One of the highlights of the semester is "project week". A welcome change to the normal class routine, this week offers students opportunities to acquaint themselves with interesting topics related to hot political issues in Jordan and the Middle East.

Spring 2018

During the Project Week this semester, students explored three core themes:

  • Refugees in Jordan
  • Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Jordan
  • Tribes and Tribal Society in Jordan

Students were involved in experiential activities, site visits, talks, and discussions with a diverse group of experts, activists, and communities from different local and international organizations in Jordan. These diverse activities helped students to immerse themselves in Jordanian society and culture.  The CVE group's visits took them to The Center for Strategic Studies, The lawyers' Union, I-Dare and Hayat organizations.  Students studying the Tribal Society visited tribes and listened to speakers about tribal law and women in tribes. The Refugee group met with activists advocating for refugees of minority backgrounds, especially Sudanese refugee advocates, and also had the opportunity to cook with refugee filmmakers and watch their movies. 

The project week involved two assignments depending on the language level of students. The MSA 4+5 students were required to produce a speech recording. The MSA 2+3 students were required to write a research paper. 

In the weeks following Project Week, each student developed a research paper/recording on a topic related to their group’s theme. As in previous semesters, the paper/recording was an MSA course requirement, and the best paper/recording in each MSA level was awarded a prize. The winning research papers are below:

PDF iconSarah Thompson: (George Washington University, Level MSA2): Women in the Modern Phase of Radicalization: the Change in Women's Role in ISIS;

PDF iconCatherine Haseman: (Baylor University, Level MSA3):  The Discrepancy in Aid: Comparing the approach to Syrian and Sudanese Refugees in Jordan

Fall 2017

The Fall 2017 Project Week explored three core themes:

  • Refugees in Jordan
  • Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Jordan
  • Tribes and Tribal Society in Jordan

As in each semester, Project Week was an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in and learn more about the Jordanian society and culture. During this week, students were involved in experiential activities, field visits, talks, and discussions with a diverse group of experts, activists, and communities from different local and international organizations and sites in Jordan. Some of the visits took them to Questscope, UNICEF Innovation Lab, Wehdat Camp, Habes Al-Majali Museum, members of Jordanian tribes in Salt, and the Circassian Charity Association.
The project week involved two assignments depending on the language level of students. The MSA 4 students were required to produce a speech recording. The MSA 1,2, and 3 students were required to write a research paper.

In the weeks following Project Week, each student developed a research paper/recording on a topic related to their group’s theme. As in previous semesters, the paper/recording was an MSA course requirement, and the best paper/recording in each MSA level was awarded a prize.

The winning papers are below:

Rachel Furlow, (George Washington University, Level 4 MSA): Prison Reform in Jordan and CVE.

PDF iconLauren Remaley, (George Washington University, Level 3 MSA): Sudanese Refugees in Jordan and the Politics of Aid

PDF iconEva Kahan, (Tufts University, Level 2 MSA): From 1917 to 2017: Al-Hwaitat Tribe in the Jordanian Armed Forces

PDF iconWilliam Ford, (College of the Holy Cross, Level 2 MSA): The Situation of Sudanese Refugees in Jordan: Challenges, Needs, and the Lack of Advocacy.

PDF iconNaomi Whitney-Hirschmann, (Wellesley, Level 1 MSA): Refugees and Labor in Jordan.

Other outstanding student research papers this semester:

PDF iconNelson Del Rio (MIIS, Level 3 MSA): The Economy of CVE.

PDF iconBillie White, (Middlebury College, Level 2 MSA): The Power of Language in Discussions about Refugees in Western Media.

PDF iconMarivi Howell-Arza, (Duke University, Level 1 MSA): The Role of Refugees' Psychology in Joining Extremist Organizations.

PDF iconNataly Karimi, (George Washington University, Level 1 MSA): The Status of Refugees Determines Their Lives.

Spring 2017

The Middlebury School in Jordan divided into two groups during this semester's Project Week to explore the following themes:

  • Countering Violent Extremism in Jordan
  • Environment and Sustainability in Jordan

Students, teachers, and on-site staff became learners alike during Project Week. Students used the Language Pledge to reflect, question and discuss topics of a sensitive nature to the host society, and to establish connections with individuals from the public, civil and military sectors. Field trips to the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark, the Military College for Islamic Sciences, and the cities of Zarqa and Ruseifa were among the week's most fruitful visits.

