Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student Spotlight: Ben Gladstone ’18

Name: Ben Gladstone '18

Hometown: Brookline, MA

Concentration: Middle East Studies

What are your plans for this summer?
This summer, I will be studying Arabic in Madaba, Jordan, with the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, CLS is an immersion program that sends American students all over the world to build relationships, improve linguistic skills, and deepen cultural understanding.

As a concentrator in Middle East Studies at the Watson Institute, my studies have included discussions of refugee issues, and I am excited to take Professor Sarah Tobin’s course on Southwest Asian refugees and displacement next spring. I will utilize my time in Jordan, which is a crucial actor in absorbing Syrian, Palestinian, and other refugees, to become more familiar with the country’s responses to refugee crises and how they have affected Jordanian culture and society so that I can get the most out of my studies at Brown.

In addition to my academic studies, I am involved with relevant social action work through student organizations. As president of the Brown University Coalition for Syria, I have organized opportunities to educate students on campus about some of today’s refugee crises, and have mobilized my fellow students to engage in political action to demand that the United States absorb refugees. I also lead Brown Students for Responsible Policies in Yemen, which advocates against imperial American policies in Yemen and which addresses refugee issues there. My time in Jordan will allow me to improve both my Arabic language skills and my understanding of these crises so that I can lead such student efforts more effectively.