KingsAcademyJordan KingsAcademyJOR King’s Academy KingsAcademyJOR King’s Academy
IN THIS ISSUE 2 3 4 6 8 10 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 35 36 39 40 42 44 45 48 51 54 56 59 60 62 64 67 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 104
Editor’s Note Stemming Sexism Peter Nilsson Inducted as Third Head of School The Political Outsider: Ayla Kadah ’13 Carves Out a Space in US Politics Yalla Sawa: Middle Schoolers Engage Beyond Campus Go, Mother Lion, Go...and Farewell Paying it Forward: King’s Alumni Fight the Network Gap Szeto Reports Lost in Translation Between Two Worlds Art as a Language of Understanding She Loves Me Hits All the Right Notes Old Friends, New Beginnings: Longtime Faculty Depart King’s Changing Lanes Righting the Narrative Giving Thanks By Giving Back From Boarder to Board Member King’s Academy Appoints Six New Board Members Leadership for a New Era Taking Traditions to the Web Where Life and Learning Collide Philanthropy at its Best More than a Co-Co: Students Reach Out to Refugee Children Extreme Makeover: School Edition King’s Couples There’s Something About SEP The Little Princess of Aleppo How I learned to Love the Sketchbook Raising Syrian Voices The Other F-Word: Intersectional Feminism See the Music Hear the Dance Prevention is the Best Medicine The Spoken Word Middle Schoolers Say Goodbye to Their Beloved Dean Dr. Saleh Vallander Abdellatif ’11 Prescribes Mediation Community Gatherings: Dubai Community Gatherings: Boston Community Gatherings: New York Community Gatherings: London All Around the World Kursi wa Kitab: King’s Disability Advocates A Life of Service An Ambassador of Two Places Mumen Alzubi ’12 Takes Off School News in Brief Class Notes Bridging the Gap Year
EDITOR’S NOTE Spring 2020 Volume 8 Editor in Chief Vera Azar Writers Muna Al-Alul, Johanna Lee ’13 Designer Shadi Hasweh Contributors
By early March, as it became increasingly clear that COVID-19 was going to seriously disrupt the running of the school, the country and the world, we asked ourselves what to do with Beyond King’s. We’d been working on the content of the magazine since November, and all of a sudden everything was overshadowed by the virus. Should we proceed with writing all the great stories about student and alumni achievements? Should we convert the whole magazine into a COVID-19 issue? Would we even be able to print and distribute the magazine? We decided that we would feature the pandemic and its implications (see pages 36–43), but would not give up the chance to highlight the achievements of the rest of the year. This has been a year of beginnings and endings: we have a brilliant new head of school brimming with exciting new ideas (see pages 36–38); various key faculty are finishing their last year at King’s (see pages 10–13, 24–25, 68–69); and, as they grow older and increase in number, our alumni are doing more and more exciting things. How could we not share all this? But one thing is different. For the first time, we are launching the magazine online. Once conditions permit, we will print Beyond King’s, but for now, we hope you enjoy the online experience. Before you start turning the pages, I’ll leave you with a few words about the name of the magazine. When we launched Beyond King’s in 2013, the plan was for it to be an alumni magazine, hence “Beyond.” As the years went by, it grew in scope and became a whole school magazine. For a while we wondered whether the name had become a misnomer. But as you read, you will see the amazing number of initiatives that go beyond the walls of our campus — from community service and outreach efforts to our COVID-19 symposium. We realized that Beyond King’s is still the right name, because everything we do has — or will have — implications beyond our campus. How apt for a school that, in His Majesty King Abdullah II’s words, aims to “develop and empower young leaders who will drive change within and beyond their communities, and eventually across borders.” Vera Azar
Rami Abi Jomaa, Leen Alabed ’10, Alicja Borzyszkowska ’18, Thomas Cahill, Omar Halawa ’12, John Leister, Anthony Lilly, Peter Nilsson Photography Wasim Ayesh, Ruofei Shang ’21 Front Cover Artwork by Ke Deng ’22 This illustration reflects the new normal of life for students in self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deng created this artwork as her personal project for the King’s Academy COVID-19 Symposium. Back Cover Photograph by Wasim Ayesh. Beyond King’s is published by the King’s Academy Department of Communications and Publications. P.O. Box 9, Madaba-Manja 16188 Jordan. tel +962 6 430 0230 ext. 1005 email email@example.com www.kingsacademy.edu.jo © 2020 King’s Academy, Jordan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without express written consent from the publisher.
STEMMING SEXISM A BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
cross the world, women are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). While women in the Middle East graduate with STEM degrees at much higher rates than in the United States or Europe, their employment in the industry still hovers around 30 percent. Leen Madanat ’15 aims to change this. While majoring in physical science and minoring in business and math at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, she held two internships in the data analytics space, sparking her interest in the field. After graduating, she moved to Dubai, initially continuing her work in data analytics at Global Village before transitioning to digital technology and innovation consulting for KPMG. Madanat says she’s often one of the few women in the room. She attributes the lagging female representation to cultural barriers, particularly in leadership positions. “Women find it harder to get these roles and even be competitive in interview processes because they have less experience in the field, which is because they weren’t able to get those positions earlier,” she explains. While Madanat is on the path to forging an impressive career for herself in STEM, she is not content with only breaking her own glass ceiling. Outside of work, she launched the Dubai chapter of 500 Women Scientists, a global organization aiming to transform STEM by empowering women to secure leadership positions. For Madanat, promoting inclusivity in STEM is not only about ensuring representation that reflects the diversity of society, but also because inclusive science leads to more accurate science.
“One of the main goals of inclusivity is to eliminate bias in the models we create, the hypotheses we create, and so on,” she explains. “If they come from one lens or one perspective, the whole research project or initiative would be based on that one perspective. If that perspective is predominately male or not inclusive, it becomes restrictive.” The good news is that there are signs that the cultural barriers keeping women from leadership positions in tech — and other fields — are breaking down. According to Wamda, a venture capital firm for technology businesses in the Middle East, one in three entrepreneurs in the region are women. Governments have begun enacting programs and quotas to increase female leadership, with the notable example of the United Arab Emirates’ Gender Balance Council, established in 2015. A key remaining challenge is to empower individual women, creating a pioneering set of role models for younger generations to look to for inspiration and guidance. This is precisely what Madanat aims to do
Leen Madanat ’15 Promotes Inclusivity in Science and Tech
through her work with 500 Women Scientists, through which she has organized meetings and mentoring pairings for STEM women in Dubai. Their very first meeting, held earlier this year, was a celebration of the accomplishments already made or underway by women in the room. “Women kind of shy away from admitting the amazing things they do in STEM and tech and business, and we don’t speak about these successes as often as we should,” says Madanat. “As cheesy as it sounds, I want to be the voice for those women who have yet to speak up about their successes.” SPRING 2020
PETER NILSSON Inducted as Third Head of School in Moving Ceremony BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
loudy skies and scattered r a i n d r o p s couldn’t dampen spirits at the King’s Academy’s Convocation and Induction Ceremony, held on Commencement Lawn on the evening of October 15, 2019. Marking a new chapter for the school with the induction of Peter Nilsson as the third head of school,
the ceremony also looked back at the origins and early days of King’s. Founding Headmaster Dr. Eric Widmer and former Dean of the Faculty and his wife Dr. Meera Viswanathan jointly gave a preliminary address. “It was nine years ago that we were on this stage together, along with His Majesty, bidding goodbye to the Class of 2010 — our first graduating class — and graduating ourselves,” said Widmer.
“Now we are here again,” continued Viswanathan. “Full of nostalgia, but this time helping to induct your new head of school and his family.” Viswanathan drew “a wonderful convergence of parallels” between Jordan, King’s Academy and its newest head of school. “All are relatively young, all are hitting their prime, all are fiercely determined yet animated by family, joy in their daily life and a sense of play. And finally, all are intensely curious about the larger global world and the technologies that help us navigate it.” Reviving an early King’s tradition, Widmer closed the address with a stirring rendition of the unofficial school song, composed by Widmer himself. Chairman of the Board of Trustees HE Bassem Al-Salem, who formally inducted Nilsson as King’s Academy’s
third head of school, said, “In Peter, we have found a thoughtful and driven leader who will undoubtedly continue the tradition of carrying out His Majesty’s vision for King’s Academy and lead it to greater excellence.” Symbolizing old traditions under new leadership was the facultystudent procession that carried the King’s community to Commencement Lawn. Nilsson and Al-Salem led the march, followed closely behind by Viswanathan and Widmer, who introduced the processional tradition to King’s 13 years ago. In his address to the attending students, faculty, staff, parents, board members and friends of King’s including Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali, Nilsson extended his gratitude to everyone who played a role in the establishment of the school, especially His Majesty King Abdullah II. “The founding of King’s Academy,” said Nilsson, “has been an ongoing act of extraordinary creativity. Something is being made and remade here that hadn’t been made here before.” Nilsson emphasized the importance of creativity as both an academic discipline and a necessary component of problem-solving work on the local and global scales. This creativity is imparted through the unique nature of King’s not only as a global leader in academic excellence, but also as an international boarding school. “It is in the evenings and on the the weekends, in the dorms and on campus, that students build the deepest and most diverse connections with each other, and with their teachers and with the staff that support them,” he said. “These connections across difference are what lead to deeper and more creative thinking.” Nilsson invited all in the King’s community to think together creatively about the future of the school and beyond the campus gates. “The story of King’s Academy is still being written; we are in but the first chapters,” he said. “But we are writing them now. You are writing them. You are the main characters.” This call to action echoed the theme for the year, XII: Excel, Improve and
Inspire, which was presented by Student Leadership Council Presidents Hannah Szeto ’20 and Salam Karadsheh ’20, who emceed the ceremony. In between speakers, other members of the student body took to the stage to share their creative talents. An Arabic music troupe performed traditional songs, with oud players Leen Alshabsough ’20, Fawzi Al-Jawhari ’20 and Tala Salman ’20; tableh players Faisal Razoug ’23 and Odai Zoubi ’20, Jouna Hasan ’21 as the vocalist and Karadsheh on the qanoon.
Zaid Al Zoubi ’20 captivated with a Flamenco acoustic performance of “Farruca” by Juan Martín, and the final performance brought members of the community to their feet in a rendition of “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, performed by Dongmin Kang ’20 and Elea-Maria Abisamra ’21 on vocals, Tala Hammad ’23 on guitar, Jiaqi Xu ’23 on cello, and Seokhyeon Hong ’20 on violin. The ceremony was followed by a reception and barbeque dinner on Refectory Square.
The Political Outsider Ayla Kadah ’13 Carves Out a Space in US Politics BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
Kadah (center) at a rally after the 2017 Muslim ban
yla Kadah ’13 never imagined she would end up working in US state legislation. Raised in Syria, Kadah moved to Jordan in 2012 to attend her senior year at King’s. Prior to joining King’s, she hadn’t given much thought to her future plans. “I feel like King’s was my first step to getting to the things that I do now,” she says. “King’s made me feel more inclined to think strategically about my future and was very important in helping me determine where my opportunity lies and what my calling was.” 6
While in her third year as a psychology and communications major at the University of Washington in Seattle, Kadah began volunteering for the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. It was the first time in her life Kadah became involved in political organizing and activism. “I kind of discovered the civic process,” she says, smiling. “I didn’t really know what I was doing — I was learning as I was going. I just started saying yes to everything.” Leaping into the new world of civic engagement, Kadah ran as a delegate
for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, an event at which elected representatives — delegates — select the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, one of the two main political parties in the United States. Following a competitive local election, Kadah was selected as a Washington state delegate to the Convention. One of almost 5,000 delegates from across the country, Kadah engaged in dynamic and passionate discussions with her peers, cementing her interest in American politics. Returning to Washington, Kadah engrossed herself fully in her newfound
calling. She joined the congressional campaign for Pramila Jayapal as a field organizer. At the same time, she was awarded a six-month fellowship by the Institute of Democratic Future. The fellowship allowed her to travel around the state, meeting with local leaders and learning about local issues, from immigration and civic engagement to reproductive rights and environmental justice. “It became clear that this was the world I wanted to be in,” she says of local politics. “These issues affect me personally. They affect my family, they affect my friends.”
Despite its reputation as one of the most diverse and progressive major cities in the US, Seattle’s bureaucracy doesn’t reflect the diversity of its residents. The Washington State Congress remains disproportionately older, male, straight, Christian and white. “It feels like the perspective I’m bringing is one that’s largely underrepresented in these spaces of government, nonprofit work, and the legal field,” Kadah says. “There’s the feeling like you’re in spaces that were not necessarily built with people like me in mind.”
These issues affect me personally. They affect my family, they affect my friends.
However, Kadah is not alone. She’s managed to find a strong support system of politically-active Seattle residents with similar “intersections of oppression,” she tells me. She knows that not everyone has access to similar support systems or opportunities. This is why she is working on developing a pipeline program for historically
underrepresented people to work at the state legislature through Young People For, a leadership development fellowship in which fellows create blueprints for effecting positive social change in their communities. For individuals in the US or elsewhere who are unsure how to get involved in local politics or who may be unable to, Kadah suggests creating a “community scan” to get a sense of the political landscape and key players involved. “Get coffees with people, have lunches with people who do work that you’re interested in, who have a job that you want,” she advises. “Be bold in the way you pursue these opportunities. If you’re not someone who comes from a family that does this sort of work, this information isn’t just going to land in your lap.” It certainly hasn’t for Kadah, who has spent the last four years juggling work, fellowships and community organizing, while learning the Washington state political landscape as a newcomer. These four years have thrown significant challenges her way, but Kadah’s support system of family and friends, and her belief in individual agency have kept her pushing forward. “People are more powerful than they think,” she says. “There are pathways to getting involved and to reclaiming your story, your power, your voice — and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Kadah (left) with Representative Pramila Jayapal
After Jayapal was successfully elected to the US House of Representatives, Kadah set her sights on the next opportunity, joining Rebecca Saldaña’s campaign for the Washington State Senate as the campaign manager. In the wake of another elective victory, Kadah followed Saldaña to the Washington Senate in 2017 as her legislative aide. Kadah has worked in the Senate for over two years, furthering her close ties to the local community by getting to know her constituents and through additional volunteer work. However, she still often feels like an outsider.
