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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.

Eisenhower Fellows Fatimah Alhamlan, Deema AlSekait, and Abdulwahab Al Betairi joined us for an engaging panel on the current state of Saudi Arabian society and its future.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Anna Viden, Program Coordinator of the Middle East Center. Topics covered included women in STEM, Saudi education, projects intended to transform and better Saudi society, and Saudi Vision 2030.

Journalist Emily Feldman and Senior Education manager Fareed Mostoufi from the Pulitzer Center held workshop on how to challenge stereotypes about women in the Middle East

On Tuesday August 14 thirteen K-12 educators took part in a stimulating workshop on how to challenge stereotypes about women in the Middle East in the classroom. The workshop was led by journalist Emily Feldman and Senior Education Manager Fareed Mostoufi from the Pulizer Center on Crisis Reporting. The workshop was sponsored by the Middle East Center and the Pulitzer Center.        

Penn PhD-Students Presented at the 2018 Global Leadership Seminar: Islam, Politics & Change in the Middle East organized for Philadelphia high school students by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and sponsored by the Middle East Center.

NELC Ph.D. Candidate Raha Rafii, Anthropology Ph.D. Candidate Robert Vigar and Political Science Ph.D. Candidate Victoria Gilbert all gave lectures during the Global Leadership Seminar which took place Monday July 9 - Friday July 13 at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. Raha gave a talk titled "Islam:Exploring the Faith and Religious Identity of the World's Second-Largest Religion". Robert Vigar's talk was titled "From the Iranian Revolution and Salafism to Moderates in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood: The Many Faces of Political Islam in the Middle East" and Victoria Gilbert's talk dealt with "A Clash of Civilizations? Political Islam's Relationship with the West". The Seminar also featured a trip to Washington D.C. where the students met with various representatives of policy think tanks and foreign embassies.             

Iran and the USA

On May 3rd, 2018, Raha Rafii delivered a lecture at the George Washington Carver High School in Philadelphia as part of the University of Pennsylvania Speakers' Bureau program. The subject of the lecture was Iran's relationship with the United States. K-12 teachers in the greater Philadelphia area can request a PhD student from Penn to provide a lecture on a Middle Eastern topic. The Middle East Center will organize the lecture and pay a speaker fee to the PhD student. For more information on the Speakers' bureau visit the Resources tab on the Middle East Center website.

Philadelphia Science Festival

On April 22nd, 2018, the Penn Museum and the Middle East Center participated in the Philadelphia Science Festival, a larger event held by the city that runs from April 20th-April 28th, dedicated to teaching science and STEM skills to K-12 students in a fun, enjoyable way. Participants were able to explore the new Middle East Galleries and learn about how ancient cities were formed. Families tested their engineering skill with games that simulated building ancient structures.

Engaging Students in International Issues: The Choices Approach

Sixteen regional teachers received training on contemporary political issues on March 17, 2018, as 3 the Middle East Center and Penn Museum hosted a special professional development opportunity in partnership with Brown University. Brown University’s award-winning Choices curricula offered approaches on the topics “The Middle East in Transition: Questions for U.S. Policy.” This participatory day introduced teachers to resources for approaching contested international issues in their high school classrooms. The day also featured the Penn Museum’s special exhibition, Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq. A guided tour of this gallery highlighted the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East, and introduced the international efforts by Penn Cultural Heritage Center for protecting cultural heritage.

Overall satisfaction rate of participating teachers was significantly high (3.9 out of 1-4 scale in the teacher survey). Teachers reported that they would use the unit contents by Applying the framework of deliberation, empowering students with info about argumentation, and critical reasoning. Following quotes from teacher reflections demonstrate the positive outcome of this professional development;

“Looking forward to applying what I learned and loved the interaction with the Penn Museum’s amazing collection!” “The most important information that I gained from this workshop is the ability to apply social studies conventions to current issues and global events – especially in terms of discussions from role play.” “The Syria exhibit helped me see some ways to remember the past as it relates to the present.”

World Culture Day

On March 9th, 2018, 119 regional high school students and 16 teachers participated in a special event, World Culture Day sponsored by the Middle East Center along with the South Asia Center and Penn Museum. This popular annual event, formerly known as Asia Day was revamped this year to provide more prominent focus on regional socio-political issues and cultures from Middle East. The day started with a keynote lecture by the Center’s guest speaker, Brahim El Guabli, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University. After keynote, students were separated into smaller groups to experience a guided-Egypt gallery tour and the International Classroom program, an interactive workshop facilitated by a Museum-affiliated Egyptologist. After the catering lunch, Middle East Center’s collaborator, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, a local arts-based non-profit organization engaged students in interactive Middle East music performance.

The majority of participants were from the Title I schools from the School District of Philadelphia. They enjoyed this special opportunity to participate in global learning program in a university context. 

The Origins of the Internationalization in Syria's Conflict

On February 27th, 2018, Upenn graduate student Victoria Gilbert gave a lecture at Central High School Philadelphia for a group of high school students. The topic of the lecture was "The Origins and the Internationalization in Syria's Conflict". Over 30 students were in attendance. K-12 teachers in the greater Philadelphia area can request a PhD student from Penn to provide a lecture on a Middle Eastern topic. The Middle East Center will organize the lecture and pay a speaker fee to the PhD student. For more information on the Speakers' bureau visit the Resources tab on the Middle East Center website.

PACIE-Penn Middle East Center "Educating the Educator" Workshop, Nationalism and Identity in the Era of Colonialism

On February 24th, 2018, the Penn Middle East Center and the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PACIE) collaborated to host the "PACIE-Penn Middle East Center "Educating the Educator" Workshop, Nationalism and Identity in the Era of Colonialism" Teacher Training Workshop. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate the teaching at the high school level of complex issues such as Colonialism, Nationalism and identity. By offering lectures and hands-on interactive modules which incorporate both maps and facilitated discussions on nationalism and identity the hope is that the teachers will find useful tools that they can incorporate in their teaching. 

Curricula generated from this workshop was be posted on the PA Department of Education’s SAS portal and tagged as meeting global education goals and skills. ACT-48 Credit was available to educators.

Palumbo Program

On Friday, February 7th, 134 students and 15 teachers from Academy at Palumbo High School ventured to the Penn Museum to take part in the International Classroom Program, a collaboration with the UPenn South Asia Center, the Middle East Center, and other university centers and globally focused non-profit organizations. The workshop, which teaches students about world cultures both past and present, incorporated key 21st Century Skills such as world languages, intercultural communication, and appreciation for cultural diversity. After a presentation and museum tour, students from Palumbo had a chance to see a performance by and hear from the International Classroom program presenter, Madhu Bora, a classically trained Indian dancer. Despite a snowy morning and Eagles Parade preparations, the event was a huge success.