Center News

Spotlight: Speakers Bureau Program Visits Moorestown Friends School to Discuss Islam

The Speakers Bureau program provides a great opportunity for K-12 schools in the greater Philadelphia area to receive free lectures from the University of Pennsylvania’s advanced graduate students. Our speakers can cover a wide range of topics including politics, culture, religion, art, and gender issues related to the Middle East and North Africa. These sessions can be tailored to meet the needs of your classroom or organization.

This year the Speakers Bureau program will reach 15 schools and has been expanded to include diverse student populations from South Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia High School
for Creative & Performing Arts, Science Leadership Academy, ASPIRA Schools
of Pennsylvania, Boys Latin Middle School in West Philadelphia and Neshaminy High Schools in Langhorne, PA.

Recently, Carolyn Brunelle a CTL Fellow of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department, presented multiple lectures to the Moorestown Friends School.

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Carolyn Brunelle visited Moorestown Friends School to give two presentations to students regarding the Muslim world. The first lecture was presented to more than three hundred Upper School students and faculty and covered topics on terrorism, Islamophobia, and interpretations of Islam.  She also delivered personal stories about her experiences in Egypt allowing students to connect and understand more about the Muslim world. Brunelle’s second lecture entitled Islam: Unity and Diversity was presented to two hundred Middle School students and provided insight on Islamic principles, basic Arabic phrases, and a context for the images and information our students consume in the media. After each presentation, students asked great questions that allowed Brunelle to explore more ideas about the topics.

If you are a K-12 teacher and would like to book a speaker to come to your school, please email the Middle East Center at

The Middle East Center Translation Contest 2016 Winner is Ariel Resnikoff

The 2016 Penn Middle East Center Translation Contest focused on the translation of contemporary Hebrew texts from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The translations had to be at least one full page and were judged on their accuracy, style and grammar. 

This year, the Middle East Center is proud to announce Ariel Resnikoff as the winner of the Translation Contest. His translation of "Siftah" by Avoth Yeshurun was incredibly well done. Only a few of Yeshurun's have ever been accurately translated and, as a result, "Siftah" was an incredibly challenging poem to translate. Despite this challenge, Ariel's finished product was impressive and accurate. 

Ariel Resnikoff is a poet, translator and editor. His most recent works include the chapbook, Between Shades (Materialist Press, 2014) and the collaborative pamphlet and Ten Four: Poems, Translations, Variations (OS Press, 2015), with Jerome Rothenberg. Ariel is an editor-at-large on Global Modernists on Modernism: An Anthology (forthcoming Bloomsbury, 2017) and curates the "Multilingual Poetics" reading/talk series at Kelly Writers House. In 2013 he received a Dorot Fellowship & spent a year in Israel/Palestine studying Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French and Arabic poetries. Ariel first came to the work of Avoth Yeshurun as a student of the Hebrew-American poet, Harold Schimmel and the Israeli poet, Yoram Verete. His translations from the Hebrew of Yeshurun, Schimmel, and Verete have appeared in various publications, including the poetry/poetics web-journal, Wave Composition & the Jewish Daily Forward. Ariel is currently reading for a PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania and lives with his wife, Rivka Weinstock, in the Cedar Park neighborhood of West Philadelphia.

This is the second year of the Middle East Center Translation Contest. The award will focus on the translation of a different language from the Middle East each year. 

UPENN’s National Resource Centers Are Now Accepting Applications for the Master Teacher Fellowship in Global Education

Attention K-12 and Community College Educators!

The Master Teacher Fellowship in Global Education will be awarded to two teachers this April. The winning fellows must be K-14 teachers in the Delaware Valley who have shown substantial commitment to incorporating global studies into the school or classroom.

Each fellow will receive a $500 stipend to be used for conference/training registration, travel to a conference/training, classroom materials, etc. The Master Teacher Fellows will serve as education ambassadors for the University of Pennsylvania's South Asia and Middle East Centers from April 2015 to April 2016 and lead one public workshop for pre-service and current educators. Upon completion of the fellowship, a brief report will be required.

**Educators from HBCUs, MSIs & Community Colleges, people of color, people with disabilities, women, and LGBT candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, complete the online application form and send your current resume/CV to

Application Deadline: Sunday April 10, 2016 11:59 PM

The Middle East Center Undergraduate Essay Contest 2016 is now accepting submissions

The Middle Center (MEC) at the University of Pennsylvania is now accepting submissions for our 2016 Essay Contest. The competition is open to all current Penn undergraduates. Essays may deal with any topic within the context of the modern Middle East/North Africa. Papers addressing any aspect of the region from the late 18th century to present will be considered for the prize. All entries should be the student’s original work and previously not published elsewhere.

There will be a first place prize of $500 awarded to the winner. The Center will also award one honorable mention prize of $200.

Please submit entries to with the subject, “Undergraduate Essay Contest,” no later than Monday, March 28, 2016 by 5 p.m. Essays should range from 3000 to 5000 words, not including notes, charts, appendices and bibliography. Please use MLA citation when submitting papers.

Middle East Center Fall 2015 Newsletter Released: See where we have been in 2015!

The Middle East Center Fall 2015 Newletter has been released. It includes information regarding various events the Center has recently held, details on K-12 student outreach programs, programs completed with local community colleges, and a spotlight on staff member, Alex DeBerardinis. For more information about upcoming events please visit the homepage of the MEC website! To download the full newsletter, please click on the link below.

The Middle East Center (MEC)Translation Contest for 2015 is now accepting submissions. This year the contest will consider original translations of modern Hebrew texts from the 20th and 21st centuries. Translations must be at least one full page of text (double-spaced) of either prose or poetry that currently do not have published English translation. Submissions will be judged on accuracy, style and grammar.

