After graduating from Brown '14.5, I moved to Jordan, where I worked in humanitarian aid and the performing arts for almost two years. I was co-managing a local arts studio and doing measurement and evaluation consulting for aid organizations when I got the opportunity to join Middlebury's School in Jordan as a Resident Coordinator in 2016. Last summer, while in Connecticut visiting my family, I began to talk with refugee and recently arrived Arabic-speaking families in the area about the hardships they've faced upon arriving to the US. Through these conversations, I began to realize that the Arabic students I was working with in Jordan could make an impact in these families' lives, and vice versa.
Middlebury College agreed to support the kind of program I envisioned, and the result is Jiran, a brand-new summer program for colloquial Arabic. The program pairs Arabic students with underserved Arabic-speaking families in New Britain, Connecticut for an intensive linguistic and intercultural learning experience. Students receive daily Arabic instruction, volunteer placements with organizations serving refugees and immigrants in the US, and lectures by experts in forced migration and intercultural development.