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CIEE Amman, Jordan
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Phelim Giblin

Major: International Politics, History
Minor: Arabic, Middle Eastern Studies
Hometown: University Park

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I previously participated in the same study abroad program to Amman, Jordan during the summer of 2016. I found out about it while applying to a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) award that was being overseen by Dr. Elena Galinova. I found out about the FLAS Fellowship through the Liberal Arts website.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I have spent the majority of my time in Amman, Jordan where the culture is very different, and at times a shock. With the Arabic language around me at all times of the day it has done wonders in improving my language skills. I have met amazing friends, both American and Jordanian. These friendships have been cemented through travel within Jordan and to surrounding countries. These travels have included Egypt, the West Bank, Israel, and Lebanon. I have seen so many things I never expected to bear witness to, and have had several life changing experiences as well.

"I have seen so many things I never expected to bear witness to..."

How did this experience impact you academically?

I have been studying the Middle East and the Arabic language for the past several years, so when I came here I had a basic knowledge of the region. However, reading a book about something such as the Palestine Israel conflict is nothing compared to meeting people who deal with it on a daily basis. There is a difference between reading about the checkpoints in the West Bank, and traveling through them. Through traveling to places like Egypt I was able to better understand some of the oppressive regimes of the region. It would take me a lifetime to fully understand what is going on here, but this experience has been a highly beneficial start.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

When I came into this program I was unsure as to whether I wanted to work for the Intelligence Community or for an NGO. I believe my experience has helped me move forward in the process of choosing between the two. This is because my main goal is to reach a point where I can help the people of this region, and I think that by coming here I know a little more about how I can best do that. I am not entirely sure, but I do know that my time here will play a major impact on my decision, and therefor my professional life following graduation.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would fully recommend this study abroad program. While it may not have the flash or glamour that European countries offer, I personally believe it is a more beneficial experience. The Middle East and its people are very misunderstood, especially due to the selective coverage of western media. The only way to see the truth of the region is to travel here, and meet its people.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Being in the Paterno Fellows Program has made many more opportunities available to me. Not the least important is the financial aid they have offered to me. This has allowed me to travel more actively throughout the region, and inside of Jordan. Some of the most important trips I have taken have been made possible due to this aid.

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