This summer, a contingent of faculty, students and educators led by UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. David Coury (Humanistic Studies) and international projects coordinator Jay Harris spent one month in Jordan. The group was traveling in advance of the formal establishment of the new Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships at UW-Green Bay.
Coury and Harris received a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad award for the trip, which included UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Jolanda Sallman (Social Work), Assistant Prof. Heidi Sherman (Humanistic Studies/history) and Assistant Prof. Jill White (Human Development/anthropology).
While in Jordan, the group studied Arabic and the history and culture of the region.
"What impressed me the most was Jordan's deep history, which spans the entire breadth of human history," Sherman said of the trip. "It's wonderful to see first-hand how deeply Jordanians care about preserving the history of their region."
The group took a two-day trip to archeological sites in the north, including the ancient Roman cities of Jerash and Um Qais as well as the ancient medieval Islamic fortress Ajloun in Jordan's Eastern Desert.
On their way back, they met with faculty members from Yarmouk University in Irbid where they had lunch with the university president Dr. Sultan Abu-Orabi. The UW-Green Bay faculty members made research connections with Yarmouk faculty in anthropology and archeology.
"It was also very exciting to meet with Jordanian educators of all student levels from kindergarten through graduate study," Sherman added. "We are very excited to start planning student and faculty exchanges with the University of Jordan and Yarmouk University."
The group also met up with former UW-Green Bay Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Prof. Ibtesam Al-Atiyat, who taught several classes this summer for the German-Jordanian University in Amman.
The Department of Education award of $76,905 covered more than 80 percent of the program's cost, with the remaining funds from the Jordanian government and UW-Green Bay.
"It was a highly proactive group demonstrating enthusiasm, energy, and vision for their own learning, and for sharing the experience with others upon return," Harris said of the trip. "So much was explored during a fast-moving month in Jordan, it was an interdisciplinary experience extraordinaire."
While the Fulbright-Hays group was spending time in Jordan, another group with UW-Green Bay ties was also in the Middle East.
A team of mentors in the Young Entrepreneurs Program spent time in Israel and Jordan doing follow-up work with the ten women who spent time in Green Bay this spring and with the dozens of others who applied for the program initially.
The training was held in cooperation with program partners and other organizations in Jordan and Israel. A long-term goal of YEP is to create mutually beneficial, self-sustaining linkages among professional communities in the United States, Israel and Jordan.
In September 2009, UW-Green Bay was selected to receive a two-year grant totaling $273,876 from the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Each year, 10 "Young Entrepreneurs" — five each from Israel and Jordan — come to the area for a month of workshops, site visits, job shadowing and cultural activities in the Green Bay area.