Middle East Studies

Benjamin Gladstone `18 | Gaining New Perspectives on Complex Issues

You traveled to Madaba, Jordan, with the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) last summer, tell us about that experience.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to travel to Madaba, Jordan, with the Critical Language Scholarship. My time there dramatically improved my Arabic-speaking skills but, more significantly, it allowed me the opportunity to engage with another culture and to think deeply and comparatively about life in Jordan, the United States, and Israel, while challenging my preconceived notions about history, politics, and human rights.

You have been active in the Brown community as President of the Brown University Coalition for Syria, Brown Students for Responsible Policies in Yemen, and Brown Students for Israel. How have your studies as an MES concentrator informed your individual activism?

My studies as an MES concentrator have allowed me to deal critically with Southwest Asian history and refugee issues. Through courses and conversations with fellow concentrators, I’ve gained new perspectives that have helped me grapple with difficult questions surrounding Syria, Yemen, Israel, and Palestine. I have applied those questions and ways of thinking into my advocacy and activist work, organizing events with Watson faculty and otherwise promoting spaces on campus for critical discussion and engagement with competing narratives.