section1 center image

Outreach News

The Center has been commended by the Department of Education for its Outreach Program, which works with schools and colleges, community and religious groups, government and military institutions, and the general public to raise awareness and understanding of issues in the Middle East and their importance to our communities.

Announcing the Winners of the 2015 Master Teacher Fellowship in Global Education!

The Middle East Center and South Asia Center are pleased to announce this year's winners of the Master Teacher Fellowship in Global Education: Danielle Heeney of Penn Treaty School and Sarah L. Sharp of William Penn Charter School.  Congratulations!

Danielle Heeney was born and raised in Philadelphia among a family of teachers. She has been a special education teacher in the Philadelphia School District for ten years and is now the Special Education Liaison at Penn Treaty School. In the last ten years, she has had the opportunity to work with students with learning, emotional/behavioral, intellectual disabilities and autism. The growth and progress of her students has inspired her to keep learning, both in the classroom and out. She is pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management with a concentration in Special Education as part of the Urban Special Education Leaders of Tomorrow (USELT) project. Heeney takes advantage of school breaks by traveling, her other great passion. For example, she has participated in two Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad in Ethiopia and Morocco. She earned her TESOL certification in Ecuador, completed a special education course in Malaysia, and led teacher training in Ghana. She enjoys learning about other places and cultures and brings these experiences back to classroom.

Sarah L. Sharp is a social studies teacher in the upper school at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, where she teaches 9th, 11th, and 12th grades. Over the past decade, she began to travel internationally on a regular basis, taking a trip every other year or so.  Her hope has been that she would move well beyond what she could read, and bring home new awareness to energize her teaching and understanding of global citizenship.  Trips to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, as well as to Cuba, have formed the foundation for her courses in Global Studies.  She has used both blogging and photography, among other media, to create class projects and exhibits.  Ms. Sharp holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, where she specialized in U.S. and Latin American history.

The Master Teacher Fellowship in Global Education is awarded annually to two 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, or classroom materials.  The Master Teacher Fellows will also serve as ambassadors for the Centers from April 2015 - April 2016 and lead one public workshop for pre-service and current educators.

Western Asia Day at Penn

On March 24th, 2015, the Middle East Center hosted several students and their teachers from Moorestown Friends School as part of the its K-12 outreach programs. Students and teachers were particularly interested in learning about Middle Eastern countries and their cultures. To provide the visiting students with a diverse wealth of information on the subject matter, three Penn graduate students presented on the region and two major Middle Eastern countries. Osman Balkan, PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science, made a general introduction to the Middle East. Two other Penn graduate students Basak Taraktas (PhD Candidate in Political Science) and Ali Karjoo-Ravary (PhD Candidate in Religious Studies) talked about Turkey and Iran respectively. At the end of their presentations Penn students led a Q & A session with the high-schoolers and their teachers. The Middle East Center periodically hosts K-12 students or send qualified graduate students to schools in the greater Philadelphia area to enhance the knowledge about the region among K-12 educators and students.

2015 International Women's Day

On Wednesday, March 4th, International House Philadelphia hosted the extremely successful 2015 International Women’s Day.  A collaboration between numerous organizations including Penn’s Area Studies Centers, Penn Women’s Center, Asian American Studies, Graduate Center and Family Resource Center, International Women’s Day brought together over 100 people to listen to guest speakers and discuss this years theme “Global Migrant Rights and Justice.”  Five speakers, all of whom brought different expertise and unique experiences to the discussion, addressed the audience.  Ayodele Gansallo (Immigration Attorney and Educator), Mia-lia Kiernan (Founder and Organizer of 1 Love Movement), Shamaine Daniels (Harrisburg Councilwoman), Silvia Huerta (Student Activist) and Fariha Khan (Associate Director of Penn’s Asian American Studies and Event Moderator) each spoke on their respective areas of expertise and answered questions from the audience in an extraordinarily passionate and lively Q&A.  Guests were also treated to dinner, dessert and refreshments.  The evening’s program was opened by a wonderful performance from the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir, a vocal ensemble dedicated to celebrating “the diversity of women’s lives and culture.”

Penn Middle East Center and South Asia Center Launch New Pulitzer International Student Reporting Fellowship Program

On February 5th, the South Asia Center, the Middle East Center, and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting hosted a two-part event to officially launch the Pulitzer International Student Reporting Fellowship Program.  The event, co-hosted by South Asia Center Assistant Director Dr. Raili Roy and Middle East Center Associate Director Dr. Mehmet Darakcioglu, served as an information session for students interested in international reporting. Additionally, the Centers screened No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, International Emmy Award Nominee and Winner of a 2014 BRITDOC Impact Award, and played host to the filmmaker, Callum Macrae.

The event gave students the opportunity to learn about the Pulitzer International Student Reporting Fellowship, a program co-sponsored by the South Asia Center and Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The event provided essential information to potential applicants: 

  • Any Penn student who is going to South Asia or the Middle East over the summer of 2015 is welcome to apply.  Previous journalism experience is not a requirement but an open mind and a willingness to write, photograph and/or create videos is necessary. Center editors will work closely with the fellows on storytelling strategies, reporting methods and travel logistics. The fellows will participate in a Pulitzer Center-conducted workshop before leaving as well as mentorship and editorial support in the field.
  • The 2 winning fellows, one focused on South Asia and one on the Middle East,  will complete news articles, short videos, slideshows or other media products, with editorial support and mentorship. The fellows will help illuminate another part of the world for the Penn community and beyond. The fellows’ work will be published on the Pulitzer Center site and possibly other outlets. The fellows will also be expected to participate in outreach efforts for the South Asia Center or Middle East Center upon return to campus.
  • The winning fellows will receive $500 upon completion of the deliverables, plus invaluable editorial support and mentorship
  • Application Deadline is March 31st, 2015

Students were also treated to a screening of No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka as well as a panel discussion with No Fire Zone filmmaker Callum Macrae and Penn South Asia Studies Professor Teren Sevea.  They discussed the ongoing quest for truth, justice and accountability in the aftermath of Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war.