Kadah (left) with Senator Rebecca Saldaña
Middle Schoolers Engage beyond Campus BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
his year, the Middle School launched a new initiative that takes students off campus to engage in interactive community service projects. Yalla Sawa, meaning “Let’s Go Together,” brings seventh and eighth graders to different sites around Madaba and Amman to volunteer their time and build relationships off campus. “We’ve been trying to spend more time outside campus,” said Dean of the 8
Middle School Reem Abu Rahmeh. “That’s where students are going to get the best understanding of their broader community and of what Jordan needs from them as citizens and as people who care about others.” Yalla Sawa takes place on the last Monday of each month. Through their advisory groups, students spend the full school day at one of six locations: Our Lady of Peace center in Marj alHamam, which empowers refugees to create and sell products to make a
a living; Tkiyet Um Ali, a food collection and distribution program; three public schools in Madaba, including one for children and young adults with special needs; and Queen Rania Children’s Hospital, where students play and make crafts with both outpatient and inpatient kids. Abu Rahmeh sees Yalla Sawa as an opportunity for students to cultivate meaningful connections and relationships beyond the walls of campus.
“We want to show students we shouldn’t think in terms of us giving to them, or of what we have and what they don’t have,” she said. “We want to focus on how it looks for us to be one community, and how we can engage in a way that is impactful and will benefit our lives and their lives together.” Students are taking Yalla Sawa’s mission to heart. Eighth grader Louisa Koehring has been able to develop bonds with students at a school in Madaba despite not knowing Arabic. “The past couple of trips, I’ve felt like I’ve really been able to engage with the kids without having to have verbal communication with them,” she says. “The kids were also communicating with me without having to use words. I really enjoyed feeling some sort of connection without words, which was an experience you don’t normally get to have with people,” she adds. English teacher Jamison Meader sees Yalla Sawa as a valuable opportunity for King’s students to develop emotional and social skills more directly than they might be able to in the classroom. “For me as a teacher, I love stepping back and watching my students be the adults, because so often I’m the adult in the room,” he says. “So many of the kids don’t get to show their teacher or nurturer side at school.”
We want to show students we shouldn’t think in terms of us giving to them, or of what we have and what they don’t have.
Engaging with oftentimes unfamiliar communities can have its challenges. Arabic teacher Muntaha Milhem brings her advisees to Beit Al Liqa’, a center in Madaba for kids and young adults with disabilities. While her group has enjoyed playing with the students at Beit Al Liqa’, some of her advisees have found the experience to be emotionally trying at times. “One of my students was talking with a young man in his twenties at Beit Al Liqa’,” she says. “My student said it was not easy for him. He said this man should have a family or be in college, not be playing with Play Dough.” But it is through engaging with people of different backgrounds and lived experiences that students can develop empathetic understanding that goes well beyond the walls of King’s. And it is not only King’s students who are changing due to this initiative, as seventh grader Leen Jumah points out. “Going to the hospital was really eye-opening for us because we got to experience things that you might not always experience,” she says. “We got to do different activities with the kids and we got to learn different things about the hospital, like how they treat patients like them, so it felt like they’re learning from us and we’re learning from them.” SPRING 2020
Go, Mother Lion, Go and Farewell
John Leistler muses on his quarter-century friendship with Julianne Puente.
vividly remember the February afternoon in 2007 sitting in the Middle School cafeteria at Hackley School in New York, when I announced to my longtime colleague and friend, Julianne Puente, “I have just signed a contract to work in a brand-new school in the country of Jordan. I wanted you to know.” She looked incredulous, smiled and said, “Wow, Johnny — that sounds exciting. I wish you the best.” As Julianne tells it, she walked away from that encounter shaking her head, saying to herself, “John is crazy! What’s he doing going to Jordan???!” Eighteen months later, I was with King’s Academy founding headmaster Eric Widmer in his office in the Arab Bank Administration Building. Dr. Eric had asked me in his usual, casualseeming way who among my Hackley colleagues “might have the stomach for this kind of work we are doing in Jordan.” Without hesitation I said, “I can think of one person — her name is Julianne Puente.” Eric handed me the phone and suggested I call Julianne right then and there in New York and talk to her about the school. Julianne and I had not spoken on the phone in the year since I had arrived in Jordan. So when she picked up the phone and greeted me, it was with her usual brio. “Johnny, is that really you?” “Yes,” I said, “and I have an important question for you.” 10
Julianne Puente at school meeting
And the rest is history. As our school on the plains of Moab prepares for a farewell to Julianne Puente, I am honored to write a few words about our long and rewarding friendship. I have the joy of knowing Julianne, or Jules, as she is known by her coterie of fans and friends, longer than anyone else at King’s Academy. Indeed, having worked with Julianne at two schools, for 11 years at each one, Julianne will always be the colleague with whom I have worked the longest. I met Julianne in 1996. She was a 23-year old returning “former student” to Hackley where I was a new teacher. She had had a storied career at this private school, as a true scholar-athlete. When Julianne returned to Hackley after graduating from Cornell University, she did not yet know that independent schools would be her life’s work. She was simply “young, scrappy, and hungry” (if I may co-opt Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics about Alexander Hamilton!) and wanted to coach and be around her beloved Hackley School. Starting in the College Counseling office, and then moving to Admissions for both Middle and Upper Schools, she gathered wisdom and insight from important, veteran teachers as she assiduously absorbed their lessons and advice on working with adolescents, colleagues, and parents. When in 2000 I asked her, “What’s your ultimate career goal?” She had an answer ready.
“I want to be a head of school,” she said. “Have you taught any academic classes yet?” “No,” she replied. “Well, if you want to be a credible head of school someday, you will need to add that to your resume,” I advised. So we worked out a plan. She would start by teaching middle school history courses. As with everything Julianne has ever done, she threw herself without reservation into planning and teaching 8th grade US history. In the next several years Julianne demonstrated a growing competence as she moved through a variety of positions, eventually becoming one of the deans of the Middle School. From there she could easily have moved to other traditional administrative posts in East coast prep schools but the offer as the Dean of Students at King’s Academy intrigued Julianne. Always looking for a challenge, and understanding that the greater the challenge, the greater the growth, she chose the difficult path of becoming an ex-patriate to nurture a fledgling school in the Middle East, moving to King’s Academy in the fall of 2009. Julianne’s first year at King’s was not a bed of roses, and that’s an understatement. Julianne will gladly tell you stories of how hard that first year was, but I watched as she deployed her trademark grit and resilience, mixed with human understanding. As she remembers it, “I worked to win people over, one person at a time.” And she
did. For example, she spent time getting to know the “Admin people,” but she also spent time with the guards at the gate, and the people in the kitchen. She quickly understood that she had to slow down her New York bravado and soon grasped the importance of having tea as a means to get to know students, faculty, and families. She once joked that her memoir from her Jordanian sojourn should be called, Ten Thousand Cups of Tea. Through the years I have marveled at the “Midas touch” Julianne uses in choosing and training her Office of Student Life team. Time and again I have seen her identify competent educators and through modeling the hard work, tenacity, resilience and love of school life that she demands from herself, train them to become outstanding deans, extraordinary leaders and role models for our school. She reminds herself as she reminds each dean that every interaction with students provides an opportunity for mission-driven learning and growth. For five years Julianne lived in one of the dormitories so that she could better understand the inner workings of a boarding school and be in the trenches with all of the other boarding faculty. While Julianne’s most enduring identity may be, as a student once called her, “the warden,” I believe her least recognized public persona is that of an intellectual. She has insisted on continuing to teach a class, always SPRING 2020
mining both her New York and Jordan roots to inform the way she views and teaches world religions. Like every other faculty member, Julianne has to plan, assess, grade, write comments and divine a differentiation game plan for every student. But this fits in so well with her lifelong love of sports and coaching. My first impression of Julianne, when I met her in 1996, was “hotshot coach.” Yes, she came across as a hotshot, coaching teams to multiple state championships! But there was always so much more to her coaching work. Julianne approaches every group as a “team,” using the methods that cohere and inspire people, as she works to build relationships that yield the group goals she and the group have set. Whether she is “coaching” a sports team, or her OSL team, her World Religions classes, a dormitory house or any other group, Julianne understands how to use the building blocks of interpersonal dynamics which comprise the foundation of deep success. Julianne is also a consummate storyteller with many stories in her collection from her 11 years in Jordan. One story reigns supreme for me, as it embodies so much of the work and joy we have shared. In the spring of 2010, in our first senior class, a rambunctious bunch of senior boys delighted in pranks. One evening I received a phone call from one of those boys who whispered, “I wanted to warn you that some of us put a dead chicken in Miss Julianne’s office earlier this evening. But I don’t want her to find that. She doesn’t deserve a dead chicken.” I thanked him for his honesty, and although I am a city boy, I went to do a farm boy chore: remove the dead chicken and all signs of this prank. Entering Julianne’s office, and seeing the carcass on the floor, I screwed up my courage. As I reached for it — whoa!! The chicken was not dead after all! Great! Chicken in hand, I walked to Julianne’s apartment to decide with her what to do. Instead of any punishment for the boys, we decided that the best retaliation was not to mention this publicly at all. In private, however, we called up the other deans of the OSL and had fun taking photos of each other playing cards with the chicken, 12
Julianne Puente congratulating graduates
According to Egyptian lore, falcons fly into the sun and do not flinch. They are also protective and command attention. Certainly this describes Julianne.
whom we nicknamed ‘Sparkles.’ A decade ago Julianne told me that she imagined she would stay at King’s Academy for no more than five years tops. But I watched as she got to know Jordan and made friends that became like family. For a long time Julianne’s desire to be a head of school simmered on a backburner. Then an opportunity arose and it seemed that the time was right for her to take the next step in her career. Sometime around 2012, in my AP Art History class, I compared Julianne to the ancient Egyptian symbol of Horus the falcon, which the Egyptians used to show toughness. According to Egyptian lore, falcons fly into the sun and do not flinch. They are also protective and command attention. Certainly this describes Julianne. She
will now fly into the sun, 10,000 miles from us here on campus, all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. So now my colleague, my problem-solving, let’s-start-a-grocery-just-for-fun, New York soul sister-buddy and dear, dear friend will be working her magic in New Mexico, where I am sure she will also be teaching about life on these plains of Moab, and how she helped mold the contours of the King’s Academy experience for more than a decade from 2009-2020. Long ago my wise 5th grade teacher, Nina Wilson, taught our class the aphorism, “bloom where you are planted.” In the nearly quarter of a century I have worked with Julianne, I have met few people who exemplify this advice as well as she does. Not only does Julianne bloom wherever she is planted, but she encourages others, nurtures them, prepares the soil, weeds out their inadequacies and insecurities, and waters their hopes and dreams. Like the beautiful iris, the national flower of Jordan, Julianne found congenial soil at King’s Academy, and bloomed here in the desert. Among many other things, John Leistler is the dean of the faculty at King’s Academy, as well as the holder of the Sheikh Salman bin Hamad AlKhalifa Distinguished Chair in the Theory and Practice of Knowledge.
“My first memory of Ms. Julianne is of her declining to take the microphone from Dr. Eric at school meeting. ‘That's okay, I can project!’ she announced.” True. She certainly could project." – Johanna Lee '13, communications and advancement writer
“In the early days of King’s, mostly western faculty lived in the dorms. Julianne encouraged more Arabic speaking staff and faculty to live on campus and to take on leadership roles in order to create strong connections with our local families and stay true to our Jordanian identity. She always looked for ways that encouraged people to show their pride in local culture.” – Reem Abu Rahmeh, dean of the Middle School
“Julianne is great at building systems that help others flourish. She doesn’t micromanage.” – Farah Abu Jazar, executive assistant to the deputy head of school
“Julianne was responsible for shifting the language of the school from ‘rules and discipline’ to ‘expectations’. She helped build the school culture that we have today.” – Ryuji Yamaguchi, senior class dean and dance program coordinator
“Julianne is good at identifying people’s strengths and empowering them to utilize those skills where needed. As I am someone who is invested in the school, this made me see and be seen." – Lina Samawi, freshman class dean and director of Arabic Year
Deputy Head of School Julianne Puente and Student Leadership Council (SLC) members ham it up for a humorous promotional video for the SLC, which Puente helped to establish just last year
I will miss the faint sounds of the adhan from the mosques that surround campus. Although for some it is a religious call, for me it served as a constant reminder to remain spiritually and emotionally centered.
Ms. Julianne, what will you most miss about King’s?
I will miss the distinct smell of the earth after the first winter rains. There was always something so clean, so fresh, and so comforting about the air after the first rain. I will miss the taste of fresh olive oil right after the fall harvest. Is there anything better than musakhan made with fresh olive oil for Friday lunch? I will miss the feel of the warm Jordanian sun on my back as I walked to school each morning. People always seem to complain about the weather, but I always thought it was perfect. I will miss the sight of the crowds on Commencement Lawn as I would lead the senior class around the clock tower. The energy was always palpable and the sight absolutely magnificent. As I stood at the top of the stairs. I would often think, there is no other place I would rather be than right here, right now. SPRING 2020
PAYING IT FORWARD
King’s Alumni Fight the Network Gap BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
Waliullah (“Wali”) Hairan ’15 and Fawzi Itani ’14 are working on online solutions to address disparities in employment opportunities for young people not born into powerful social networks.
few months before his graduation from Connecticut College with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, Wali Hairan ’15 was stuck. While many of his peers were securing interviews for postgraduation jobs, he hadn’t even begun applying. Hairan has always had enterprising ways. As an eight-year-old living in a remote village in northeastern Afghanistan, he called upon the few words in English he had picked up while living in a refugee camp in Pakistan to befriend some Americans. These Americans, Bruce and Dana Freyer, helped Hairan apply to high schools across the world, with King’s Academy as his final selection. At King’s, Hairan flourished, immersing himself in the rigorous academic environment that contrasted sharply with his earlier education. In 14
his home village, there was no school. Hairan would walk 10 kilometers to attend a school that served several neighboring villages. Books and stationery were in short supply, and many of the teachers had not completed high school themselves. After volunteering with the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) at King’s, Hairan launched an educational afterschool program in his village. The program achieved its modest goal of sparking intellectual curiosity and motivation in the students of his hometown. He is quick to point out, however, that intellect and drive aren’t enough to guarantee a successful career — as he found out for himself when facing down the job hunt. “If you’re born into a wealthy family, you have a huge leg up in terms of finding a job after graduation,” says Hairan. “You’re either born into a profession or you’re born into a network.
Hairan receiving an award for his work on a project at eBay
But if you’re coming from a poor and underprivileged background, you don’t know how the professional world works. You don’t even know how to approach the job market; you’re scared.” This leg up is referred to as the network gap by the professional networking platform LinkedIn. Fawzi Itani ’14, a senior talent solutions consultant at LinkedIn, describes the network gap as having “self-perpetuating” effects on the hiring process.