Following Project Week, students continued to explore their theme by writing a research paper, in the case of intermediate-level students, and recording a speech, for advanced students. Teachers and staff formed committees to evaluate and award a prize to the best paper/recording in each MSA level.

The winners are below:

MSA 2: PDF iconEmily Smith, Research Paper, "The Use of Electronic Games by the Islamic State for Recruitment"

MSA 3: PDF iconAnna Lueck, Research Paper, "Art as a Weapon to Fight Extremism"PDF iconAnna Lueck.pdf

MSA 4: Cassandra Wanna, Speech Recording, "Letters from a Young Jordanian Man" (recording witheld to protect privacy)

MSA 5: Vignesh Ramachandran , Speech Recording, "EcoTourism in Jordan"

Other outstanding papers and recordings:

MSA 2: Charles Tomb, Research Paper, "Differences in the Understanding of Extremism in Jordanian Society"

MSA 4: Deborah Darabi , Speech Recording, "Public Transportation in Jordan"

MSA 5: Daniel Buchman , Speech Recording, "Public Spaces"

MSA 5: Eli Tannenbaum , Speech Recording, "Water Recycling in Jordan"

Fall 2016

The Fall 2016 Project Week explored three core themes:

  • Refugees in Jordan
  • Youth Culture in Jordan
  • Tribes and Tribal Society in Jordan

A vibrant learning atmosphere dominated the week as students in each group participated in field visits, hosted guest speakers, and led discussions and vocabulary review sessions. This wide array of activities allowed students to explore these themes from many different perspectives. The week’s highlights included visits to the National Center for Culture and Arts, UNWomen, and a military museum.

In the weeks following Project Week, each student developed a research paper on a topic related to their group’s theme. As in previous semesters, the paper was an MSA course requirement, and the best paper in each MSA level was awarded a prize. The winning papers are below:

Daniel Buchman (Middlebury College, Level 4 MSA):  PDF iconSelf-awareness - The Key to Constructing a Modern Arab State.pdf

Dakota Foster (Amherst College, Level 2 MSA):  PDF iconEducational Opportunities for Syrian Refugees in the Middle East.pdf

Victoria Gonzalez-Polanco (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Level 3 MSA):  PDF iconUnemployment in Jordan - A Refugee Crisis or Internal Factors.pdf

Jiho Park (Connecticut College, Level 1 MSA:  PDF iconThe Role of Women in Jordan’s Tribal System.pdf

Other outstanding student research papers this semester:

Cassia Bardos (Tufts University, Level 3 MSA):  PDF iconThe Relationship between the Economic Situation and Tribalism in Jordan.pdf

Emelie Chace-Donahue (Smith College, Level 2 MSA):   PDF iconConflicts between Jordanian Civil Law, International Human Rights, and Tribal Law.pdf

Jessica Kocan (Dartmouth College, Level 4 MSA):   PDF iconLost Words in Jordanian Youth Culture.pdf

Eli Tanenbaum (Pomona College, Level 4 MSA:   PDF iconOn Syrian Refugee Rights in Jordan.pdf

Spring 2016

The Spring 2016 Project Week included two core themes:

  • Refugees in Jordan
  • Environment and Environmentalism in Jordan

Groups coalesced around each theme, participating in a number of  discussions, visits, and lectures around Amman and farther afield. Activities throughout the week included visits with UNHCR and USAID, meetings with aid, development, and infrastructure organizations, and a field trip to a wind energy farm (JWPC).

Each student then developed a research paper on a topic related to their group’s theme. The paper was an MSA course requirement, and was also reviewed by a committee that awarded prizes to the top paper in each MSA course. Some of the winning papers are below:

Julia Wolf (Middlebury, Level 2 MSA) The Role of Women in Jordan’s Water Crisis

Liza Tumen (George Washington University, Level 2 MSA) Integration of Syrian Refugees into Jordanian Society: Its Importance and Benefits

Gabriel Figueroa Torres (NYU-Abu Dhabi, Level 5 MSA) Marginalized Victims of the Syrian Crisis: Challenges to the Provision of Health Sevices to Syrian Refugees with Special Needs

Naishad Kai-ren I (Brown University, Level 3 MSA) The Short-Term Response to the Syrian Economic Crisis in Jordan

Fall 2015

In Fall 2015, students divided into three groups for Project Week activities:

  • Tribes and Tribalism
  • Development
  • Refugees and Migration

Project Week included visits, group activities, readings, student presentations, and discussions. The week’s activities included field trips to Jordan’s first wind farm, the Parliament, a Bedouin wedding, UN and USAID offices, and local schools, as well as discussions with researchers, students, and Amman residents.

