Middlebury Schools Abroad

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.

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)