“The tendency for many companies is to hire through a referral network: college, family, hometown, high school or others,” Itani says. “Often, we tend to hire people who look like us, who come from the same socioeconomic background, who played the same sports, and so on.” Taking a small step to alleviate the network gap, LinkedIn announced in September 2019 that it was unveiling the “Plus One Pledge”: a commitment for LinkedIn employees to reach beyond their networks and provide professional mentoring. Hairan stumbled into the Plus One Pledge by chance. While searching through job postings on LinkedIn, he saw a post by LinkedIn employee Stephanie Harrison, offering her help. Hairan reached out, and Harrison quickly took him under her wing. Although she didn’t have a technical background, she demystified the application process, helped Hairan with his resume and introduced him to engineers in her network. His confidence skyrocketed. He secured interviews with Google, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram before accepting an offer as a software engineer at eBay. Reflecting on how much his life had changed with the help of the Freyers and Harrison, Hairan realized the power of a strong social network. He resolved to pay forward his lucky breaks by creating a mentoring
platform for young people from backgrounds similar to his own. “If it had not been for a miraculous series of events, I would not have been here,” he says. “There exists a huge need for mentoring for people with my background, but such a platform doesn’t exist. These are kids who have the intelligence and the skills, they just lack confidence and knowledge of the marketplace.”
Reflecting on how much his life had changed with the help of the Freyers and Harrison, Hairan realized the power of a strong social network. He resolved to pay forward his lucky breaks by creating a mentoring platform for young people from backgrounds similar to his own.
Coding the platform in his free time, Hairan is designing it to connect underserved students with working professionals in the field they seek to enter. The platform will also provide resources to guide students
through the application process, such as advice about how to reach out for informational interviews. Hairan’s goal for the platform is to place at least 500 students in good positions at large tech firms across the United States, and then expand the platform to other professional fields. Itani has already signed up as a mentor, as have several other King’s alumni. “Don’t be afraid to reach out,” Itani advises college students who are intimidated by the prospect of expanding their professional networks. “Some people won’t answer, but many will. Do your research and prepare questions as to why you want to have this conversation and the passion around your own brand and work.” Hairan emphasizes to those who are unsure of how to approach the job search that they should be confident in themselves; they are no less capable or smart simply because they don’t have the same network as many of their peers. “Instead of getting upset about this imposter syndrome, why don’t we just help some other people,” he suggests. “That way, instead of just Harvard and MIT populating the entirety of the tech world, you’ve got these people who are equally as intelligent, equally as smart, equally as driven, as ambitious. The difference between them working next to me on a platform like eBay and somebody else is just that they were so scared, they didn’t know what to do.” SPRING 2020
Reports During a summer internship at the Middle East Monitor, Hannah Szeto ’20 dove headfirst into the complicated world of Middle Eastern affairs and online journalism. BY MUNA AL-ALUL
hen Hannah Szeto ’20 thought about a productive way to spend the summer of her junior year, an internship sounded like the perfect solution. It would give her the opportunity to learn something 16
new, while exploring a field of work that she had an interest in. Although she planned to spend the summer in the United Kingdom, Szeto — who, as a senior this year, is co-president of the King’s Academy Student Leadership Council — knew that she wanted to work somewhere
with a connection to Middle Eastern affairs. She began reaching out to relevant charities, trusts and nongovernmental organizations to ask if they were taking on interns. She soon discovered that finding an organization willing to take on a teenage intern for two months was not as easy as she
had hoped, and the few responses she did get back were mostly in the negative. So when the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), an online news agency and media monitoring network based in London, responded to her email with, “When do you want to start?” she jumped at the opportunity. According to MEMO, the use or misuse of information is central to the conflict in the Middle East, and so the organization was established to fill a gap in information gathering, analysis and dissemination, while providing focused and comprehensive coverage of Palestine and its regional neighbors. “What I really like about Middle East Monitor is that it’s a bridge between the Middle East and the rest of the world,” says Szeto. “A lot of our news is not original; we look at Arabic news sources and translate them into English to make them more accessible to a Western audience.” However, working with Arabic content posed a challenge to Szeto, a Hong Kong native, because of her limited knowledge of Arabic. “I felt bad because there is so much more news out there that I could have reported on if my Arabic was better,” says Szeto. “Google translation isn’t reliable, so I ended up texting headlines to Dario [Pomar ’19] or Sayf [Abdeen ’19] to ask them to give me the general meaning.” Writing in a journalistic style was another challenge that Szeto faced, but quickly overcame thanks to her experience writing for school publications like The Rexonian and Beyond King’s. “I have more experience writing opinion and creative pieces, and I’m an editor for Al Majnoonah [King’s student magazine], but I didn’t have much experience writing news pieces,” says Szeto. “At first, I had a lot of trouble writing articles because I didn’t know MEMO’s style, or how to write journalistically. It took me a couple of weeks to get used to it.” Szeto credits her mentor at MEMO with helping her learn the journalistic style, and about internet journalism in particular, which by nature needs to be “as short and punchy as possible.”
“I’d send my mentor a piece and she would say, no, this isn’t how you write a news article. She helped me become more direct in my writing,” says Szeto. “At the beginning, she would sit down with me and ask me what was wrong with what I wrote and help me figure out how to change it. Once I got the hang of it, she didn’t have to make as many changes. They started off giving me an article a day to write, and it grew to a few a day.” In addition to learning a new writing style, working for MEMO also gave Szeto a greater appreciation for journalism in general, and particularly in the Middle East.
It was always a depressing start to my day when I would have to write one of those stories about a Palestinian child being arrested for stone throwing.
“I was writing these articles and people were actually reading them, and I realized that this is how people get their information,” explains Szeto. “It made me more cautious when I wrote, I knew I had to make it accurate and informative. It gave me a greater appreciation for what journalists do.” Providing comprehensive coverage of Palestine and its regional neighbors, is a large part of what Middle East Monitor does. However, being on the forefront of what was often negative news could be difficult, Szeto found, especially as she took on a lot of the reporting about Palestine and Jordan during the internship. “It was emotionally draining,” says Szeto. “It was always a depressing start to my day when I would have to write one of those stories about a Palestinian child being arrested for stone throwing.” She also learned one of the hard truths about journalism: sometimes
important stories are passed over for more “interesting” news. “It was a bit difficult in that sense. I was like, 'Don’t you care about the children being arrested anymore?’ All of it is worth reporting on, but you can only do so much.” But not all of the articles Szeto worked on were disheartening. During her internship, she worked on at least 60 articles on a range of subjects covering politics and economics, tourism, art and culture. “The fun articles were the ones about Twitter trends,” laughs Szeto. “Whenever I felt like I didn’t want to write about depressing things, I would go and see what was happening on Arabic Twitter.” One of Szeto’s articles, about celebrity Bella Hadid allegedly insulting Saudi Arabia and the UAE, was shared almost 5,000 times (to date) and made it to the number one spot in the “trending section” on MEMO, beating out breaking news at the time about the death of former Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi. “I thought, ‘Is this what people really care about?’ But it was nice to see my article shared so many times.” The articles that Szeto was proudest to have written, however, were the ones that involved the most work and self-initiative, whether in terms of time, research or interviews. One of those was a profile of Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani to mark the anniversary of his death. Szeto particularly enjoyed revisiting the author’s life and work having read a number of his short stories in class at King’s. Of all the articles she wrote, her favorite is one titled “In US universities students who criticize Israel are under attack.” “That is the one I spent the most time on and did the most work on,” says Szeto. “I had to interview a number of university students about their experiences speaking out about Israel on campus and about the activist community there. That was the article I felt the proudest of, because I did so much research and reached out to so many people. I wasn’t just looking up news, I was creating news.” SPRING 2020
Lost in Translation Between Two Worlds A new dual-language course, Lost in Translation, adds yet another jewel to the school’s crown of exciting learning opportunities BY MUNA AL-ALUL
hen Rola Jaber and Mu’nis Mhiedat, faculty members in the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and the Literary Arts (CRLA), came up with the concept of a bilingual literature course last year, they were excited to do something that had never been done before. Eager to get started, it took them only a few short months, and a great deal of collaboration and development, to introduce a new course to the King’s Academy curriculum: Lost in Translation. Lost in Translation provides a bilingual learning environment where the Arabic and English languages are given equal status and instructional attention. The course is designed to simultaneously develop fluency and content knowledge in both languages. Texts are read and discussed in both Arabic and English and, taking a thematic and comparative approach, students examine how issues such as love, coming-of-age, family, gender roles, women’s issues, food, culture and traditions are covered in both languages. “It’s been fascinating,” says Jaber, who teaches English. “The way the students alternate between the languages. The beauty of it is that codeswitching, it wouldn’t be the same if Mu’nis and I weren’t giving the class together.” 18
Offered as an Advanced Seminar to students who have demonstrated fluency in both languages, the class is designed to develop students’ skills in critical analysis, academic writing, collaborative work and oral presentations. “This course provides a unique opportunity to learn two subjects and two cultures, at the same time,” says Mhiedat, who teaches Arabic. “The course is really enjoyable, we — students and teachers — look forward to it all week.” Students have the option of taking the dual-credit course as either English
or Arabic credit, according to Mhiedat, although both languages are used equally during class activities, assignments, group work and discussions, so code-switching becomes second nature. “This course is one of the best courses I’ve ever taken in my four years at King’s,” says Tala Salman ’20. “The content has been flexible and informative as well as very fun. In addition to novels, we also read poetry, listen to songs, read plays and watch movies. All of the things we examine help us understand how the themes are presented in both languages.”
In addition to choosing an eclectic selection of Arabic and English literature to cover in class, the teachers enjoyed designing class activities that would help students understand the limitations and expectations placed on writers by their culture and language, and how that influences their writing techniques and the way they portray themes and ideas. “The activities and learning methods were all creative and helped us use critical thinking and creativity to learn,” says Salman. One such activity took the class to the art studio where they created sculptures that symbolize their “perfect match.” This project concluded the romance unit, during which students had read a novel in English and another in Arabic that, while different tales, were both based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion who fell in love with one of his sculptures, which then came to life. They then wrote poetry and used literature to present the symbolism of their sculptures to the class. In another activity similar to the “speed dating” concept, students are paired off and given a specific characterization or literary analysis question to ask each other. They each have a few minutes to answer the same question, with one referring to the Arabic book, and the other referring to the English book. When simultaneously studying thematically similar English and Arabic literature in this way, students’ understanding of one piece becomes infused with their knowledge of the other, according to Jaber. “Writing was a big part of the class too, and all the assessments that we did were unique,” says Salman. “For example, we took one character from the English novel and put her or him in the Arabic novel. This made us think of how we would alter scenes to go with the personality of the added character and how the environment presented in the book would fit the character from the other culture.” When studying the theme of romance, students read William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the poetry of Qays Ibn al-Mulawwah, a 7th century Bedouin poet. In one activity, the students were asked to write two
letters, one in the voice of Shakespeare and the other in the voice of alMulawwah, each writing to the other to convince him that romance his way is better.
“Lost in Translation is not about comparison and saying one piece of literature is better than the other,” says Jaber. “Our aim is to look at different worlds and ways of thinking.”
Across Two Sides of the Wall ضفتي الجدار من عىل ّ
The Lost in Translation final Capstone project portrays a love story between a Western man and an Arab woman through the exchange of letters, written in his or her own language. Written by the students, the letters take readers on a journey of love, comingof-age and politics, using mythology to bridge emotions and events.
Our aim is to look at different worlds and ways of thinking.
Poetry from one culture is often translated and influences the poetry of another, explains Mhiedat. “If we take poetry from the same era you see how they are similar yet different, and how language plays a role in how they express thoughts and ideas.” To better understand this point, the class was asked to translate advanced Arabic poetry into English and to present the translated text to non-Arabic speakers to see if they understood the meaning as it was originally presented. “It makes students look at language in a different way,” says Mhiedat. “This is one of the many things I really like about the class,” says Salman. “We get creative in each and every assignment and assessment we do. This makes the class fun and insightful at the same time.”
The course also helps students consider the cultural, political and historical contexts behind what they read and watch. To hear the different perspectives of more current authors and orators, several guest speakers were invited to talk to the Lost in Translation class, including Lebanese-Palestinian author and professor of creative writing Mona Al-Shrafi Tayim, Jordanian comedian and executive producer at Roya TV Sharif Al Zoubi, AmericanPalestinian comedian and political activist Amer Zahr, and Jordanian filmmaker and visual storyteller Ala Hamdan. With just eight students and two teachers, this year’s Lost in Translation class developed a close bond with everyone respecting each other’s ideas, despite varying opinions, which helped create a healthy environment for debate and discussion. “I absolutely love the relationship we built with each other, my classmates and teachers feel like family to me,” says Salman. “There are many things that I appreciate about this course, but the major one is the knowledge I gained due to Lost in Translation’s universality and uniqueness.” SPRING 2019
ART AS A LANGUAGE OF UNDERSTANDING Imagined Pages from a Future Textbook about Muhebullah Esmat ’13 BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
ARTIST PROFILE Artist-curator Mediums Print-making, oil painting, mixed-medium sculpture, photography Associated movements Minimalism, Conceptualism, Postmodernism, Digital Art, Digital Video, Activist Art, Postcolonial Discourse Curatorial experience Bard College Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta GA
20–5 • Muhebullah Esmat HIDE THE LIGHT 2016. Wood and plaster sculpture, dimensions. Destroyed 2017.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Muhebullah “Muheb” Esmat (b. 1993) fell into art unexpectedly. Esmat first visited a museum in his final year at Deerfield Academy in western Massachusetts, though it was his year at King’s Academy in Madaba-Manja, Jordan, that allowed him to first explore art creation. Through the Arabic Year program at King’s, Esmat was, in his words, “able to interact with many people from different places, culturally.” He joined an art extracurricular, where he was able to begin exploring artistic expression. Esmat carried his newfound curiosity for the arts to Waterville, Maine, where he enrolled in Colby College as an art history major. Returning home to Kabul in the summer of 2015, he noticed a lack of conversations around art and the study of art history. “The role of art had been pushed to the side,” he says. “How we use art as a tool, as a language to understand the people, that’s lacking in Afghanistan. We need to start thinking and writing about art.” Some of the main drivers of conversation around art, says Esmat, are curators. Curators acquire objects and artworks for museums, effectively deciding which works are important enough for the museum to temporarily display or add to their permanent collection. Curators also decide how the works will be displayed, including the layout of the exhibition and the contextualizing texts. Esmat has expanded his curatorial skills through internships and work experience at museums across the United States and is currently completing a Master’s in Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York. His thesis is the first dedicated exploration of visual culture in Afghanistan. In 2019, Esmat, along with several other Afghan diaspora artist-curators, founded the Afghan Visual Arts and History (AVAH) collective. AVAH seeks to address the lack of conversation about and understanding of art in the country by highlighting local artists. Esmat notes that a central challenge for the curator is how to make museums — spaces traditionally defined by hierarchies of wealth and knowledge — accessible to all. “Art could scare people,” he says. “The idea of not understanding or of being alienated can push people away. But at the root of appreciating art is our search for meaning and for reason in everything.” Throughout his collegiate and postgraduate studies, Esmat has continued to produce works of his own. He defines himself as a contemporary artist-curator with a particular interest in Afghan art. He does not see himself as first and foremost an Afghan artist, explaining that he considers national identity a divisive force that contributes to the continued violence in the country. Esmat’s HIDE THE LIGHT (FIG. 20–5) is an exploration of frames and boundaries. The wooden and plaster sculpture highlights the tension between our desire to break free from imposed, structural limitations and our fear of breaking conventions or exposing our vulnerabilities. At the center of the composition, a pair of hands breaks through the frame in a triumphant burst of light, though the fingers curling back suggest a lingering hesitation. Esmat produced this sculpture while at Bard. Unable to transport the full piece back to Kabul, he broke apart the sculpture, which remains in fragments — an ultimate expression of breaking down frames.
