Middlebury Institute Staff Visit School in Jordan
Wedged into my bus seat, limbs at odd angles around backpacks, lunch sacks and water bottles, I let the conversation float around me. Singsong Arabic, punctuated by frequent laughter and the occasional few words from a song, drowned out the increasing sounds of traffic as we re-entered Amman. With my eyes closed, I couldn’t tell student from native speaker. “This,” I thought to myself, “is what an immersive program is really all about.”—Jen Holguin
Assistant Dean Toni Thomas and Jen Holguin, Career and Academic Adviser & Director of Fellowships, Exchanges & Study Abroad, have just returned from a visit to the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad Program site in Amman. The trip was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, which promotes and supports academic collaborations and partnerships across Middlebury’s programs. The purpose of the trip was to gain a better feel for how the program works on the ground and to lay the foundation for developing program options more closely aligned with our relevant graduate-level programs.
These goals were met and exceeded, thanks to the incredible support and collaboration of Director Kerstin Wilsch and her staff. Jen and Toni held highly productive meetings with faculty and administrators at the University of Jordan. They visited internship sites and made plans to connect with additional organizations after returning to Monterey. They talked with students, staff, teachers and mentors about their experiences with the program. They sat in on classes taught entirely in Modern Standard Arabic and Levantine Dialect (and even learned a few words themselves along the way!) They also had the incredible opportunity to join the students on an excursion, which included an eight-hour hike through a magical, stream-filled canyon, a stay at an eco-lodge, and a swim in the Dead Sea.
– Amy McGill