Joshua Claxton '18

 

Hometown: Summit, NJ

Major: Political Science

Minor: Arabic and Computer Science

Gap Year Description

Towards the end of my high school career I found myself increasingly interested in the Middle East. I was intrigued by the post-Arab Spring complexity of the region and wanted to gain a better understanding of the nuanced political climate. Given my curiosity and adventurous spirit, I decided to take a gap year in Jordan, where I would attend a school called King’s Academy as a post-graduate.

King’s is a grade 7-12 day/boarding school, located 30 minutes south of Jordan’s capital, Amman, and founded by King Abdullah II in 2007. At King’s I had a typical high school course load except I took intensive Arabic language classes every day. My time in school was very beneficial, but the most fruitful experiences were when I was engaged in provocative conversations outside of class. I learned so much while at friends’ homes in Amman and also from casual dialogue on campus. I loved discussing Jordanian politics as I became aware of the unique power dynamic between the King, tribes, and traditional Muslims. I also learned of the social issues in Jordanian society that were debated by my peers, such as: the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and the country’s economic troubles resulting from an influx of refugees.

I had the opportunity to travel and do some service as well. Over the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, I went on a week long hiking trip from Dana Nature Reserve to Petra. The vistas were incredible and it was wonderful to experience rural Jordan. Throughout the year, I also helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity and participated in a weekly program at King’s that reached out to refugee girls through sports.

How did it influence your time at Middlebury?

My gap year provided me with an enlightened understanding of a region that is thoroughly misunderstood. While at Middlebury, I have loved sharing my stories, hoping to provide a somewhat complete picture of Jordan. My experience also helped me discover my love for Arabic and aspirations to work diplomatically in the Middle East. With a better knowledge of my interests, I have been able to focus on the things I care most about while at Middlebury.

 

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