There were many people running out of the mosque, but not one of them seemed to pay us any regard. They wouldn’t even look back, but I knew that you would. Where were you? It’s been a week. They came to take the bodies, they cried, they even buried some. They took pictures of the mosque, and then they started to wash and repaint it. Within a week, it looked like nothing had ever happened. I’m still waiting for you, hopeful of your return. Even if you never return, I will always be reminded by the stains of your sweat, tears, and blood that I carry on my skin.
BOX 20–2 • Muhebullah Esmat 08.25.17 (EXCERPT)
20–5 • Muhebullah Esmat with his work 08.25.17 2017. Color photographs, 10” x 10” digital prints.
20–6 • Muhebullah Esmat 08.25.17 2017. Color photographs, 10” x 10” digital prints.
While HIDE THE LIGHT represents universal themes through abstraction, 08.25.17 (FIG. 20–5) memorializes a specific event in Afghanistan. Esmat was in Kabul when an Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) carried out an hours-long attack on a Shi’ite mosque in the north of the city. Esmat was struck by how quickly the city seemed to move on after the attack. “The next day after an attack that took 20, 30 lives, the street gets washed up, the blood is gone, and people just walk about as normal,” he says. “The violence has become so routine that we have become very numb.” 08.25.17 captures the horror of the massacre without depicting the violence directly, in contrast with the tendency of the news media’s constant showing of victims’ bodies, Esmat explains. He says he had noticed a recurring effect of such attacks, especially on mosques, schools and other places of public gathering: in the wake of the atrocity, shoes of those present would be left behind. Even those who were able to escape with their lives would tend not to return because of the associated trauma. Esmat collected the abandoned shoes and worked with two photographers to memorialize the attack by capturing fragments of the lives the victims left behind. “Sometimes these ephemeral things can tell a much stronger story, and they offer a different view than usual,” he says. “Our attention spans have gotten so much shorter and we’re used to stories of atrocities being told in the same way, so we become numb.” The photographs are accompanied by a letter written from the perspective of one of the pairs of shoes (BOX 20–2).
She Loves Me hits all the right notes BY MUNA AL-ALUL
With She Loves Me, King’s Department of Art, Design and Technology delivered exactly the kind of production everyone loves: a feel-good musical comedy awash with romantic trials and tribulations, sentimentality and humor, and plenty of singing and dancing. Set in 1930s Hungary, She Loves Me, based on the book by Joe Masteroff and featuring music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, follows the adventures of the staff of Maraczek’s Parfumerie. Two perfume clerks, Georg and Amalia — played by Dongmin Kang ’20 and Yara Mustafa ’20 — are constantly at odds with each other, but unbeknownst to them they are also long-time anonymous pen pals who have fallen in love over the pages of their letters. Georg and Amalia stumble 22
their way to a happy ending aided by their friends at the perfumery, each of whom has their own worries and dreams that were brought to life on stage through charming song and dance routines reminiscent of some of the decadeâ€™s most iconic musicals. Some 20 cast members, 24 crew members, nine orchestra members, and tens of faculty and staff worked together to present this yearâ€™s fall
musical, directed by Alison Trattner, to family and friends in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium on December 8, 9 and 10. Impressive set designs depicting bright and colorful shop and restaurant interiors, cozy homes and cold and blustery Hungarian streets, lively music, talented acting and impressive vocals brought the musical comedy alive and put smiles on the faces of the packed audience.
OLD FRIENDS, NEW BEGINNINGS
Longtime Faculty Depart King's
R E E M
A B U
R A H M E H
When Reem Abu Rahmeh joined King’s Academy in 2007 as a music teacher, the school was in its infancy, and she had no idea how much both she and the school would grow and change together over the next 13 years. Starting out with a music program made up of only six violinists, Abu Rahmeh made it her mission to seek out and nurture other budding musicians on campus. Today, King’s has a full orchestra, chamber music groups and more. But Abu Rahmeh believed that King’s had a bigger role to play in helping Jordanian society recognize the importance of music. That led to the first Jordan Youth Musicians Conference (JYMC), a collaboration of young musicians from around the country, taking place in 2013 and which has since become an annual tradition at King’s. Abu Rahmeh’s talent for nurturing the bonds that bring and keep people together did not go unnoticed, and she was asked to serve as the dean of the freshman class and then as associate dean of students. It was in these roles that Abu 24
Rahmeh came up with what are now some of the school’s most cherished traditions: the annual freshman trip to Jerash, special lunches, the orchestra’s annual Habitat for Humanity trip and outreach concerts, the freshman “tea and tree” event and freshman letters. She had not expected to be around long enough to see even one class of freshmen re-read their letters as graduating seniors. Turns out she was there as five classes did! When King’s decided to extend the school’s mission by opening the Middle School, Abu Rahmeh was selected as the school’s first dean, where she proved over the next four years to be exactly the innovative leader the Middle School needed to create a learning environment unlike any in the world. Whether as a dean, a pianist, a violinist, a cross-country coach, music and math teacher, orchestra conductor, cupcake baker, solution-maker, or fast friend to faculty and students alike, to say that Reem Abu Rahmeh will be missed at King’s Academy is the understatement of the century.
L I N A
S A M A W I
In her 10 years at King’s Academy, Lina Samawi has worn many hats and gone by many names — most frequently, an animated Ustathaaa! called from across a field. Samawi joined King’s Department of World Languages in the winter of 2010, first teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speaking faculty members. Although she started out her career working with faculty, she loved to spend time with students, helping them feel at home in her new home on campus. In 2013, she was appointed dean of the freshman class — a position she has continuously held since then, welcoming seven freshman classes to the King’s community. Samawi was one of the first faculty members to start teaching Global Online Academy (GOA) courses, and she further demonstrated her creative prowess when she began teaching Arabic to students in the Arabic Year program (AY). In 2017, she was named Director of Arabic Year. She also started a key annual King's tradition: the Faculty Arabic Play. Since 2010, she has organized, written and directed every one of these comedic skits that showcases the faculty's Arabic and acting prowess. Samawi has contributed much to King’s, but it would not be fair for us to keep her creativity, tenaciousness and joyful spirit to ourselves. She is leaving King’s and Jordan at the end of the academic year to join the faculty of Deerfield Academy. We wish you all the best, Ustatha Lina, and hope to see you back again soon for a visit!
Z E I N A
R E H A N I
She may be known as Ustatha Zee to thousands of her followers on social media, where she teaches Arabic to nonspeakers through fun “word of the day” videos, but for the past decade Zeina Rehani has been part of the fabric of King’s Academy. Starting out in general administration in 2010, Rehani soon moved the Department of Communications and Publications where, as well as being the department coordinator, she worked as a videographer, capturing countless special moments that make up the story of King’s. Rehani felt a calling to teach, however, and in 2016 she began teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language in the Department of World Languages. There, her creativity and passion for teaching helped make learning Arabic easy, fun and memorable for her students — who often took a starring role in her SnapChat videos! But what really makes Rehani part of the school’s fabric is her love and enthusiasm for every aspect of life at King’s. Living on campus for the past nine years and an energetic member and head of Atair House (and formerly Alnilam), Rehani can often be seen — and heard! — around campus, a bright beacon of school spirit. Whether supporting her students and advisees in the classroom or in the dorm, leading weekend activities or taking the stage during faculty lip syncs and plays, Zeina Rehani could always be counted on to be there, a loving and much-loved part of the King’s family. SPRING 2020
g n i g n a h C yan a R , t star at y h p t s m r ove a bu c r s i e ke t d a t Af 8 1 ’ n a athry nstinct c h S our l y i A s t t u rg flec u e r o y t sts. a g e h n r t i t e t e s tru d in plac n a a e o you t rue natur t BY M
hen alumnus Rayan AlShathry ’18 headed off to Boston for university after graduating from King’s Academy, the last thing he expected was that within a year his life would change 180 degrees. Realizing that he had no interest in studying business, Saudi Arabian AlShathry made the difficult decision to drop out of university and devote his time to something he had recently discovered a passion for: oil painting. After moving to Beirut, where he was renting a studio to concentrate on his art, an impromptu visit to a local art gallery resulted in AlShathry being offered an opportunity most new, young artists only dream of. In July 2019, Beirut’s Artual Gallery presented How to Exit the Metal Room, AlShathry’s first solo exhibition. Beyond King’s caught up with AlShathry to find out more. HOW DID YOU GO FROM BEING A BUSINESS MAJOR TO LEAVING UNIVERSITY AND TAKING UP ART FULL TIME? I was back in Saudi Arabia during a university break, buying art supplies at the time, and a well-known painter I know happened to be there and introduced me to the person he was with, who was in charge of the creative department of King Faisal Hospital. They asked me to donate a piece or two to decorate a new section of the hospital. I worked at this hospital for two weeks, spending all my time painting in the hallway. Hospital staff — and the best part, the patients — would stop and watch me paint. It was an unbelievable experience. It unlocked something in me, it gave me a boost of confidence. So, I went back to Boston and I really messed up my studies because I was constantly painting. My roommate even moved out because of the smell of the paint! I was in Boston for the better part of a year to study business, but from the first second, I knew I didn’t want to do it. There was no spark of interest [for
business], that was the worst thing. The people there — and what they wanted to achieve in life — were very different from me. So I left, and am now taking a year off to figure out what I want to do. HOW DID YOU WIND UP PRESENTING A SOLO EXHIBITION IN BEIRUT? I moved to Beirut and rented a studio for a couple of months to work on my paintings. One day I walked into a gallery; I had my art book with me, and I showed them my work. I was hoping they’d take one piece, but they told me they wanted to do a solo exhibition! I was very grateful because this doesn’t happen to everyone. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT YOUR ART THAT MADE THEM OFFER YOU A SOLO EXHIBITION? Artual Gallery likes to support new talent, and they told me they haven’t seen anything like my work. It’s different, provoking, not very kind. The gallery owner was the one I spoke with and she liked my work. The gallery manager was also there but was not very supportive. They were arguing a bit about it, which was quite funny. TELL US ABOUT THE EXHIBITION I called the exhibition How to Exit the Metal Room. I was there for the opening reception on July 4. People were very supportive and proud of me, because I’m so young. That was nice, but to be honest, I would rather have heard what they thought about my work. What I enjoyed most was
watching the people going around the gallery looking at each piece. I sold nine out of the 10 pieces I exhibited. I had worked really hard and put a lot of effort into them, so I was very grateful. As it was my first exhibition, I didn’t know what to expect. I kept asking myself, “why is this happening to me?” CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? I have my notebook which I carry everywhere and take notes in about what I see and hear. I really like history, especially Islamic history and art, and reading about philosophy and politics. I like knowing more about different things and viewpoints. So, everything that goes into my work is political, historical. There’s a bit of math, and I also try to add a bit of my own philosophy. I don’t like putting a time limit on my work, I have my canvases and I just paint and finish when I finish. When a painting is done, I flip it over and don’t look at it again because there will always be something I want to change. I paint without thinking, the colors come from the inside. I don’t always know why I paint something. Later I look at it and think, “Oh, this is what I meant, I saw this that day, maybe there’s a connection there.” I build a story in my head and add one thought, then another, and keep building on it to make it richer. It comes naturally; I wouldn’t say I express myself when I paint, it’s more that I discover myself.
After penning a five-part article series about women’s rights in the Middle East, Raghda Obeidat ’20 won first prize in News Decoder’s global story-telling contest. BY MUNA AL-ALUL 28
aghda Obeidat ’20 had always believed that there was a rigid dichotomy between Arabism and feminism, until a suggestion to write about women’s rights in the Middle East for News Decoder, a global educational news service for young people, gave her the opportunity to delve deeper into the subjects. The resulting five-part article series won her the first prize in News Decoder’s annual, global storytelling contest for multimedia content tackling cutting-edge social and political issues. Growing up as part of a family that always encouraged her to stand up for what is right, and where deep discussions about topics such as politics and religion were commonplace, Obeidat — who considers herself a staunch feminist — jumped at the opportunity to cover women’s rights issues. Obeidat began by interviewing Reem Abu Hassan, a lawyer and former Jordanian minister of social development. She also attended a talk given at King’s by Dr. Salma Al-Nims, secretary general of the Jordanian National Committee for Women. Building on these sources, Obeidat began to examine the role of women in the Middle East, covering a range of sensitive topics including child marriage among the Syrian refugee community, domestic violence, honor crimes, Islamic feminism, the low economic participation of Jordanian women, and the struggle for gender equity in the workplace. As a global publication, News Decoder has a large international readership. Knowing this, Obeidat was determined to cover the topics in a way that counteracted the negative stereotypes perpetuated by Western media — which often takes charge of and distorts the Arab and Muslim narrative. Of the six articles, one titled “Women’s Rights Can Advance Under Islam” was particularly controversial among readers, generating the most critical comments. “After reflecting on what Abu Hassan had to say, I realized how
important it is for us to form our own version of feminism, one that goes hand in hand with Arabism,” says Obeidat. “That is something that I felt an international audience should be informed of.” Obeidat says she wanted to use her writing to educate readers on the fact that Arab culture and Islam were not entirely responsible for propagating the patriarchal system. Obeidat discovered through her research that, in fact, historical and more recent interventions by European nations into Middle Eastern territories were partly to blame, having contributed to making many Arabs fearful of being “Westernized” or forfeiting their sovereignty.
It is easy for Westernized youth to fall into the trap of thinking they have to shed their Arabism to be true feminists.
