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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.

Ancient Middle East: Using STEM to Analyze the Past

On January 27th, 2018, the Middle East Center partnered with the Penn Museum to put on a teacher training workshop entitled "Ancient Middle East: Using STEM to Analyze the Past". The goal was to assist teachers in understanding more about how archaeologists use scientific analysis to understand the people of ancient Mesopotamia. It began with an activity to explore unfamiliar objects, then a tour the Artifact Lab with conservator Tessa Alarcan Martin to hear about her preparations for the new Middle East Galleries. Participants heard from Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau of the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM), in a talk about her scientific analysis of ancient Middle East ceramics. The day finished with a STEM-focused interactive workshop that examined ceramic slipper coffins from the Mesopotamian city of Nippur. ACT 48 Credits provided for PA Educators.

Junior Model UN Diplomat Program: January 9, January 29 and February 2, 2018

For decades, the Junior United Nations Program organized by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has taught regional middle school students how to act as international diplomats, providing several training sessions throughout the spring to culminate in a mock United Nations summit. Middle East Center teamed up with the Penn Museum to support this effort by providing students and teachers with a global education for the start of the program.

Addressing the Issue of Terrorism in K-12 Education

On November 13th, 2017, the Pulitzer Center's Alice Su gave a presentation at Camden County College on how to have meaningful conversations with students on the issue of terrorism in the classroom. She was followed by a dinner and a moderated discussion with fellow Pulitzer Center affiliate Fareed Mostoufi. Teachers received a certificate noting their participation in the workshop.

Speakers' Bureau: Early Mesopotamian Civilzation

Daniel Patterson, PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania gave a lecture titled, "Early Mesopotamian Civilzation" to students at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School as part of the Middle East Center's speaker bureau series. 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.

Pop-Up for Peace

Kutztown Area School District and Kutztown University celebrated Peace Day, hosted by "Peace.Love.Kutztown" on Sept. 21. Observed around the world on Sept. 21, International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations declaring a day to “commemorate and strengthen the ideas of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” This year Kutztown students from elementary through college celebrated Day of Peace. Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher attended the event and helped organize events for the students related to promoting peace in the Middle East and cross cultural understanding.

Teacher Professional Development: Middle East Crossroads of Culture

On August 24, sixteen K-12 teachers participated in a professional development workshop on cultural heritage preservation in conflicts areas co-organized by the Penn Museum and the Middle East Center. The workshop featured a presentation by Dr. Lauren Ristvet, one of the curators of the Crossroads of Culture exhibit, a visit of the exhibit and a hands-on workshop where the teachers experienced the meaning and the art of adornment in Mesopotamia.      


Twenty K-12 teachers from the Greater Philadelphia Area participates in the Global Summer Institute

During the week of July 17-21, 2017, the Middle East Center, the South Asia Center, the Department of Africana Studies, the Center for East Asian Studies and Penn Museum, organized a workshop titled "Legendary Empires: Power, People & Politics: A Workshop for Teachers" on empires in the past and the present. Dr. Brian Spooner, Dr. Tuna Artun, Mr. Brahim El Guabli, Mr. David Dettman and Dr. Lee Cassanelli among others gave presentations from different regional perspectives on various aspects of of the ntion of empire. Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture gave a performance where they displayed Arabic and African music. Throughout the week, the teachers had the opportunity to engage with the speakers in Q&A. At the end of the week, the teachers were given time  to reflect on various questions related to the content of the workshop. They also gave presentations which adressed how they plan to incorporate the content of the workshop into their teaching. Participating teachers will receive Act-48 credit.     

Middle East Center Teacher Training Workshop on Migration 

On July 10, 2017 the Middle East Center organized a successful teacher training workshop on Migration in partnership with Center for Civic Responsibility and Leadership at Camden County College and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Twenty-two teachers from various school districts in New Jersey participated in this daylong workshop. Mr. Nimrod Ben-Zeev (Department of History) and Dr. Salam al-Kuntar (Penn Museum Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Archeology) from the University of Pennsylvania and Robin Shulman (Freelance Journalist based in NYC) and Fareed Mostoufi (Senior Education Manager at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting) gave presentations about various aspects of migration and discussed how they can be addressed in the classroom. The teachers had a chance to engage with the presenters during Q&A sessions after each presentation. Participating teachers will be receiving NJ Professional Development credit. 

Middle East Center Teacher Training Workshop on Islamophobia 

The Middle East Center continues to enhance knowledge about the region and support K-12 educators on important classroom issues. On June 27, 2017, the Middle East Center organized a successful teacher training workshop on Islamophobia in partnership with Center for Civic Responsibility and Leadership at Camden County College. Twenty-four teachers from various school districts in New Jersey participated in this daylong workshop. Dr. Jamal Elias (Department of Religious Studies), Dr. Cheikh Babou (Department of History), and Mr. Juan Castrillon (Department of Music) from the University of Pennsylvania gave presentations about various aspects of Islamic culture, history, society, and music. The teachers had a chance to engage with area studies experts during Q&A sessions after each presentation. Participating teachers will be receiving NJ Professional Development credit. 

Brahim El Guabli gives presentation about Ramadan to K-5 students at Friends Central School

The Middle East Center's Outreach Programs work with schools and colleges, community and religious groups, and the general public to raise awareness and understanding of issues in the Middle East and their importance to our communities. One such program is the Speakers' Bureau Program which puts advanced graduate students in contact with schools in the Greater Philadelphia Area. 

On June 6, 2017 Brahim El Guabli, a PhD-candidate in Comparative Literature at Princeton University, gave a presentation on Ramadan to teacher Anastasia Shown's class of K-5 students at Friends Central School within the context of the Middle East Center's Speakers' Bureau program. Brahim also brought a set of children's books about Ramadan which he donated to the school. The book donation project is part of the West Philly Coalition Against Islamophobia.