A few weeks ago, Fulbright Program administrators from across the Middle East and North Africa convened in Jordan with their U.S.-based colleagues for a dynamic three-day workshop. The Binational Fulbright Commission in Jordan, led by Executive Director Alain McNamara and supported by the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, hosted us.
Together with representatives from regional Fulbright Commissions, U.S. embassies and non-governmental partners, we reviewed academic exchange priorities, shared information and best practices, and addressed issues and challenges faced by the Fulbright Program at large and in this region. Former Jordanian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Roweida Al-Ma'aitah emphasized the potential of Jordan's young population and the importance of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
Several accomplished Fulbright alumni also spoke to the workshop. We met Dr. Issa Batarseh, a professor at the University of Central Florida who is currently on leave there while serving as President of Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Amman. A Jordanian-born American citizen, Dr. Issa returned to Jordan as a Fulbright Scholar in 1997 and has since mentored over a dozen Jordanian students to enroll in Ph.D. studies at UCF. Dr. David Chapman, a 2007 Fulbright New Century Scholar in Oman who teaches at the University of Minnesota, gave keynote remarks on current educational issues in the Middle East/North Africa region and worldwide.
I also met Dr. Maysoon Al-Nahar of the University of Jordan, one of Jordan's first female archeologists. Dr. Al-Nahar, whose field is Paleolithic and Paleoenvironmental Studies and Museumology, studied at Arizona State University on her Fulbright Scholarship. She described a rewarding academic experience there and also recalled attending farmers' markets and live music festivals while living in Tempe, Arizona. Her collaboration with American colleagues continues today: Dr. Al-Nahar works with several American universities on archaeological projects in her country and is a key resource scholar with Amman's American Center of Oriental Research.
Donna Ives, the Fulbright Branch Chief for the Middle East and North Africa, and staff members Danielle Antonio and Jamie Sharp also met with eight American Fulbrighters currently serving as English Teaching Assistants in Jordan. Donna reported back on their infectious enthusiasm and eagerness to engage with their students, most of whom had never met an American before.
All in all, the workshop was a great opportunity to share ideas with colleagues about the full range of our academic and educational programs, and learn more about the impressive accomplishments of Fulbright alumni in Jordan and throughout the region. We look forward to building on our discussions in the year ahead.