Center News

Dr. Kashani-Sabet's Interview on Iran Nuclear Deal

The Middle East Center Director Dr. Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Robert I. Williams Term Professor of History and an expert on Iran, was interviewed by the Brazilian weekly news magazine ISTOÉ on Iran nuclear deal. To read the full text of this interview (in Portuguese) please click here

Global Education Workshop at Camden County College

The Middle East Center raises awareness among K-12 educators about the region and assists them in internationalizing their curriculum through teacher training programs in global education.

Most recently, the Center organized a two-day teacher-training workshop (July 15 through 16, 2015) entitled Teaching About the Middle East, South and East Asia in partnership with the Center for Civic Responsibility and Leadership at the Camden County College. The workshop was also co-sponsored by the American Center for Mongolian Studies, American Research Institute in Turkey South Asia Center, Center for East Asian Studies, and South Asia Center. Fourteen K-12 teachers from six New Jersey school districts (Camden and Burlington Counties), attended the workshop that provided NJ professional development credit.  

Four area studies specialists including Dr. Michael Boyle (Assistant Professor of Political Science, LaSalle University), Dr. Larry Goodson (Professor of Middle East Studies, Army War College), Mr. David Dettmann (Director, American Center for Mongolian Studies), and Dr. Pushkar Shoni (South Asian Studies Librarian, University of Pennsylvania) presented on a range of topics and answered questions from participants. Topics they covered included the roots of social revolutions, international security, Muslim minorities of East Asia (Uighurs), and South Asian culture and history.

Teachers also had the chance to work one-on-one with a professional international education consultant Dr. Brandon Wiley, Founder/President, GlobalEdLeader. On the final day of the workshop, Dr. Wiley presented on how to create an international curriculum. He then led an interactive session with the teachers and worked with them creating new curriculum based on the topics covered by the area studies experts. 

The Center thanks Mr. Jack Pesda and Mrs. Barbara Palmer at the Camden County College for their work in organizing this successful educator workshop.

Photo: Dr. Wiley presenting on global education during the workshop.

Announcing the Winners of the 2015 Undergraduate Essay Award

The Middle East Center awarded the Undergraduate Essay Award 2015 to Nicoló Marzaro for his paper entitled “History Reoccurring in Afghanistan: How the U.S. Failed to Learn from the Past.”

Nicoló Marzaro is a sophomore studying political science and concentrating in international relations, and minoring in French. In the summer of 2015, Nicoló will be working on a research project on mortgage electronic registration system, the foreclosure crisis, and transaction costs economics with Dr. Natalya Vinokurova at Wharton’s Management Department and PURM program.

The Middle East Center also began to confer honorable mention award to an outstanding essay. This year’s honorable mention award was given to Alex DeBerardinis essay entitled “Drone Warfare and the Attack on Nation-State Sovereignty.”

Alex is currently a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences double Majoring in History and Modern Middle East Studies with a Minor in Political Science. His experience prior to joining the Middle East Center includes time at the National Constitution Center, the Global Philadelphia Association as well as his own start-up. He is extremely interested in the history, culture, languages and contemporary issues of the Middle East. In his free time, Alex is an ardent reader, a big European soccer fan and enjoys discussing and learning about World War II.


Pulitzer International Student Reporting 
Fellowship Awards 2015 

The Middle East Center and South Asia Center announces the winners Pulitzer International Student Reporting 
Fellowship.  This year's fellowships are awarded to Priya Ramchandra and Farzana Shah.

Priya Ramchandra is a junior at Penn majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior. She will be spending the summer in Kathmandu, Nepal interning with United Helping Hands as part of Penn's International Internship Program. She will be reporting on the roll out of universal healthcare in the country and exploring access and utilization.

Farzana Shah is a master’s student in the School of Nursing. She will be traveling to Tehran, Iran on a medical mission with the William Norvick Global Cardiac Alliance to provide free pediatric cardiac care to Iranian children and training medical professionals. She will serve as an IC nurse and educator. For a Penn Current article on featuring the award click here.

Photo: Journalist Alice Su is Skyping with Penn students during the award ceremony on April 16, 2015.

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.