“Their [European] interventions into our region have helped spark a politics of opposition as well as religious fundamentalism,” Obeidat writes. “That fear has manifested itself in various ways, including in widespread opposition to advancing women’s rights. Since many people associate such advancement with the feminist movement in the West, they perceive opposition to it as one way to fight Westernization.” She goes on to explain how this was not always the case in the Arab world, and how women’s rights activists in the kingdom are drawing on historical tribal practices to make their case for women. A historical tribal practice called aldakhala, used in one example recounted by Abu Hassan, garnered support for the establishment of shelters for victims of domestic abuse. According to this practice, a woman suffering from domestic violence could seek the protection of the tribe. The
tribe would offer her refuge and the tribal chief would act as her advocate. Therefore, current activists argue, in a modern-day context the state must take on the role of tribal chief and provide women with refuge and support. “It is easy for Westernized youth to fall into the trap of thinking they have to shed their Arabism to be true feminists,” says Obeidat, who admits it is a dilemma she still struggles with. “But when do we cross the line into culture erasure? Do we advance our rights at the cost of Arabic culture? Those are questions I really hoped I could address through this series.” Obeidat relished the opportunity to learn more about the roles and rights of women in the Middle East within the context of culture and religion, and is grateful for trailblazing Jordanian women — like Abu Hassan, Al Nims and journalist Rana Al Husseini — who paved the way for her to be able to freely discuss these issues. “Many of us don’t know much about the work being done by committed members of civil society, only that they are trying to improve the status of our rights,” says Obeidat. “So, being able to talk to someone like Abu Hassan was such a joy to me because it made me realize that so many passionate people are pursuing progress.” The experience of covering these issues also helped Obeidat gain more confidence, not only in her journalistic abilities — she is now considering a career in journalism — but by empowering her to believe that she is capable of being an agent of change. “I managed to reach so many people through my articles and, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel entirely helpless in the face of complex issues that I thought were too big for me to tackle on my own,” says Obeidat. “I felt like I was able to do something about it. We are all capable of doing something. Every step is a step forward, no matter how small.”
The illustration on the left page was done by Ke Deng '22
GIVING THANKS BY GIVING BACK After spending a stimulating semester at King’s Academy learning Arabic, Deanna Lonsdale ’22 was moved to give back. BY MUNA AL-ALUL
hen Deanna Lonsdale ’22 joined King’s Academy for a semester abroad in August 2019, not only did she learn about a new country and language, but she found herself welcomed by a community of students and teachers, who — while all very different from her — made her feel right at home. Upon returning home to New York, where she attends The Chapin School, she reflected on her experiences at King’s and everything she had learned in those four months, and knew she wanted to give back in some way. She soon found an opportunity to do so, thanks to a philanthropic family tradition. At the end of every year, in lieu of a holiday present, Lonsdale and her cousins are given the opportunity by their grandmother Harriet Warm to designate a US $100 donation to the charitable organization of their choice. Last winter, fresh from her semester in Jordan, Deanna Lonsdale chose King’s Academy as the recipient of her gift. “I had just come back from Jordan, and I like to donate to things that are important to me,” says Lonsdale. “And King’s is really important to me. It was just something I felt connected to.” As part of the process of gifting, Lonsdale and her cousins have to justify their choice to their grandmother with a written proposal (see sidebar). “My grandmother was very supportive of my decision because she knows what a good school it is and how much I enjoyed it.” 30
“It’s really the people, the community, that I found at King’s,” says Lonsdale. “I never had that kind of closeknit community before, especially with people so different from me. I really got along with everyone and formed a lot of meaningful relationships.” Supporting education is also something Lonsdale strongly believes in. Growing up, her parents always stressed upon the importance of education. “You start school at around five years old and it’s the basis for everything in your life. I just felt it was important to give back to an institution like King’s that really advocates for education.” Boarding for the first time during her stay at King’s, Lonsdale also appreciated being in an environment that allowed her to build deeper relationships with her teachers, and to learn about the Arab world from her friends. Her experience at King’s is just one of the reasons that Lonsdale believes that giving back to your own school is tremendously important. “It’s important to support your school because it gave you so much information, so much guidance, so many things that you will use for the rest of your life. It’s a way to show your connection to your school and to say thank you.” Another important reason to support your school, she says, is that it helps to further the education of someone else. It helps the institution grow and improve and invest in the next generation of students. “Giving back to other people and service work is something really important at King’s, especially since half the students are on financial aid,”
says Lonsdale, who took part in various service activities such as litter cleanups and playing with refugee children through the Reclaim Childhood initiative. “I saw a lot of giving back. Sometimes just small gifts or gestures that no one else knew about but it was important to those people.” When it comes to students giving back, Lonsdale believes that it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, or how big or small the gift is, or whether it’s a gift of money or you volunteer your time. It all counts. “Even if you feel that your gift is tiny, if other people give too, then together we achieve something big.”
Deanna’s Gift Grandmother:
“I had an amazing experience at King’s Academy and I want to support its mission in any way I can. Especially since roughly half of the students receive financial aid, I feel strongly about giving to King’s. The community there is very welcoming, the faculty are determined to educate everyone on many different levels and topics, and they offer an endless amount of both academic and non-academic opportunities. The persistent message of stimulating learning and growth is definitely something I agree with and benefited from while at the school, so I want to show my gratitude by donating to the institution because it upholds my values and gives back to others as well.”
Type a message
FROM BOARDER TO BOARD MEMBER Noor Eddin Amer ’12 Is the First King’s Alumnus to be Appointed to the Board of Trustees BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
Noor Eddin Amer ’12 carving pumpkins for Halloween in 2008
he Induction ceremony appointing new Head of School Peter Nilsson in October also marked a first for King’s: Noor Eddin Amer ’12 became the first alumnus to be appointed to the Board of Trustees. In 2006, Amer received a few pieces of paper that would change the trajectory of his life. The son of two teachers originally from Mas-ha, Palestine, Amer was always at the top of the class in his public schools in Sahab, an industrial city southeast of Amman. He recalls the lack of quality instruction at these schools, as illiterate students were in his classes as high as the fifth grade. One day, ten-year-old Amer was called into the teacher’s lounge and given an application for a brand-new summer program at a high school that hadn’t yet opened. He took the application home and filled it out without much thought. A few weeks later, Amer was notified that he had been accepted to participate that summer in the inaugural session of the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) at King’s Academy, a full year before King’s officially opened its doors to students. Amer participated in SEP in 2006, 2007 and 2008, finally enrolling as a freshman at King’s in the fall of 2008.
Top row: Hani Abu Ali, Talal Shaer, Bisher Baker, Michael Hess Middle row: James F. Warren, Esq., Daniel Szeto, Ali Kolaghassi, HE Aqel Biltaji, Peter Shoemaker Bottom row: Sirene Sidani Abu Ghazaleh, Aisha Shoman, HE Mazen Darwazeh, Sabih T. Masri, Peter Nilsson, HE Bassem Khalil Al-Salem, Noor Eddin Amer
Through King’s, Amer found the intellectual challenge that had been lacking in his previous schools. His toughest hurdle was learning English. Biology class was particularly challenging, and Amer would selfimpose an additional hour of study hall each evening. During that hour, he would work his way through just one page of his biology textbook, an Arabic-English dictionary by his side. By the end of his freshman year, Amer had acquired fluency in English and a reputation for a love of learning and work ethic that continues to precede him. Michael Kussaim, who was Amer’s advisor at King’s, describes him as “always willing to aid his peers.” From his freshman days, “Noor Eddin Amer was industrious, motivated and empathetic towards his community,” Kussaim says. As the only alumnus on the Board of Trustees, Amer brings a unique perspective on and connection to the school’s mission. “King’s gave so much to me, it’s imperative on me to give back in some capacity,” he says. “I think that when His Majesty envisioned King’s Academy, he envisioned it as a beacon of hope for Jordan, the region and the world, so one of the main challenges is: how do we go beyond the walls of King’s? How do
we go beyond those 600 or so students here and have an external impact?” Part of the answer, says Amer, is through creating new generations of global leaders by ensuring a strong, accessible education. After graduating from King’s, Amer enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), completing a bachelor’s in computer software engineering and a master’s in computer science. Much of Amer’s work at MIT — both as part of his academic program and through internships and extracurricular activities — revolved around leveraging technology to develop effective teaching methods and platforms. King’s, says Amer, is uniquely situated to succeed in the rapidlychanging educational environment. The relative youth of the school, its valuable mission and its emphasis on educational innovation — particularly in the Middle School — give it momentum that other, more traditional institutions may lack. In addition, King’s Academy’s commitment to educating students from all corners of the Kingdom and all walks of life ensures that students like Amer will be able to access the opportunities afforded by a King’s education. “Being part of the board, a top priority of mine is to make sure that King’s continues to be financially
accessible to all of our student body,” Amer says. “Money should never be an issue in deciding whether you want to be at King’s.”
You need to be creative. If you don’t see a venue to give back to King’s or to Jordan, create that venue.
However, Amer notes that creating future generations of global leaders takes time, and the job of King’s is not finished once graduates receive their diplomas. He stresses the mutual responsibility between the school and its alumni in creating a network of support that can benefit current students, alumni and communities beyond King’s. “You need to be creative,” he advises alumni. “If you don’t see a venue to give back to King’s or to Jordan, create that venue.” Creative efforts among alumni like Amer are also addressing more immediate issues beyond the King’s campus. While at MIT, Amer helped SPRING 2020
launch the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) which provide students with opportunities to work and do research abroad. Amer trained students who worked in Jordan through MISTI, including several who taught at King’s. Another MIT student and King’s alumnus, Rami Rustom ‘16, along with Saria Samakie ’17 and William Close ’16 launched Fikra 3al Mashi, a “mobile classroom” aimed at reaching refugee communities in Jordan. In his new capacity on the board, Amer is already making effective contributions to the King’s mission. “Though the youngest on the board, Noor Eddin has offered valuable insight to our trustee meetings,” says Chairman of the Board HE Bassem Al Salem. “He brings the voice of an alumnus to the table, and that is essential for ensuring that the spirit of King’s Academy is represented and sustained in our work.” Head of School Peter Nilsson describes Amer as “an asker of excellent questions.” “One of the great skills of strategic thinkers is asking just the right questions to surface just the right information to help make the best possible decision,”
Amer in Pella in 2011 as part of the Good Water Neighbors project
Nilsson says. “From the first phone call I had with Noor Eddin, I have been so deeply impressed by his ability to be intentional: to think carefully and to reach well thought-out conclusions.” Amer sees a future in education beyond his work on the Board, largely driven by the impact a King’s education has had on his own life. Of King’s Academy’s Five Guiding Principles, he identifies most closely with the second: Love of Learning. “I think in many ways the key to life is to always be a student and to never think that you’re a teacher,” he says. “As long as you love the process of learning you’ll do well in life, because there’s always more to learn.”
Introducing HM King Abdullah II at the opening ceremony for the 2012 regional Round Square conference at King’s
KING’S ACADEMY APPOINTS SIX NEW BOARD MEMBERS Six new members have been appointed to the King’s Academy Board of Trustees, including the first King’s Academy alumnus board member. The new appointees include Managing Partner at The Family Office Hani Abuali, Senior Member of Technical Staff at Oracle and King’s alumnus Noor Eddin Amer ’12, MENA Markets Leader at Ernst & Young (EY) Bishr Baker, Head of School at College Preparatory School in Oakland Monique DeVane, Founder of Foundation Global Education Daniel Szeto, and independent marketing and management professional and former IBM executive Linda Whitton.
entrepreneurs and fostering future entrepreneurial trailblazers. Baker holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and accounting from the University of Bristol.
Noor Eddin Amer Born and raised in Sahab, Jordan, Amer attended the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) at King’s prior to enrolling as a student in 2008. After graduating in 2012, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer software engineering and a master’s in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He works as a senior member of the technical staff at Oracle in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Amer is the first King’s alumnus to be appointed to the Board of Trustees.
Hani Abuali Abuali is closely connected to King’s, as his three children have attended the school. A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Abuali has over 28 years of experience in investment and finance in the US and Asia. He is a managing partner at The Family Office (TFO), a multifamily office and global investment manager, and is a member of TFO’s Investment and Executive Committees.
Monique DeVane In 2011, DeVane took over as head of school at College Preparatory School in Oakland, California after working in admissions at Brown University and later as a college and guidance counselor. She serves on the board of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). DeVane holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior from Brown University, and a master’s in positive organizational development and change from Case Western University.
Bishr Baker As a MENA markets leader at EY, Baker oversees the 21 EY offices operating in the 16 countries across the region. Since 2011, Baker has sponsored the global Entrepreneur of the Year program in Jordan, celebrating leading local
Daniel Szeto Born in Hong Kong, Szeto attended the Webb Schools,
an independent boarding school in California, which imparted on him the importance of globalized boarding schools. Szeto completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Cornell University, and worked in management consulting and financial services for 10 years before realizing that education was his true calling. In 2001, Szeto founded the Foundation Global Education, the largest educational consultancy in Asia. Szeto’s daughter is a senior at King’s.
Linda Whitton The daughter of an American foreign service officer, Whitton spent the first two years of her life in Amman. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in history from Middlebury College, Whitton pursued a career in business and marketing with IBM before co-founding a consulting firm to assist companies in supporting their female executives. Whitton is or has served as a trustee or director at a number of non-profit and educational institutions, including Deerfield Academy and Middlebury College. SPRING 2020
LEADERSHIP FOR A NEW ERA Why creativity and connectivity are essential in extraordinary times, by Head of School Peter Nilsson
Peter Nilsson (left) meeting with faculty members
n January 22, when Jordanian Minister of Health HE Dr. Saad Jaber was watching news reports about a virus emerging in China, it wasnâ€™t the number of cases that he noticed, nor the number of deaths, it was the hazmat suits worn by the emergency responders and the announcement of a total lockdown of a city of over 20 million people. 36
The response measures seemed disproportionate to the perceived threat. Something was coming, he thought. Something more than an annual flu, and Jordan needed to be ready. Two days later he convened the infectious disease committee. Soon after, the Ministry of Health launched an awareness campaign. When COVID-19 finally came, Jordan responded assertively, taking measures that stifled the virus more
successfully than most countries in the world. National health was greatly preserved, even if the national economy suffered. That economy was the focus of Minister of Finance HE Dr. Mohammad Al-Ississ. When he considered the economic impact of a national lockdown, he understood the pain it would cause. But looking to the long term, he saw that if the virus was contained, the country could reopen sooner, it
could avoid more significant long-term losses and enable a quicker recovery. This has borne out. At the time of writing, we are opening deliberately and safely, while many other countries are opening hastily and with significant projected cost to life. What does leadership look like in a time of crisis? Here at King’s, we were fortunate to hear from both the minister of health and the minister of finance as part of the COVID-19 Symposium this spring. Conversations with both yielded similar responses to questions of what makes effective leadership: have a plan and a back-up plan, build and support a strong team, listen widely and pay attention to details, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. These are leadership essentials.