By submitting an entry, contestants agree that the translation is their original work.  Along with their translations, entrants should also truthfully indicate their level of Hebrew (one year, two years, heritage speaker, native speaker, etc.). This competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania.

Entries can be submitted to with the subject, “MEC Translation Contest: Modern Hebrew,” by December 4, 2015 at 5 p.m. 

MEC Affiliated Faculty, Huda J. Fakhreddine, publishes Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition

The Middle East Center would like to congratulate Huda J. Fakhreddine (Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature at the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations) on the publication of her new book, Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition.

In Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition, Fakhreddine expands the study of metapoesis to include the Abbasid age in Arabic literature. Through this lens that is often used to study modernist poetry of the 20th and the 21st century, this book detects and examines a meta-poetic tendency and a self-reflexive attitude in the poetry of the first century of Abbasid poets. What and why is poetry? Are questions the Abbasid poets asked themselves with the same persistence and urgency their modern successor did. This approach to the poetry of the Abbasid age serves to refresh our sense of what is “modernist” or “poetically new” and detach it from chronology.

Huda Fakhreddine is a specialist in Arabic literature. Her work focuses on modernist movements or trends in Arabic poetry and their relationship to the Arabic literary tradition. Fakhreddine has also explored Translation Studies, the politics of translation and its role in creating the image and status of Arabic literature in other languages. She holds an MA in English literature from the American University of Beirut and a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Indiana University, Bloomington.

MEC Participates in EdCamp
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Claudia Cohen Hall, Terrace Room
Williams Hall, 2nd Floor
Twitter: #edcampDVIS (for more pictures)

On Thursday, August 6, 2015, over 60 educators from across the Delaware Valley and Philadelphia area convened on Penn campus for a day-long EdCamp program, an “unconference” for K-12 teachers and administrators. EdCamp Delaware Valley Independent Schools (DVIS) was generously sponsored by Edu-Tech Academic Solutions of Malvern, PA, and co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies, South Asia Center, Middle East Center, and American Center for Mongolian Studies, at Penn.

EdCamps are teacher gatherings, or "un-conferences," that facilitate personalized professional development through voluntary, participant-driven sessions. Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the conference organizers, the agenda is created by the teacher participants at the start of the program. The EdCamp model of “unconference” began in Philadelphia in 2010, more than 700 Edcamps have been held internationally, in 25 different countries and 140 cities.

On August 17, 2015, the EdCamp Foundation announced that they are the recipients of a $2 million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This will provide EdCamp with a path to take EdCamp to greater heights, offering opportunities for EdCamp to develop “EdCamp in A Box,” “Discovery Grants,” and Regional Organizer Summits.

Teachers who attended the EdCamp on August 6th presented on session topics including: Using the City as your Classroom, Shakespeare, Tech, and Students, Teaching Cultural Bias and Social Justice in Primary Grades, and Global Ed Resources in Philadelphia. The full schedule, along with public notes, can be found here.

Attendees showed visible excitement and energy throughout the day and post-event evaluations also demonstrated the success of the program. Of survey respondents, 76% said that they agree that EdCamp helped grow their professional learning network, 76% reported that they will implement a new idea from EdCamp into their classroom for this upcoming year, and 95% agreed that EdCamps are a great way to deliver professional development.

The Centers at Penn also believe that the EdCamp model is a strong and desirable method of professional development for K-12 teachers and administrators, and look forward to sponsoring future EdCamps for our teacher constituents.

Teacher Training, "Turkey: Then and Now", successfully completed
August 21, 2015
3907 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6031

On August 21, 2015, the Middle East Center conducted a teacher-training workshop called, “Turkey: Then and Now”. The center hosted thirteen teachers from a wide range of schools across Greater Philadelphia, for an intimate and engaging workshop on teaching Turkey in K-12 classrooms. The event was also an opportunity for participants of the Middle East Center 2011 Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad , “American Issues in a Global Context: Turkey in the World”, to report back on teaching tools gained from their six week teacher training trip in Turkey.

The workshop started with a lecture from Labaron Palmer. Labaron is currently a doctoral student in the department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University. His most recent academic interests have been focused on the confluence of theory and practice as it relates to the distinctive issues that are impacting major cities in the U.S., Middle East and Africa including the intersections of social equity, economic development and environmental awareness. For his portion of, “Turkey: Now and Then”, Labaron added spatial contextualization to conceptions of borders, migration and politics in Turkey, based on his experiences as a participant in the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad and his doctoral research at Temple. He concluded his presentation by demonstrating how teachers can use cognitive mapping as a technique to incorporate geography of the Middle East into K-12 curriculums.

The workshop concluded with a talk by Julie Lenard. After over ten years in education, primarily as an English teacher in Philadelphia, Julie Lenard founded The Storyologist, LLC. The Storyologist provides writing consulting, writing coaching, workshops and helps educators use stories as a powerful education tool for teaching global curriculums. For her part of, “Turkey: Now and Then”, Julie examined different Turkish stories and perspectives from the summer of 2011, based on experiences as a participant in the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad trip. She also presented strategies for using stories in the classroom to teach and learn about cultural identity.

Dr. Sharkey's Seminar Explores Historical Ties between Penn and the Middle East 

Since the inception of first Arabic professorship in the United States in 1782, the University of Pennsylvania has been a pioneering institution for the study of Middle East. The Penn Museum’s engagement in the region through excavations and expeditions goes back to the nineteenth century. To explore these strong historical ties, Dr. Heather J. Sharkey, an associate professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, offered a freshman seminar in fall 2014. To read more about Dr. Sharkey’s seminar “Here and Over There: Penn, Philadelphia, and the Middle East” and students’ experience please click here