Middle East Center Translation Contest 2015

The 2015 Penn Middle East Center Translation Contest focused on the translation of contemporary Persian Texts from the 20th and 21st Centuries. The translations had to be at least one full page of either prose or poetry and were judged on their accuracy, style and grammar

This year, the Middle East Center is proud to announce Yasaman Givi as the winner of the Translation Contest. Her fantastic translation of Sohrab Sepehri’s Poem “Roshani, Man, Gol, Ab —Light, Myself, Flower, Water” was extremely well done. Sepehri practiced “New Poetry” meaning poetry that has neither meter nor rhyme. Born in 1928 and dying in 1980, Sepehri is a true poet of the 20th century. Givi herself is a third year law student at Penn.  

This is the first year of the Middle East Center Translation Contest. The award will focus on a different language from the Middle East each year. Next year’s contest will feature either Arabic, Hebrew or Turkish. 

The Center Launches Internship and Career Workshops for Students

On April 23rd, 2015, the Penn Middle East Center, with the help of Penn in Washington, hosted an Internship and Career Workshop. This workshop helped educate students from many different departments on the nature of the searching, applying and getting the internships and jobs that they want. Students from Modern Middle East Studies, the Political Science Department, the History Department and the International Relations Department were all in attendance.

Dr. Deirdre Martinez, Director of Penn in Washington, helped answer broad questions about employment in Washington D.C. and provided general advice on working in the private sector versus the public realm. Autumn Patterson, a Penn graduate, provided invaluable advice on applying to and working for the State Department.

During the Q&A session, good questions were followed up with insightful answers. It seemed as though everyone who came to the event left with a better sense of their career goals and how to achieve them. 

High-Profile Lectures at the Middle East Center Raises Awareness  

The Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania continues to enhance the knowledge about the region throughout the campus community and general public through high-profile lectures on a frequent basis. Just to highlight a few, in the past two weeks, two very distinguished academics, Dr. Abbas Milani from Stanford University and Dr. Michael Cook from Princeton University, traveled to Penn to participate in academic lectures hosted by the Middle East Center. 

On March 25th, Dr. Milani, the Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institute, spoke about the Future of Modernity in Iran. He began his discussion by commenting on alternative paradigms of modernity in Iran in the 1950's and 1960's and finished up with the current state of affairs in Iran and the future prospects of the country. The event was well attended by both Penn students and students from neighboring campuses like Drexel and Temple in addition to many members of the interested public in Philadelphia. Dr. Milani led an informative and engaging Q&A session with around 70 people attending the event. 

On April 2nd, Dr. Cook, the Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, explored the relationship between Muhammad and the Deputies he left in charge of Medina in his absence. Dr. Cook was able to decipher complex, ambiguous historical evidence and gave an extremely informative presentation that was academically accessible to many. His lecture was extremely well received, with around 65 students, academics and community members in attendance. His lecture was also covered by the Daily Pennsylvanian (Click here to view article in its entirety). 

These types of academic lectures, that are always free and open to public, are just one of many ways in which the Penn Middle East Center is contributes to the knowledge about the region at Penn and beyond.

Foreign Language and Area Fellowships Open Doors For Penn Students 

The Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, along with South Asia Center, African Studies Center, and the Center for East Asian Studies, has contributed to the study of foreign languages and international area studies at Penn for decades. At Penn, the Middle East Center, South Asia Center, and African Studies Center offer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for summer and the academic year to promote the study of various Less Commonly Taught Languages and international area studies among students after annual competitions. FLAS fellowships for the study of modern Arabic, Hebrew, Kurdish, Tajik, Turkish, and Persian are offered through the Middle East Center. Penn News featured an article on FLAS recipients, including Middle East Center FLAS fellows Mr. Zahir Rahman and Mr. Mohamed Abdelgany, and how these fellowships contributed to their career goals.

To read the full article please click here.

Arabic Language Immersion Preps Penn Senior for Government Service Career

Blake Harwood, a Modern Middle Eastern Studies and International Relations Major, will be graduating from Penn in May of 2015. It can certainly be said that language learning has been her passion at Penn, stemming from her winning a scholarship to study in Arabic in Cairo for six weeks in high school. Since this inaugural scholarship, Harwood has gone on to study Arabic and Spanish in Morocco and Tunisia multiple times having been awarded the prestigious Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), Critical Language Scholarship, and the David L. Boren Scholarship. The FLAS fellowship awarded through the Penn Middle East Center allowed Blake to study Arabic in Morocco in 2014. Boren L. Scholarship will require Harwood to contribute a year of government service after graduation. 

To read the full article at Penn News please click here.