, Global Security
Hometown: Aaronsburg, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about the program from fellow students in my Arabic class. Everyone I spoke with had great things to say about the program. The program was also easy to find because CIEE is the only company offering education abroad experiences in Amman, Jordan. I also spoke with CIEE representatives at the education abroad fair.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience in Jordan was fantastic. I had wonderful time learning how best to flag down taxis, ordering food, and fulfilling my life long dream of visiting Petra. I lived in a pleasant neighborhood of Amman (I was surrounded by medical offices and embassies), and it was only a five-minute taxi ride to the city center. When I wasn’t studying for my classes or trying to find the best/cheapest restaurants in the city, my program coordinators had a variety of cultural experience activities for me to participate in (e.g. visiting a Mosque, participating in traditional arts and crafts, and cooking classic Jordanian food). All of these arranged events were great fun and gave my fellow students and me the opportunity to learn more about the Jordanian culture. In addition to the activities in Amman we also had several excursions out of the city. I got to visit Roman ruins, medieval castles, and an overnight trip to the ancient city of Petra and the beautiful Wadi Rum desert. During my trip I experienced the Jordanian hospitality that I had been repeatedly told of, and I truly felt welcome in Amman.

"In addition to being able to go from learning Arabic in the classroom to utilizing it on the street after class, I also had the opportunity to take a class looking at U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."

How did this experience impact you academically?

I have been studying Arabic since my senior year of high school, so it made sense that I would want to travel to an Arabic speaking country. Jordan seemed like the obvious location, I had always wanted to visit the country and I could study Arabic. I was not disappointed. In addition to being able to go from learning Arabic in the classroom to utilizing it on the street after class, I also had the opportunity to take a class looking at U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. This was a highly enjoyable experience. To be honest it seems a little different talking about U.S. policies from the perspective of a different country. Personally I feel that studying in Jordan was helpful academically not only because I learned new things in my classes but also because being in a different country helped me look at topics and situations I had already studied and understand them from another perspective. For me this seems like the most important academic element of my experience in Jordan, I got to learn about familiar events in a way that often made them seem very unfamiliar.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Upon finishing my undergraduate education I would like to pursue a graduate degree and then I hope to find a university teaching position. Given that throughout my college career my academic focus has been on the Middle Eastern politics and history, U.S. policy in the region, and Middle Eastern nationalist movements it only made sense that I should visit and actually spend some time in the region. Perhaps the greatest impact visiting Jordan had on me was that it made me realize how much more time I should spend there and moving forward my hope is that I can incorporate travel more effectively into my research. As I transition from undergraduate to graduate level education I think that trying to write about the Middle East from America is all too prone to the propagation of misleading stereotypes and I hope that by continuing to experience living in the Middle East I can more effectively contribute to my fields of interest.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would. Especially to those students who are interested in an experience that is something more than a reason to spend a month on a beach somewhere. I had a wonderful time in Jordan, but it was because I wanted to be surrounded by the culture and language I have been studying for years. For those of you who want to get out of your comfort zone and experience a new culture I highly recommend this program.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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