Fulbright Student Program Blog

Tag Archives: Jordan

U.S. Classrooms Celebrate International Education Week with Fulbrighters

In celebration of International Education Week 2018, six Fulbright Foreign Students, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, and Fulbright Visiting Scholars will visit elementary, middle, and high schools in Kentucky, Nebraska, and New York. The visits will take place from November 13 to November 16, and are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), in partnership with Reach the World.

The Fulbrighters will share the culture of their home countries with the students and describe their Fulbright experiences. The visits will allow American students to increase their global understanding by meeting a foreign Fulbrighter. With a diverse group of participants and classrooms, these visits will help increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. The visits will build on another partnership between ECA and Reach the World, in which these same classrooms are holding virtual exchanges with U.S. exchange students who are studying overseas through Fulbright and other ECA exchange programs.

Follow along with the U.S. classrooms this week and meet a Fulbrighter, by tracking and using #Fulbright on social media.

Meet the Fulbright participants:

Pritesh Chakraborty
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from India
New York University

Hi, I’m Pritesh. I’m an assistant professor and research scholar at West Bengal State University in India. I’m a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant with Fulbright, but my area of interest is comic book studies. I love comic books because I love stories and I’m interested in the rich heritage of English literature. Right now, I teach Hindi to elementary level language learners as part of my Fulbright award, and I’ll begin teaching intermediate levels next semester.

Lei Chen
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from China
University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Hi, I’m Lei! I’m from China and I’m a lecturer. I received my B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Language and Literature from Liaoning University, China. I’ve been teaching at Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine for 8 years after getting my Master’s degree. Currently, I’m a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, teaching Chinese 101 and 201, and sharing Chinese culture with my students.


Abeer Khlaifat
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from Jordan
University of Kentucky

Hello, I’m Abeer Khlaifat from Jordan, and I grew up in the capital city, Amman. Arabic is my passion, and I decided that I would study it at the age of 12. I have both a B.A. and M.A. in Arabic and I’ve worked as a teacher for Americans and other international students who are studying abroad in Jordan. This was part of my motivation to come to the U.S., where I’m currently a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Kentucky.

Anna Potapova
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from Russia
University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Hello, I’m Anna! I have a lot of experience teaching English to adults and I also received my CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification from St. Giles College, Brighton, UK. I have a degree in Romance and Germanic philology from Ivanovo State University. I have a number of other certificates and qualifications, but my main professional interests are methods of teaching English and Russian as a foreign language, the lexical approach, and using authentic speaking as a speaking model. I’m currently teaching Russian 101 to college students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and organize cultural events to promote Russian culture in America. I also have a fluffy cat, who is extremely cuddly.

Francesca Scafuto
Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Italy
Ramapo College of New Jersey

Hello! I’m Dr. Francesca Scafuto and I’m a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Ramapo College of New Jersey. I’m from Italy, and I’m an experienced Adolescent and Young Adult Psychotherapist. I’m interested in how people think as a community about the environment, and I’m studying social science and environmental health during my Fulbright. I’m also an artist and I like to paint in my free time.


Nina Siegfried
Fulbright Foreign Student from Germany
University of Louisville

I’m from Germany and I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Sports Administration at the University of Louisville. I grew up a competitive athlete and decided to pursue sports management at an early age. I participated in an exchange year in high school and lived with a host family while attending Apollo High School in Owensboro, KY. I studied for my undergraduate degree in the Netherlands and received a B.A. in International Studies and Management from Arnhem Business School. I also studied abroad in Hong Kong to receive a minor in Marketing.


Taekwondo and More in Jordan


Hannah Rosenberg Jones, 2014-2015, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Jordan (left, front row, in red shirt), with her dojang partners at the Al Faris Taekwando Center in Amman, Jordan

When I first moved to Amman, Jordan as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, I sought experiences that would take me away from the comfort of my expat community. Having participated in athletics my entire life, I chose to pick up taekwondo at a dojang near the University of Jordan, where I taught. Located in the basement of a popular hookah café, I remember feeling nervous that I was about to descend into a room full of only men. To my pleasant surprise, the hole-in-the-wall taekwondo club that I had chosen happened to also host a number of top female athletes.

During my day-to-day activities in Amman, I was confronted by numerous obstacles. Communicating in Arabic was difficult, navigating public transportation was tricky, and teaching a classroom of 60 students was a new challenge. In the evenings, I was a 30-year-old taekwondo beginner who spoke awkward textbook Arabic going up against black-belt, adolescent Olympic hopefuls who spoke Arabic a mile a minute.