For more information on the Pulitzer International Student Reporting Fellowship Program, or to download a fellowship application, please visit https://www.sas.upenn.edu/mec/opportunities/pulitzer.   You may also want to visit the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

Penn Area Studies Centers Host "Asia Day" for Local High Schools

In partnership with the Penn Center for East Asian Studies, the South Asia Center and the Penn Museum, the Middle East Center co-sponsored “Asia Day” for local area high school students on February 11th, 2015.  Approximately 120 students from four area high schools participated in the daylong program.  This year’s Asia Day theme was “The Many Faces of Islam.”  Students listened to lectures, participated in Urdu and Arabic language classes, and took a tour through the Penn Museum.  The visiting students interacted with Penn staff and graduate students, took part in Q&A sessions and learned about a number of world regions. 

Following the morning session, the visiting students enjoyed a lunch featuring South Asian and East Asian cuisine.  After lunch, the students were treated to three different performances highlighting unique aspects of Asian and Middle Eastern culture.  Juan Ibrahim Castrillion, a Penn PhD student in Ethnomusicology, performed traditional Sufi music playing instruments such as ney and bendir.  Ibrahim Miari, a Lecturer of Modern Hebrew at Penn, performed a traditional Whirling Dervishes dance, accompanied by music performed by Mr. Castrillion.  Finally, the daylong program closed with a performance by Penn Masti, the university’s premier South Asian co-ed fusion dance team. 

MEC Hosts Students from Church Farm High School

On December 10, 2014 the Middle East Center hosted eight students and their teacher from the Church Farm School High School (Exton, Pennsylvania). The students, who are currently taking a class on the Middle East, wrote a policy paper on United States foreign policy options concerning the ongoing crisis in Syria. The Center’s Associate Director Dr. Mehmet Darakcioglu and Student Researcher Alex deBerardinis shared their feedbacks about the paper, each providing constructive criticism and in-depth information on the subject material. The event brought together enthusiastic students willing to learn about the Middle East and the Center staff willing to share their knowledge about the region.

Speakers Bureau Program at the Middle East Center

The Middle East Center runs a robust Speakers Bureau Program in the greater Philadelphia area. Our Speakers Bureau program aims to help K-12 students and educators expand their knowledge about the Middle East.  Between September and November 2014, the Center arranged for four Speakers Bureau visits to schools including Motivation High School and Julia Masterman Middle and High School. Advanced graduate students Alon Tam and Carolyn Brunelle shared their knowledge about the region with K-12 students and their teachers during their visits to these schools.

 

Just to highlight one of these visits, on September 17, 2014, James Ryan, Ph.D. Candidate at The University of Pennsylvania, was the guest lecturer for Jake Greenberg’s Modern Middle East class at Moorestown High School. Mr. Greenberg’s course involves a survey of Middle East history from World War I to the war in Iraq. Major themes include: the emergence of nation states after colonialism; long-term historical, technological, and cultural trends in the region; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Islam and the West; and North Africa’s burgeoning societies. Students learn from a number of guest lecturers and take various field trips to experience Middle Eastern life in America.

 

Mr. James Ryan who researches the late Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey led a general discussion about the Middle East. For more information on this Speakers Bureau visit please click here and here.

Public Outreach Highlights: Iranian-American Novelists Event

In partnership with multiple Penn entities and the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Middle East Center organized several public events to raise awareness on issues related to the Middle East through creative programming. On March 6, 2014, the Center brought five Iranian-American novelists to Kelly Writers House for an evening of book reading for an event entitled "Contemporary American Fiction: Five Women, Five Books." The event brought campus community together with literature enthusiast Philadelphiangs for a cosy evening of book reading. Anita Amirrezvani, Marjan Kamali, Persis Karim, Porochista Khakpour, and the Center Director Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet read excerpts from their works of fiction.

To watch a recording of this event please click here.

STEM Outreach at the Middle East Center

Through creative teacher training programs, the Middle East Center combines STEM outreach with area studies curriculum training for K-12 educators. This year the Center worked with the Franklin Institute and African Studies Center at Penn to organize a workshop on math education in Egypt and the United States. Dr. Idris Stovall, the Director of STEM Youth and School Programs at the Franklin Institute, discussed the similarities and differences in math curriculum in these countries throughout his presentation. Ten K-12 educators participated in the workshop to receive professional development credit. Dr. Stovall, who is also a lecturer at Penn's Mathematics department, can be seen sharing his insights with teachers during the workshop on May 1, 2014.

K-16 Educator Workshop on Media and Global Education

In partnership with South Asia, East Asia, and Africa Studies Centers at Penn, the Middle East Center organized a teacher training workshop on Media and Curriculum Design on May 31, 2014. 12 educators from Delaware Valley region participated in the workshop that opened with Meenoo Rami's presentation entitled "Teachers' Practice in a Connected World." Sameena K. Mughal discussed the Arabian nights in her talk "Shaherazade and Shaherazade's Daughters: Muslim, Feminist, Literary Icons of 21st Century." The Center Associate Director Dr. Darakcioglu and South Asia Center Assistant Director Dr. Roy were also in attendance to inform participants about various teacher training programs available through Penn's National Resource Centers.