from a master class in leadership. We need only take the time to study them. This crisis and these examples of leadership remind us of our purpose here at King’s. In the words of His Majesty King Abdullah II, “King’s mission is not just to prepare young men and women to succeed in life, but to develop and empower young leaders who will drive change within and beyond their communities, and eventually across borders.” He continues: “The knowledge and values that King’s instills in its students help shape confident, well-rounded individuals and inspire them throughout their life paths as change-makers of a shared future of peace and opportunity.” The middle and upper school years are a time for developing the habits of
Further, implicit in both of their stories is the need to keep a long-term perspective. Asking questions about the future — both hopeful and dire — is essential. What will the future hold? Can we see through the noise of today to anticipate the possibilities for tomorrow? What actions can we take to avert the worst and invite the best? Plans, teams, attention, comfort navigating mistakes, and imaginative foresight. These lessons emerge as if
mind that lead to the kind of success and leadership that His Majesty envisioned and that the ministers embody. These habits of mind — built on a foundation of critical thinking and creativity, communication and collaboration — shape student futures. These habits of mind include independence and resilience, respect and responsibility, and an appreciation for the value of diversity. They lead students to take ownership of their learning, to care for
the common good, and to welcome the change that is necessary to drive progress. I came to King’s Academy because of its commitment to two ideals: excellence in the kind of holistic education that can be offered only at a boarding school, and service not only to the single community of a city, but to a country, to a region and to the world. There is no school that reaches for these two goals the way King’s Academy does. The only boarding school of its kind in the Middle East, it is positioned uniquely. In its combination of local, regional and global relationships, King’s is unlike any day school in Jordan and unlike any other boarding school in the world. At King’s, students from Jordan enter an international, academically rigorous, residential environment and build relationships with peers from around the world, launching them into dialogue with difference from the moment they arrive on campus, and preparing them to enter a global marketplace of ideas and work. At King’s, students from around the world attend not just any one of hundreds of English-speaking boarding schools in the United States or the United Kingdom, they attend a school rooted in Jordanian and Middle Eastern history and culture. They become enriched by and attached to a country and region at the heart of the world and at the forefront of global thinking. Did I expect in the year I would begin here that there would be a global pandemic that would force us to re-invent the very model of what we do? I don’t think any of us did. But the purpose of this school, in service not only to our students but also to the country and beyond, pushes us to rethink how our global position can translate what would appear to be a drawback into what would become an opportunity. Moments of crisis need people who can shape the narrative, not only respond to it. Students and teachers at King’s took this opportunity. First, when COVID-19 struck Jordan, it meant getting the teaching right. Once it was clear that the lockdown in Jordan would extend through the spring, we transformed our SPRING 2019
teaching and learning, drawing from best practices already ingrained in our faculty. More teachers at King’s Academy teach for Global Online Academy (GOA), a leading online course provider, than almost any other school in the world. These teachers distilled their knowledge into a guide to transitioning from onsite to online learning and not only used it to shape our teaching as a school, but also to share these practices with the world, leading to the King’s Academy Guide for Teachers for a Smooth Transition from Onsite to Online Teaching being featured at Harvard University and other educational institutions. Then, having established a strong foundation in online teaching and learning, teachers at King’s recognized that extraordinary times call for extraordinary attention. The COVID-19 Symposium was born out of the recognition that our community needed an opportunity to study, reflect and act on this moment in time. It was only a small leap to recognize that an online symposium for our students and teachers could equally serve as an online symposium for the broader community and the world as well. Service to students and to country. Fostering leadership in our students and modeling leadership as a school.
Through it all, our students led the way. When we could no longer have a prom, students organized a virtual prom. When it became clear that we could also no longer have an in-person graduation ceremony this spring, students began creating a multiepisode docu-series on the experience of this unusual senior year as a way of both looking back at what has passed and marking the significance of the moment going forward.
Asking questions about the future is essential. What will the future hold? Can we see through the noise of today to anticipate the possibilities for tomorrow?
Further, in their downtime during our virtual spring, students have reached out to me with questions, proposals and ideas for a whole host of other initiatives and topics: a communications project to support families in need as a result of
COVID-19, an app development project to make school information more easily accessible on mobile devices, a reflection essay on current events, and more. These voluntary efforts, these steps above and beyond what is required, are signals that the mission of King’s Academy is thriving even in complicated times. I feel fortunate to arrive here, at a school so well established by my predecessors Eric Widmer and John Austin, and to inherit a student body, a faculty, a staff, a leadership team, a growing alumni base, and a parent community ready to continue and further establish the legacy of this extraordinary institution. In the COVID-19 symposium, students engaged with government officials, artists, teachers, mathematicians, investors, business owners, refugee support workers and more. These are all leaders who charted their own courses and are making a difference in the lives of others. How will our students, galvanized by their time here, chart their courses and positively impact the people around them? These are the questions we ask every day. I look forward to seeing you all in person in the coming weeks, months and years.
“Home-made” videos become an indispensable tool for Nilsson in the era of COVID-19
Taking Traditions to the Web After moving online, King's found creative ways to continue treasured school traditions Annual Arts Showcase Each May, the Safwan M. Masri Courtyard comes to life for the Annual Arts Showcase, featuring the work of AP Art and Design students. This year, under the
theme "Creating in Crisis," the Showcase moved online. The website goes beyond visual art — the usual focus of the showcase — and includes music, theater and
dance, as well as student, faculty and staff photographs from quarantine and special workshops prepared by local artists for the King’s community.
No semester would be complete without a dance project from Mr. Ryuji! This spring, King’s launched “Alone Together,” a collaborative online dance project together with Midan: Amman Dance Lab. Fourteen King’s students and three faculty members took part in the 42-video series, interacting with 25 other participants selfquarantining in Jordan, the Czech Republic, Italy, Bulgaria and the United States. The online nature of the project allowed the artists to collaborate across not only geographic boundaries, but also other obstacles that could usually preclude dancing together, such as experience, language, age, profession, institutional memberships and socioeconomic class.
The 11th annual Arabic and English declamation semifinals and finals were held via Zoom on May 6. King’s alumnus and former Arabic declamation champion Barik Mhadeen ’11 joined the online finals as a special guest. Mhadeen shared his love for the declamations, which he described as “one of the most exciting experiences I had at King’s.”
Watch the dance performances here, and a recording of the declamations is available online. SPRING 2019
WHERE LIFE AND LEARNING COLLIDE King’s Online Symposium Examines the Human Experience of the COVID-19 Pandemic BY ANTHONY LILLY
In April 2020, King’s Academy organized a two-day online learning event, the King’s Academy COVID-19 Symposium, offering students, teachers and the wider public the opportunity to understand, study and reflect on the current global pandemic. Local and international experts were invited as guest speakers, such as Jordanian Minister of Health HE Dr. Saad Jaber and Minister of Finance HE Dr. Mohamad Al-Ississ. Over 60 speakers, from people working on the frontlines of the pandemic, to COVID-19 survivors, to teachers and economists, doctors, scientists, researchers, historians, artists, NGO workers, lawyers, bankers and more, delivered a series of short presentations, workshops and discussion forums addressing the COVID-19 crisis from multiple disciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives. Questions such as “What is the COVID-19 virus?”, “Why has Jordan responded to the COVID-19 pandemic the way that it has?”, “What is “exponential growth and how does it help us understand how viruses spread?” and “How is this pandemic affecting the global economy?” are just a sampling of the wide range of questions posed and the ensuing discussions that took place during the symposium. The symposium, which was open to the public and shared via various social media platforms and shared via various social media platforms using the hashtag #COVID19KA, generated thousands of views and a great deal of positive engagement.
n the first weeks of the coronavirus, no one knew its full symptoms, its transmissibility or its mortality rate — much less its long-term effects on economies, governments and populations. Indeed, much is still uncertain. But even in those early stages, King’s Academy’s teachers were already showing students that their education here could — and should — be applied to the world around us. Biology students learned about the structure of viruses, history students learned about earlier pandemics and how they were managed, and art students learned about cultivating creativity in isolation. But not every student was taking Biology, or World History or Studio Arts. Every student was affected by COVID-19, however. I spoke to Head of School Peter Nilsson about ways our teachers could expand the reach and impact of their COVID-related lessons. How could teachers share their valuable expertise more widely and empower all our students to apply their learning to the global stage? And how could students engage this global phenomenon as educated, thoughtful and responsible citizens? After all, His Majesty King Abdullah II’s guiding vision for King’s Academy is clear: education is to be used, not squandered.
We as teachers are specifically directed to “develop and empower young leaders who will drive change within and beyond their communities and eventually across borders.” To meet this demand (and in just two weeks!), a core group of teachers organized an international, online symposium to examine the human experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we designed the symposium first and foremost for our students, the head of school made the ambitious decision to open the symposium to the world, thereby asking the King’s community to collectively model the kind of leadership that His Majesty envisioned for our students. The entire King’s Academy community worked together to make the symposium (still available through the King’s Academy website) a reality. Faculty members helped participants understand the virus and
its effects through the lenses of the arts, humanities and STEM disciplines by working tirelessly to produce engaging video tutorials, lessons and activities. Board members and parents reached out to experts they knew who could provide fresh perspectives. Staff members built an online platform to host the symposium and executed a communications plan to publicize it. Distinguished guests shared their perspectives as professionals in medicine, government, business and service organizations. Advisors led students through the symposium experience, with time to learn, discuss and reflect. And most importantly, students engaged their communities — their families, friends, school or government — with a final project that transformed their two days of learning into action. Using apps and artwork, posters and policy recommendations, our students emerged as the leaders they
came to King’s to become. And through the extraordinary efforts of the entire King’s community — from the founding charge of His Majesty, to the expertise of our teachers and the generosity of friends of King’s, and continuing through the creativity and hard work of our students — the country and the world became a little more informed, a little calmer and a little safer. As the school year returns to its new normal routine, we now go to our regular class meetings about the quadratic formula and the past participle. But we do so with a sense of purpose and with the certain knowledge that in a moment of need, we proved that a King’s Academy education matters and that our students really could change the world. Anthony Lilly is the head of English in the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and the Literary Arts (CRLA).
PHILANTHROPY AT ITS BEST Philanthropia, the “loving of human,” was thought to be the essence of civilization. The Platonic Academy's philosophical dictionary defined philanthropia as “a state of being productive of benefit to humans.” How much can we relate to this term amid these times of extreme global uncertainty? BY RAMI ABI JOMAA
he COVID-19 outbreak took the world by storm when it began in December 2019. Healthcare systems, financial and educational institutions, governmental sectors and many other entities were on the verge of collapse — and many did. However, one common trend seen in every nation across the world was a show of unprecedented solidarity as people came together to fight the pandemic. Philanthropy at its best has been demonstrated across the world, and most notably in Jordan where the whole country committed to working collectively to help flatten the curve and combat the COVID-19 outbreak. From the earliest days of the crisis, individuals began donating — time, money, whatever would help — to those in need. At the national level, a Jordanian fund was introduced to organize fundraising in support of the treatment of patients, to provide tests and medical supplies, and to support the Jordanian economy. Given all this, we at King’s Academy feel very grateful to be in part of a country that has taken such quick and decisive action to protect and support its people.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE In giving and philanthropy, leading by example is key, and His Majesty King Abdullah II has steadfastly and compassionately led the way in mobilizing the nation’s efforts. The founder of King’s Academy, His Majesty inspired every sector in the country to start giving and to work together toward one mission: preventing the underprivileged from suffering and ensuring the survival of Jordan’s socio-economic wellbeing. The establishment of “Himmat Watan” (A Nation’s Effort) Fund demonstrates this collective effort and spirit of giving.
HM King Abdullah II addressing the nation on April 10, 2020
THE GENEROSITY OF KING’S PRIDE IN TRUSTEES OUR OWN INSTITUTION
is transnational and transcends religion, gender, race and ethnicity. These acts of giving prove that philanthropy is a way to stabilize and protect society during times of crisis.
We at King’s Academy are also immensely proud of the efforts of our trustees who started donating to the medical sector even before the establishment of the national fund: Chairman of Capital Bank HE Bassem Al-Salem pledged one million JOD. President of Hikma Pharmaceuticals Limited HE Mazen Darwazeh donated two million JOD worth of medicines, while Chairman of the Board of Arab Bank Sabih Masri oversaw the donation of three million JOD to the Ministry of Health to support its efforts to contain the virus. Dar al Handasah Chief Executive Officer Talal Shair donated USD 600,000 to the Lebanese Red Cross and the Lebanese public hospital to fight the disease. And through Abdali Hospital, Mr. Ahmad and Mrs. Sirine Abu Ghazaleh P ’20 ’23 have provided medical awareness, advice and expertise on how this virus operates and how to protect ourselves. These donors, and too many others to name here, showed that philanthropy
Finally, we are proud of every member of the King’s Academy community — students, teachers, alumni and parents, board and staff members — who have all come together to aid the national initiative through fundraising, offering their expertise, logistical help and through many other ways. The King’s Academy community continues to demonstrate that their spirit aligns perfectly with the school’s mission to serve our wider communities. This pandemic is trying to set the world adrift, and while we are uncertain what the future holds, one thing we can be sure of is that love for our fellow humans, beautifully expressed through giving and determination to survive, is the only “certain” thing in life. Rami Abi Jomaa is chief advancement officer at King’s Academy. SPRING 2019
More than a
Students Reach Out to Refugee Children
Students write messsages to refugee children
around the world into the local language, writing the messages by hand and decorating the cards to make them even more personalized and heartfelt. At King’s, students are writing their messages to Syrian refugee children in Jordan. Jad Bataha ’20 initiated and leads the co-curricular at King’s. He first learned about Letters of Love directly from its founder, a counselor at the Seeds of Peace camp that Bataha attended in 2017. In the co-curricular, students write their own letters in addition to translating submitted messages to Arabic. Bataha also prepared an educational module in the co-curricular to familiarize students with the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan and equip them with information about how to address children in precarious situations.
BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
an you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter? The convenience of sending emails or texts with a few taps has made letter-writing largely a relic of the past. But thanks to the Letters of Love co-curricular at King’s, letters are making a comeback. The co-curricular is run in conjunction with Letters of Love, a global initiative to send messages of support to refugee children. Volunteers translate the letters submitted from 44
Students share their letters with refugee children
Lara Masri, the faculty supervisor of the co-curricular, sees letter-writing as a powerful opportunity to connect with these vulnerable children and give them hope. “A thank you letter makes my day, so imagine a child who is not around their parents, who is outside of their country — what could a letter do for them?” she asks. “A letter lets them know that people are thinking about them, that they are not alone.” So far, the co-curricular has prepared hundreds of letters, some of which were distributed to Syrian refugee children at an organized visit to the Red Cross Center in Madaba. There, in addition to giving out the letters, King’s students made crafts and played games with the children. One of Bataha’s main goals for the cocurricular is to encourage students to consider ways they can build upon the letter-writing initiative. “A letter isn’t going to change the world; at the end of the day, it’s just a letter that they would read and maybe enjoy for a few minutes,” he says. “But I believe that the first step is always going to be something small, and then it gets bigger and bigger. You can’t start at a big thing.” Although a letter may not change the world, it can certainly mean the world to a vulnerable child in an unsafe, isolating situation. Masri believes that this power of a handwritten letter gives the initiative importance that extends well beyond King’s Academy’s campus. “We are not only doing a co-co,” she says. “We’re giving children the feeling that they’re not alone, that they’re important, that they can be empowered.”