World Refugee Day 2016: Revisiting Sharief El-Gabri’s Story and Community Engagement

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Sharief El-Gabri, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Jordan, with Ahmed, one of the refugee high school students who helped run the sports facility in the Gaza Refugee Camp

In honor of World Refugee Day, we are re-posting Fulbright Alumni Ambassador and alumnus Sharief El-Gabri’s article describing his Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship responsibilities in Jordan as well as his involvement with the Gaza Refugee Camp. 

Are you a current Fulbrighter who has worked with or is currently working with refugees? Want to share your story? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us here.

If you are thinking about applying for a Fulbright grant, you need to consider how you plan to interact with your host community. After all, Fulbright’s core tenet is cultural exchange. Of course, show off your impressive research proposal or your comprehensive English teaching playbook, but your time as a Fulbrighter will likely be memorialized by serendipitous interactions with your community. Embrace those opportunities because you are prepared and have considered how you would like to carve out your Fulbright experience.

Looking back on my Fulbright experience in Amman, Jordan in 2010-2011, I really cherish my time outside of my primary English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) responsibilities. I had sufficient free time to engage in a substantive community engagement project. Outside of my ETA obligations and studying Arabic, I helped build a sports facility in the Gaza Refugee Camp.

The Nina Brekelmans Story: Promoting Women’s and Girl’s Empowerment through Running and Cultural Exchange

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Fulbright volunteers, camp coaches, and friends of Nina Brekelmans’: (Top row, from left to right) Coach Mohammad Sweity (head coach of the camp), Ibrahim Abu Asbeh (coach), Mary Grace Pellegrini (Nina’s best friend), Hanoia Ali (friend and running partner in Jordan when Nina lived in Amman), Fulbright U.S. Student Emily Gallagher; (Bottom row) Fulbright U.S. Students Rory Sykes, Maddie Ulanow, Brittany Barrineau, and Summer Forester.

On a bright spring day in April 2014, Nina Brekelmans toed the line to compete in the half marathon at the Dead Sea Ultra race in Amman, Jordan. Although Nina had never competed in this distance before, she won. During a post-race interview, Nina described the race as particularly important to her because it was her last race in Jordan before returning to the United States Tragically, this would be the last race Nina would ever run in Jordan; in June 2015, Nina passed away in a house fire in Washington, DC.

Nina was selected for a Fulbright U.S. Student grant in May 2015 and would have begun her research project in Jordan in August of that year. Nina’s passion for running intersected with and informed her scholarship. As a Fulbright U.S. Student, she planned to research how women’s involvement in elite-level distance running shifts cultural norms about women’s roles in society. Nina hoped to use this research in her lifelong endeavor to promote female participation in athletics. To be sure, Nina was well-suited for this project. During her time in Jordan as a Boren Fellow in 2013-2014, she connected with athletes, coaches, and local running organizations, all of whom embraced Nina as one of their own.

Following Nina’s untimely death, the U.S. Department of State and the Binational Fulbright Commission in Jordan (sponsors and administrators of the Fulbright Program in Jordan) decided to create a community engagement award to honor Nina’s legacy and to help her research continue in Jordan. The prize was $1,000 to fund a project that promoted Nina’s vision of female empowerment through running. This year’s Fulbright U.S. Student group in Jordan worked together to create a proposal.

Nina’s friends and family in the United States gave us the idea to do a camp. They had talked about creating one, but they didn’t have any on-the-ground connections in Jordan to make it a reality. Together, we started laying out the groundwork based on their ideas and the possibilities in Amman.

Making Friends in Unexpected Places

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Philmon Haile, 2014-2015, Jordan (right), with Abu Abed pouring tea after a delicious meal

After arriving in Amman, Jordan for the second time, I was very excited to see my old friends that I had made when I visited in 2013. Most of all, I was excited to reconnect with Abu Abed, the security guard at the language school where I studied during the summer of 2013, which is also the same school where I completed my Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA). I did not tell him I would be coming back, wanting to surprise him. When I walked into the language school, he was shocked, immediately greeting me with kisses.

He is sort of a jack of all trades, and through our conversations, I have learned so much about Jordan’s history, language, and people. I would share stories about my hometown, Seattle. I would tell my story of being resettled in the United States as a refugee when I was a child, and talk about the diversity that makes the United States great and unique.

As a refugee from Eritrea, I connected with Abu Abed because he is one of millions of Palestinian-Jordanians who are refugees of previous conflicts. From our conversations and because of my background, I was inspired to learn more about issues facing current Syrian refugees in Jordan. Combining that desire and my passion for working with youth, after my CLEA, I decided to research the conditions of refugee youth through a research-orientated internship with the UN Refugee Agency.