Center News

Our Director Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Professor of History, and Prof. Beth S. Wenger, Director the Jewish Studies Center and Associate Professor of History, have received funding from the Mellon Cultural Diversity Conference Fund to organize a conference discussing gender in Judaism and Islam.

Global Education Lab: Workshop for teachers

The Middle East Center, in collaboration with three other National Resource Centers at Penn and Global Education Lab, will host a workshop for teachers on October 24, 2009.  This workshop will provide teachers and administrators with the information and experience they need to establish a new global education program, deepen and enrich existing programs, and to provide an inspiring and invigorating intellectual experience.

For more information, please visit

A Two-session Seminar at Camden County College

The Middle East Center and the Center for Civic Leadership & Responsibility at Camden County College present a two-session seminar "Breaking Barriers to Better Understanding: Teaching The Middle East in the K-12 Classroom" on October 5 and 12.  The Middle East will be assessed from a multidisciplinary perspective.  Students will discuss Foreign Policy, History, Religion and Culture with area experts highlighting how to best integrate the Middle East into the classroom.  Experts will illuminate how regions differ, explaining the peculiarities of Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, as well as how they fit into the multicultural and geopolitical framework. 

For registration, please download this.

International Student Welcome Reception

The International Student Welcome Reception is a special event hosted by International Classroom and sponsored by more than 50 colleges, universities, and programs to welcome new international students and scholars to the Delaware Valley. The 2009 event was held on October 9, 2009. This free event draws around 1,000 students and scholars from around 90 different countries each year.

Different college and community performing arts groups loved to share their talent and skills with the international guests. Hype, Penn University’s multi-cultural fusion dance group; Penn Chinese Dance Group; Thillana, Penn’s premier student classical dance group; Mutya, a Filipino dance group; LaSalle University’s Neo-African Drums’n Dancez; Rowan University musicians; and Anne Hagert from the University of the Arts have all volunteered their time and expertise to entertain our international guests.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty Program

Global Education Motivators, UNA-Greater Philadelphia and the Council of Organizations, the Middle East Center and other organizations are co-sponsoring a Stand Against Poverty event and an awareness of the work to fight poverty.  The first session will be a 45-minute program structured with support resources from the StandAgainstPoverty campaign. It will be followed by a 45-minute interactive videoconference on the work being done in Murutunguru Village to eliminate poverty in their community.

On September 26, Penn Museum and several organizations hosted an afternoon event as the Museum celebrated the opening of His Golden Touch: The Gordion Drawings of Piet de Jong with a wider look at the culture of Turkey.  The afternoon featured Turkish dancing and music, plus an authentic cuisine demonstration, talks on ancient and modern Turkey, crafts, and more. Throughout the day families enjoyed creating traditional Turkish arts and crafts by participating in an Ebru workshop to learn the ancient Turkish art of marbling or "cloud painting" on paper.

The Middle East Center is pleased to announce that NELC Professor Roger Allen has been appointed as the Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Middle East Center supports the ATA school for its educational program teaching Turkish language and culture to children and adults in the greater Philadelphia area.  ATA school is established by TAFSUS which is founded in 1966 to promote better understanding and friendship between the Turkish and American communities.

For more information about the classes, please visit

The University of Pennsylvania hosted the 2009 Summer Persian Teachers’ Workshop for Professional Curriculum and Materials Development June 4-7, 2009.  The workshop was funded by a Startalk Summer Grant, and co-sponsored by the National Middle Eastern Languages Resource Center at Brigham Young University, the American Association of Teachers of Persian and the following Penn Penn Centers: the Penn Language Center, the Multimedia Resource Center, the Language Resource Center and the Middle East Center.  This workshop brought together 20 Persian teachers from across the United States to discuss a variety of issues current in Persian instruction, including teaching methodology, use of technology, curriculum, heritage vs. non-heritage students, multi-media teaching materials, and education and performance assessment.  Following the workshop, participants continued working on their collaborative projects online.

The Middle East Center and Penn Museum's Education Department hosted the first Middle East Day at the Museum on June 5th , 2009. We welcomed a group of 85 students from the School District of Philadelphia (Motivation High School, Ben Franklin HS, Leeds Military Academy) and Camden School District (Pine Point Middle School). One of the highlights of this one-day event was the keynote address by Carolyn Baugh, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Penn. Ms. Baugh's speech discussed Arabic poetry including that of pre-Islam; Judeo-Arabic poetry; Persian poetry; and Andalusian poetry from Spain. She also talked about the Arabic influence on today's pop culture.

The students then got a chance to explore Penn Museum's magnificent collection. The guided tours covered the sections on Israel, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Students were grouped into two workshops; one examined “Art and Architecture of the Middle East,” the other, “Life of a Teenager in Turkey.” For lunch, students were served Middle Eastern food. In the afternoon, Marie Brown, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Penn, delivered a talk on life in Sudan.

As the capstone to the day's events, there was a musical performance and interactive presentation featuring musicians from Spice Route Ensemble, a local band that specializes in Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean music.

Here is what some of our participants had to say about Middle East Day:

"Middle East Day was a wonderful opportunity for area teachers and students to actively engage with Middle Eastern and North African culture" - Presenter Marie Grace Brown

"Middle East Day helped students gain a diverse understanding of the Middle East from the disciplines of History, Society, Art and Music" - James Ryan, MEC Administrative Assistant and event organizer.