King’s Academy took community engagement to the next level this year, giving two local schools a major uplift by renovating spaces and shifting mindsets. BY MUNA AL-ALUL
new service activity initiated by the junior class at King’s Academy has given a local school for underprivileged children a major facelift. In a true act of community engagement, the entire King’s Academy community worked together to raise money and renovate the Erenbeh Elementary School in Al Jiza. In addition to the 11th grade class, led by Class Dean Maram Haddad, dozens of faculty and staff volunteered their time and skills, from members of the finance department to grounds staff and bus drivers.
The juniors started by holding a fundraising event at the Student Union that raised 498 JOD through direct donations and the sale of junior classthemed t-shirts. They also worked together on creating a large painting to gift to Erenbeh School. After visiting the public school to assess its needs, King’s discovered that major renovations including plumbing, electricity, painting and carpentry — at a cost of 2,500 JOD — were needed to fix-up a rundown auxiliary building used by 150 students in grades one to three who had been moved out of the main school building due to
overcrowding. King’s Office of Student Life donated 1,000 JOD and hired an external contractor to begin the overhaul of the building’s electrics and plumbing, joined by volunteers from King’s maintenance team. After spending a couple of days laying the groundwork for the renovations, scores of 11th graders, faculty and staff spent an additional day completing internal and external renovations including sanding and painting desks and walls in seven classrooms, among many other tasks. King’s also donated used furniture such as desks, cupboards, fans and art supplies. SPRING 2020
“I truly enjoyed helping out,” says Omar Alsulaiman ’21. “I’ve donated to important causes, but when you actually go to a place and help, it is a totally different experience that I will never forget.” “It is really important to support the education of youth in areas like Al Jiza,” adds Alsulaiman, who believes that renovating schools in need should become an annual activity at King’s. Fanar Al Derzi ’21 and Ahmad Younis ’21 then took the initiative of organizing a charity festival, King’s Fest, to raise the remaining funds needed for the school's renovation. Hundreds of people, including orphaned children invited through Al Aqsa Association, King’s students, faculty, their families and friends enjoyed games, sports, art activities, musical performances, a bazaar and other activities at the fun community event on October 19. King’s Fest succeeded in raising over 1,500 JOD to cover the remaining costs of the Erenbeh School renovations. “King’s Fest was the biggest studentled fundraising event ever held on campus,” says Al Derzi. “The greatest gift to our community is when we contribute to making lives better: when we touch lives by the dint of donations, spreading light to the most needy and enlighten our souls in the process."
How one playground renovation inspired another The Erenbeh School wasn’t the only one to get a makeover by King’s this year. A new cocurricular, The Power of a Gesture (or Lafteh Gawieh in Arabic), organized a sale last fall to raise money to renovate the playground at Al Namouzajieh School in Madaba. The playground was seriously lacking in any games or equipment, but its teachers and students were proactive in coming up with alternative ways to play, such as by painting a football net on the wall in lieu of
the real thing. (This resourcefulness provided the inspiration for the playground renovation at Erenbeh School!) Upon visiting Al Namouzajieh School, King’s students started by asking the kids to draw pictures of their “dream playground.” Then, to make that dream come true, King’s students organized the fundraiser with support from the peer counselors and the Parent Council. Over 250 students, faculty, parents and staff turned up to purchase baked goods, plants, artwork
and other items promoting wellness and positivity. The sale reached its goal, raising around 1,000 JOD that was used to purchase sports and recreational equipment for Al Namouzajieh School. Following the renovation, which provided the students with their much improved “dream” playground, students taking the Creative Outlets co-curricular organized a fun-day with the kids to celebrate the new playground with fun and “colorful” activities.
own community in problem-solving. They could, for example, identify the expertise within their parent groups in order to call on parents for future support. What started as a junior service initiative proved to be an exercise in teamwork and community building within and beyond the King’s community.
“Community service might be a onetime thing,” says Dakhil. “Community engagement is different. Even at King’s Academy, we need to think creatively and engage our community for support. Although we can’t solve all of Erenbeh School’s problems, we are part of their community. We are simply one school trying to help out another school.”
E POW R
But the support to Erenbeh School did not stop there. Haddad and Nada Dakhil, King’s director of wellness and advising, knew that simply offering a few days of service would not be a sustainable solution for the school in the long run. With that in mind, they offered to host an interactive capacitybuilding workshop on resourcefulness for the school’s headmistress and teachers. The aim was to foster a culture of problem-solving at the school, rather than relying on others to provide solutions. During the workshop, held under the theme “Empowered by my ideas, efforts and community,” the teachers came up with ways to troubleshoot some of the challenges they faced using the resources available to them. Among the challenges, which ranged from curriculum issues to lack of resources, was a bare playground. The school also lacks a main gate, making it impossible to secure any playground equipment. To overcome this challenge, after the workshop the teachers worked together in a show of school spirit to paint simple playground games on the ground and walls, such as hopscotch and a football net. They also discussed other ways to raise school spirit, how to take better care of the resources they already have, and how to engage their
s ’ s g e l n i p K C u
BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
Alumni, Faculty and Staff Find Lasting Love at King’s
ven before King’s Academy opened its doors to students in the fall of 2007, it was unlocking hearts. Since its founding, King’s has introduced 14 couples that are now enjoying their happily ever afters. They shared some fun stories and favorite memories with Beyond King’s.
Fatima Al-Yousef and Ahmad Marrie Fatima (Tima) joined the IT Department at King’s in 2007 as an intern. The staff member who was meant to train her was busy, so the training fell to Ahmad, which is how they met. During training, Ahmad explained the different types of cables to Tima, who wrote her name on a section of cable. Ahmad kept the cable, and showed it to her after their wedding. They have one daughter, Masa. “He used to make me sandwiches and fill my desk drawers with chocolates whenever I was busy and couldn’t go to lunch during break.”
Tamara Jumean ’10 and Tareq Alsalem ’10 Tamara and Tareq met at King’s Academy’s first Orientation Day in 2007. Throughout their three years at King’s, they took two classes together. They were frequently separated by their teachers for chatting! As weekly boarders, they would spend time before curfew together on “dinner dates” in the dining hall or by ordering in food. Zaid Al Rifai ’10 and Samiha Al Fayez ’11 The only class Samiha and Zaid took together was AP Human Geography. They were very competitive and would constantly compare grades. One year, King’s organized a schoolwide time capsule event, in which each student placed an item into a time capsule that was buried on campus. Samiha and Zaid selected items that had to do with one another. The location of the time capsule has since been forgotten — maybe one day it will be accidentally discovered! “Zaid and I attended our high school’s first prom together in 2010! It was the first ever prom in King’s Academy’s history, so it’s a special memory.” 48
Shaadi Khoury and Dima Khozouz Mutual friends encouraged Dima, of the Human Resources Department, and Shaadi, of the Department of History, Religion and Society, to get to know one another. After a year of exploring shared interests in art, culture, travel, family, and the region, Shaadi proposed at the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi.
Imad Zahr and Farah Abu-Jazar Farah and Imad met and got to know each other through their work in the Office of Student Life. When the students learned about their engagement, they organized a zaffe on campus, distributing invitation cards in the dining hall and leading a spirited procession to the Academy Building. Farah and Imad have two children, Karim and Maria. “We quite often would walk to the fields and the track after study hall check-in for some privacy!”
Ahmad Abu Mathaneh and Inas Salahat Ahmad worked in the Hess Family Dining Hall, and Inas was a bus supervisor. Although they have both left King’s, they say that the “amazing environment at King’s Academy has given us wonderful memories of the time we met. We will never forget our time here.”
Emily Clark and Jamie Magagna Emily and Jamie got to know each other while chaperoning the Arabic Year Eid break trip in 2015. Describing the trip, Emily says: “We traveled all around Jordan, from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea on a giant bus all week. We will always have Imad Zahr to thank for being cupid: choosing us both as chaperones and thus beginning our relationship.” Their first date was at a little Yemeni restaurant near the University of Jordan. It remained their favorite restaurant in Amman, and was one of the last places they went before leaving the country. They worked together on Al Majnoonah, the literary magazine of King’s.
Maria Schreiber and Darien Tontar Both math teachers, Maria and Darien had the same teaching schedule during Darien’s first year, so they spent free periods getting to know one another. One day when Maria wasn’t feeling well, Darien cheered her up by adopting a cat, Lola, from the Humane Center. Lola still lives with them — despite Darien’s cat allergy! “For some reason our advisory lunch tables were merged right after we started dating. We’re not sure how/ why that happened but it only added fuel to the students’ speculation that we were a couple!”
Hadley Roach and Matthew Westman Hadley and Matt got to know one another through proctoring many mall trips together. Their favorite hangout spots in Amman were Wild Jordan, Abu Jbara and Hashem’s. They also explored Jordan together on many hikes. SPRING 2020
Salwa Manaja and Baraa Salah Salwa and Baraa met in 2007 at a Mother’s Day celebration on campus. Salwa works in the Round Square Office and Baraa works in the Finance Department. They would frequently sit together at lunch, which was unusual in the early days of King’s as most staff members sat with their own departments only. They have three children. “Baraa played goalie in the Thursday afternoon football matches (a tradition living on at King’s till today) and I always went to cheer.”
Ruba Haddad and Chris Bossie Chris met Ruba at a house heads dinner held at Beit al Mudeer, and says he “knew then that I wanted to marry her.” One of the first things they did together was a hike at Wadi Mujib along with Mr. Ryuji. Ruba’s car broke down on the way so they spent most of the trip waiting by the side of the road for help! Chris would frequently get manaqish from the Kaziyeh and bring them to Ruba’s classroom for “manaqish dates.” They have two girls and are expecting their third this summer. “When I asked for Ruba’s hand in marriage, I didn’t have a “tribe” to go to her family, so Mazen Jarrar was my spokesman.”
Dima Saad ’12 and Hunter Bell ’12 Steve Uydess and Gabi Wintner Although they didn’t start dating until after they had both left King’s, Gabi and Steve met in 2009 as teachers in the History Department. They grew close over their shared love of 80s night at Cube in Amman and of sports, running the Dead2Red race together as part of team Chicken and Rice. Gabi and Steve have three children: Hutch, and twins Cooper and Perrin. “We often talk about the whims of fate that guided us both to the same faraway spot in the same year; we certainly would never have met had it not been for the opportunities we both found at King’s.”
Tiffany Norman and Hassan Refai Tiffany and Hassan met during the first-ever faculty vs. staff soccer game held in January 2007, prior to the opening of King’s. Tiffany was a teaching fellow and Hassan worked in the Maintenance Department. They got married in the summer of 2008 and held a celebration in the Safwan M. Masri Courtyard, including karaoke and fireworks. They have three children: Layla, Yasmine and Zidane. “Hasan did not speak English and I did not speak Arabic when we met. Salwa [Manaja] and a number of dictionaries helped us communicate with each other.”
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT BY MUNA AL-ALUL
Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) that keeps volunteers coming back year after year. The 14-yearold program has touched the hearts and souls of the teachers, counselors and organizers who volunteer their time, energy — and even money — into the one-of-akind educational program.
Launched by King’s Academy in 2006, a year before the school opened its doors, SEP is an annual two-week program for students in grades 6, 7 and 8 who attend for three consecutive summers to develop their skills in English and information technology, as well as to experience King’s residential life. In 2019, SEP welcomed its largest class yet: 195 of the most promising students from around the country. Forty-seven teachers and counselors from Jordan and abroad came to teach and provide around-the-clock care to the students while they boarded at King’s for the duration of the program. Giving up two weeks of their summer break, 23 current King’s students were counselors, while nine King’s alumni returned to their alma mater as SEP teachers. Many have volunteered with SEP before, so what is it about the program that keeps them coming back? Beyond King’s sat down with King’s alumni to find out exactly what it is they love about the Summer Enrichment Program.
GIVING BACK Currently studying industrial engineering at the German Jordan University, Rita Asfour ’16 jumped at the opportunity to be welcomed back into the fold of the school community she had missed. King’s has given her a lot over the years, she says, so she wanted to give back. “I learned as much as I taught, I think,” says Asfour. “You don’t realize how much you’ve learned until the students leave. You have permanently invested in a child who will probably never forget you. I saw the happiness in their eyes when I complimented their work and encouraged them to do more. This made them believe they could do more, and they loved it.” Giving back to King’s is also important to Kareem Al Wazir ’17, currently studying business law at Carlton University in Canada. “Looking back at the culture of King’s when I was student, and seeing what we’re doing here at SEP, you see how King’s is giving back to the community, and it’s 52
even more amazing when you can be a part of that as an alumnus,” he says. “
THE CHILDREN “I love being around the kids,” says Balqees Al Shorman ’18 who has volunteered with SEP for three years and was herself a SEP student before enrolling at King’s in 2014. “They bring positivity to your day. Their eagerness and energy push you to work harder for them, because you know they want to learn more. They opened up to me, and to find myself worthy of their trust is what keeps bringing me back to SEP.” The relationships formed with the children are also important to Asfour: “My favorite thing about SEP is the friendship you develop with the students. It’s a mixture of friendship and parenthood, both a huge responsibility.”
LEARNING MORE ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE JORDANIAN SEP is an experience you can’t find anywhere else, according to longtime volunteer Shahd Al Jawhari ’13 who works as a math teacher at King’s Academy. “I particularly enjoy getting to know the students at SEP because I get to know people from around the kingdom. I learned a lot about what it
means to be Jordanian outside of my own experience.” “A highlight for me as a Jordanian was being able to reach into their communities and being allowed to learn about their family and lives,” says Al Shorman, who is majoring in architecture at Jordan University of Science and Technology.
PROVIDING A KING’SQUALITY EDUCATION Having personally experienced both SEP and a King’s education, Al Shorman knows well the difference SEP can make to people’s perspectives and dreams. “SEP is about giving bright kids access to King’s-quality education. Boarding allows kids to construct their own individual thoughts and beliefs around simple matters. I believe that we alumni should be the first to present the new methods of thinking we learned to these kids.” “What’s memorable to me about SEP is watching the students’ progression from 6th to 8th grade,” says Ahmed Khalayleh ’15 who has volunteered with SEP for three years. “In 6th grade they didn’t speak much, and by 8th grade they’re having debates and discussions, and being respectful of other opinions. Learning English is one thing but learning to communicate is really what I enjoy seeing while I’m here.”