At the end of the week, each student developed a research paper on a topic related to their group’s theme. The paper was an MSA course requirement, and was also reviewed by a committee that awarded prizes to the top four papers. The winning papers are below:

Erika Nguyen, Stanford (Level 1 MSA): Early Marriage among Syrian Girls
Will Conover, Bowdoin (Level 2 MSA): Wind Power: The Future of Jordan?
Allison Ray, George Washington U. (Level 3 MSA): Tribes as a Symbol of Jordanian Identity
Maggie Nazer, Middlebury (Level 4 MSA): Jordanian Women and Education about Sexuality

Fall 2014

During the Fall 2014 Project Week, students participated in various group activities, and then developed individual research papers related to their group’s theme. The week’s activities included a lot of field trips (sites included the National Bank, the Parliament, a Bedouin group south of Amman, a Palestinian refugee camp, and local schools) as well as discussions and meetings with prominent researchers, artists, and activists.


The Fall 2014 Project Week groups were:

  • Jordanian Social Structure
  • Refugees in Jordan
  • Economic Development in Jordan
  • Youth Culture & Expression in Jordan

At the end of the week, each student wrote an independent research paper for the MSA course. All papers were also reviewed by a committee, with the top papers winning some great prizes.  Award winning papers included the following:

Will Brennan-Arffman, Middlebury College:  The Influence of Social Media on the Discourse of Young Arabs Today

Sarah Geselowitz, Swarthmore College:  
Who is Jordanian? The Conflict Over the Issue of Granting Citizenship to the Children of Jordanian Women

Fall 2013

Once again, students voted on the topics selected for the week. Project week this semester was packed with research, field trips (e.g. to one of the Syrian refugee camps, art galleries in Jordan, a Bedouin group outside of Amman), meetings and discussions (a meeting with leaders within the field of refugees assistance & humanitarian relief, discussions with a Bedouin poet, and Youth artists and activists).
Students chose between the following topics:

  • Refugees in Jordan (two sub-groups)
  • Jordanian Bedouin culture
  • Youth culture

Below are the winning essays (unedited):

Rebecca Watson, Middlebury College:
The Bedouin and the Jordanian Government; Changes in Bedouin Identity

Orelia Jonathan, Wesleyan University:
Palestinian Hip Hop and its Connection to Palestinian Poetry

Carl D'Oleo-Lundgren, University of Connecticut:
Analysis of Expressions of Frustration by Arab Youth in Music Using Sham Al-Yasmeen, a Song by Mashrou Leila

Rafael Contreras, Brown University:
EU Aid to Jordan for Syrian Refugees

David Russell, Middlebury College:
Impact of Syrian Refugees on Jordan

Spring 2013

In the spring of 2013 students chose between the following topics:

  •     Syrian refugees in Jordan;
  •     Energy issues in Jordan;
  •     The Palestinian Israeli conflict through the eyes of Palestinian hip-hoppers.


The week was packed with research on the topic, field trips (e.g. to one of the Syrian refugee camps, to the Jordanian Atomic Energy Commission), meetings and discussions (e.g. a Skype meeting with a member of the first Palestinian hip-hop band "DAM", discussions with a member of the Jordanian Senate, Green Peace activists, and Syrian artists who fled their country). On the last day, the students shared the results of their projects in impressive presentations, and all students wrote a paper on a topic they chose within the scope of their project. One paper from each group was awarded a prize.

The students were extremely dedicated and had a lot of fun as well!

Below, we are posting the (unedited) papers of the three winners.

Syrian Refugees and the Jordan Water Crisis - Reva Dhingra (Brown University)Syrian Refugees and the Jordan Water Crisis - Reva Dhingra (Brown University)

Energy Issues In Jordan-Diversity For a Better Future - Greg Woolston (Middlebury College)Energy Issues In Jordan-Diversity For a Better Future - Greg Woolston (Middlebury College)