WORKING AS A TEAM Another thing that makes the program so special, according to Al Wazir, who is back for his third year of SEP, is its team of organizers, teachers and counselors who are all working from the heart to benefit the children. “SEP reminds you of what real teamwork is. You have 40 people working as one team, and you aren’t working here for you, you’re here for the kids. That’s the magic about it.”
IGNITING A PASSION FOR TEACHING “It started as a way to use my time productively during the summer break, and I have come back every summer since,” says Al Jawhari, back for the ninth time. “When I started volunteering as a SEP teacher, it became even more meaningful and rewarding. I was interested in teaching, and every year I came back, I found more meaning to teaching and it helped me seriously consider it as a career.” “Being in SEP for so long, I see them come back to graduate, to see their siblings graduate. This year I saw one of my students from my first year at SEP walk across the stage and graduate from King’s! That was moving,” Al Jawhari adds. “When I came to SEP I thought I’d do one year, but when it was done I felt guilty because I didn’t have any teaching experience and felt the kids deserved better,” says Ahmad Freihat ’16. “So, I told myself I’d come back next year and do a better job. I did, and every time I do it I get better. SEP is teaching, it’s communicating, working as a team; it’s all these things that are helping me grow, and I keep coming back to try and be even better for the kids. It’s almost addictive!”
INSTILLING A LOVE OF LEARNING “When I asked my students what their favorite part of class was, it wasn’t watching a movie or playing a game, it was doing poetry,” says Freihat. “On the last day of classes, I gave them the
option to just sit and talk, or to do one last poem — they chose the poem. It made me feel I had done my job well.” “SEP is special in that it doesn’t create a reliance on education, but in a sense an independence of it. At the start, I would give them a poem and ask them for a creative analysis, and they were unsure how to do that,” adds Freihat. “At the end, they were able to have a personal understanding of it and be creative, and to do that process for themselves.”
FULFILLING THE KING’S MISSION “As King’s students, we received the best education and opportunities one could ask for,” says Al Wazir. “At school
we learned about the vision of His Majesty King Abdullah II, and by volunteering in programs like SEP, we work towards fulfilling that vision of a better Jordan. That’s another part of why I love SEP, it gives you the opportunity to impact people.” “Another thing that’s different [about SEP] is the demographic in the room,” adds Khalayleh. “Programs with tuition are limited to those who can afford it. But these are kids who, if not for SEP, wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience this type of schooling or education. It gives them a different perspective on education: they see it can be collaborative, fun, inspiring. King’s is a gateway to all sorts of opportunities that SEP on a smaller scale has opened up a door to.” SPRING 2019
THE F LITTLE PRINCESS OF ALEPPO Alicja Borzyszkowska ’18 Recounts the Bravery of Displaced Syrian Youth BY ALICJA BORZYSZKOWSKA ’18
Reyhan (left) with Alicja Borzyszkowska ’18
irst, they killed her aunt. That night, much as the night before and the night after, the neighborhoods in Aleppo were empty. People were hiding in the street corners, covered with dust from their houses that had fallen. Every now and then, lights from the airstrikes that pierced the ground illuminated the peoples’ faces against the back shadows. In those brief moments of visibility, women would quickly keep track of those who were still alive. Men would count the dead. Their job was easier because the frayed contours of human flesh beneath the walls say what words no longer could. That was a few years ago. Today, each day, Reyhan wakes up in her small bed, 1,119 kilometers — 695 miles — from Aleppo. Since the summer of 2016, she has been in a summer school in Istanbul, just like 78 other refugee kids with whom I began to work after they escaped the war in Syria and reached Turkey. Reyhan is one of the unprecedented 70.8 million refugees currently displaced around the world according to 2019 statistics by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Among them are nearly 25.9 million registered refugees, over half are under the age of 18 — including Reyhan. It is early morning, sometime in June. Reyhan and I are both in a classroom of a public school, located not far from the shores of the Bosporus. In a few minutes, both of us will appear in front of the camera for the filming of the first-of-its-kind documentary about Syrian youth in Turkey. The project is a partnership between Open Citadel Studios and Give a Hand, an organization supporting refugee families, for which I am a program director. Reyhan is wearing a blue abaya and a dark scarf and looks beautiful. I’ve known her for years, but she never fails to surprise me with new evidence for how intelligent and mature she is. It is an almost unbearable effort to be kind, informed, productive and strong when you are worried about not being
able to go to school, about a roof over your friend’s head, about how to replace your sister’s shoes, about how to secure money for lunch or about how not to get engaged too early — being haunted and chased by the daily unresolved problem of existing. But refugees must withstand these difficulties and more because rescue is not going to come from anyone else. Reyhan knows this. She will do everything in her power to become a teacher, and this is why we are here. We are sitting in silence, waiting. I can tell that Reyhan is a bit nervous. She will be filmed for the first time in her life. This young woman is only fifteen but she has already seen too much; it shows in her eyes. We have five minutes before the camera will roll. I ask her: “Hey Reyhan, what is your favorite book?”. “[ األمري الصغريThe Little Prince],” she replies. Then she looks down at her hands. I know that she is holding something back. I decide to wait. A few moments later, I watch Reyhan raise her head, as she looks into my eyes as bravely as ever, and tells me her own story about The Little Prince. Back at home in Syria, Reyhan used to read this book with her aunt almost every night. They shared a room in a small compound and used to fall asleep together. One evening, unexpectedly, the bombing began in their district. Reyhan and her aunt had minutes to leave. Only one of them made it alive. Reyhan never got to read The Little Prince again. As Reyhan finishes the story, my vision blurs and my breath slows down, because I realize something. I have an Arabic-language copy of The Little Prince in my bag. It was the first book that I read in Arabic and it very soon became one of my favorites. I carry it with me almost everywhere I go. The more I have been traveling, the more I’ve become aware that solitude is bearable with books, awful without. I repeat “ ”األمري الصغريto myself and before I fully realize what I am doing, I have already gotten up from my chair, reached into my bag and withdrawn The Little Prince, handing it to Reyhan. The look on her face as I do this is
Reyhan is not just waiting for change. She is the change that I hope the rest of us will acknowledge. She continues to build her life in Istanbul every single day with grace and courage, learning the language and customs of the people whom she learned how to trust. Reyhan keeps Aleppo deep in her heart and she wants to return there one day. War correspondent Martha Gellhorn once said that “nothing is better for selfesteem than survival.” For Reyhan, just as important is her sense of belonging to Syria.
Alicja Borzyszkowska ‘18 one I will never forget. When I think about this moment now, two years later it was one of the most intimate and profound experiences of my life. Reyhan. Two minutes later she was on the set talking about her dream to become a teacher.
Refugees must withstand these difficulties and more, because rescue is not going to come from anyone else.
Our film directors, Alessandro Leonardi and Elena Horn caught this moment on camera, which is how the title of the documentary — Pizza, Democracy, and The Little Prince — came to be. The film had its international premiere at Sedona Film Festival in Arizona in 2019, where it won the prize as “Best Documentary Short.” Since the premiere, this film has made a bold statement across the world about the right of Syrian youth in Turkey to be viewed primarily as children whose dreams, struggles and aspirations are just as valid as those of anybody else.
As a young social activist from Poland, Alicja Borzyszkowska ’18 is deeply passionate about the issues of displacement in the Red Sea region, the impact of war on children and the securitization and supply chain of humanitarian aid. She met Reyhan, the Syrian girl featured in the article, in Istanbul, where for the past three years Borzyszkowska has served as a program director of the nongovernmental organization, “Give a Hand.” Through this role, Borzyszkowska has been involved in work with refugee families, organizing social and emotional learning programs and tailoring trauma-informed and child-focused curricula for Turkish elementary schools that educate Syrian refugee youth. Most recently, Borzyszkowska was involved in establishing the Gazi Research Project, a platform substantiating academic research with practical conclusions to promote high impact social change for refugee communities. As part of her role in the project, she organizes special awareness events that aim to change the perceptions of refugees in the West.
t used to be that the Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art course was an exercise in efficiency. The robust course portfolio requirements comprised three sections: Breadth, Concentration, and Selected Works. Required to produce a total of 24 artworks by the end of the year, students turned in, on average, more than one piece per school week. Students emerged from the course knowing more about producing an artwork with speed than with intention and forethought. That was the conclusion of the College Board, which introduced a wide array of changes to the course after the 2018-19 academic year. The retooled version of AP Studio Art, called AP Art and Design, eliminated the Breadth section, which showcased students’
ents d u t s rt dio A u t S AP us on c o f o y t learn uantit q t o y, n qualit B
MA Y THO
abilities to work across artistic media, and reduced the total number of required artworks. Most significantly, the new class mandates that the artwork produced throughout the year be completely student-driven, from initial idea to final artwork, underscoring the importance of ideas, process and research. For the Selected Works section, students submit their five strongest final pieces, and for the Sustained Investigation section, students submit 15 images that show works of art and process documentation based on a guiding idea. In other words, students do not need to produce 15 final pieces; in addition to final works, they can choose to submit process and design 56
work, whether in the form of sketches or research recorded in their sketchbooks or the final works themselves. On a day-to-day basis, students work from the ground up, beginning with written and visual exploration in their sketchbooks. They may work for days researching and doing initial composition sketches before synthesizing it all in a final piece. Such methodological work is foreign to many new AP students, who describe process work as challenging, but rewarding. Painting student Salma Al-Kaabneh ’20, whose project focuses on the visual expression of her vivid dreams, says, “In painting classes outside of school, the teacher would give us a picture and we would try to copy it on our canvas.
“Working by myself, I usually just come up with something and paint it. So I had never done sketchbook work, and now I see it as an integral part of my process.” Fathia Aulia ’21, who works in the medium of photography, initially found research difficult. “I didn’t know what to research,” she says, “so in my first photograph I ended up using elements that just did not work together. Research is really important because without it, your art may be perceived as expressing something you didn’t intend to express.” Perhaps the biggest change for students was in the Sustained Investigation section, which reflects the course’s new emphasis on ideas. At the beginning of the year, students
are tasked with producing a Guiding Question (GQ), an inquiry that guides their Sustained Investigation work for the entirety of the school year. Unlike in the past, they no longer get prompts to respond to; the entirety of the project is student-directed, with feedback from teachers. In their sketchbooks, students document their engagement with their GQ: their research, their sketches, and their writing about how they translate their ideas into their art. “My previous art classes were more focused on technique as opposed to ideas,” says Ke Deng ’22, a drawing student whose work details the psychological and materialistic elements of pet-owner relationships. “Normally, in school, you portray ideas through writing and that we tend to distract ourselves from.” Aulia ’21 witnessed her project focus shift from
GQ; their research, their sketches, and their writing about how they translate their ideas into their art. “My previous art classes were more focused on technique as opposed to ideas,” says Ke Deng ’22, a drawing student whose work details the psychological and materialistic elements of pet-owner relationships. “Normally, in school, you portray ideas through writing and
Orientalist stereotypes to specifically about hijabwearing women. “At first, the idea didn’t connect with me,” she says. “So after doing research, I figured out what I actually wanted to say, and I changed it to focus on portraying hijabis as confident, which they express through their fashion and facial expressions.” Students in past years used to submit one piece per week to their AP teachers, whereas they now aim to submit one every 10 school days. And many elect to submit sketchbook work or research in lieu of a final piece, in keeping with the AP’s emphasis on process work. In general, students praise the opportunity to focus more on quality SPRING 2020
Unlike in the past, students no longer get prompts to respond to; the entirety of the project is studentdirected, with feedback from teachers.
than quantity. “Last year I thought, ‘It’s going to be such a hard course because we’re going to have to do 24 pieces’”, Ahmad Al-Daoud ’20 says. “But now, it’s more rewarding because you get the time to perfect your pieces and fully understand what you’re doing.” Deng describes how fulfilling it is “to see how each piece contributes to the guiding theme — it’s much more about the progression of pieces than before.” The drastic change in course structure has led to transformative artistic growth for many students, fulfilling, perhaps, the College Board’s goals. Al-Daoud says, “My perspective on art has really changed. As an artist, now I understand that I have to actually research something and that everything has to have a point. If I put a line, what does that line mean? It’s really important to answer those kinds of questions.” Al-Kaabneh, who, like Al-Daoud, plans to make art while studying at university, adds, “I’m going to keep sketchbooks in the future, and I’m definitely going to continue making art for myself. If I don’t get recognition, so what? In the end, art and I are never going to separate.” 58
RAISING SYRIAN VOICES Founder of Help4Refugees Jordan Hattar Teaches the Importance of Sharing Stories BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
ore than nine years since major demonstrations broke out across the country, Syria continues to be ravaged by war. The effects of the crisis are not localized but ripple outward, with millions of refugees fleeing for safety. Jordan has received one of the largest shares of refugees, with an estimated 1.3 million settled across the country — or one in three inhabitants of Jordan. For Jordan Hattar, Syria was a “far away, distant conflict” during his college years studying international studies at California State University Long Beach. It was only when his Arabic professor divulged that her cousins had been killed in Damascus while trying to help their neighbor that Hattar felt a sudden, unshakable desire to help. The founder and director of Help4Refugees, a nonprofit organization aiming to share stories from Syrian refugees worldwide, Hattar spoke with students during school meeting and in smaller sessions in February. Despite his youth, the 27-year-old has had a lasting humanitarian impact through direct service work in the United States, South Sudan and Jordan, and across
the world by speaking at schools and universities in over 40 countries through Help4Refugees. Hattar founded the organization in late 2012, taking a semester off college to work in Al-Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan. He called his presentation “Voices of Syria,” as he shared stories he heard from residents at the camp. One of his first encounters at Al-Za’atari was with an elderly grandfather who was mourning the death of his three-year-old grandson, Ahmad, the evening before. The grandfather protested against the frequent depiction in international media of refugees as unappreciative usurpers. “We’re not ungrateful,” the man said. “We’re just pleading for help. We’re just trying to get the world to care.” How do we get the world to care? Hattar believes part of the solution lies in telling stories to make atrocities like the Syrian refugee crisis personal rather than abstract. “We can learn about these issues academically, but how do we go out and make real changes beyond this bubble that we live in? I think one of the best ways to do that is to make these issues personal through stories,” he explained. “Stories, to me, empower service. Stories change the way we think.”
Students speaking with Hattar were eager to learn how they could get involved in assisting Syrian refugees in effective, respectful ways. First, Hattar said, we need to make sure that our assistance is born out of the intention to work with those in need of help, rather than merely throwing resources or services their way. “When thinking of helping, I don’t think of it as one group helping another; I think of it as a partnership,” Hattar said. “So that listening component is really important. We also need to make sure that we’re working with the people from this community and making sure we’re listening to their needs and what they want to share.” This can seem a monumental task, especially for someone who has never volunteered before. However, Hattar assured students that they shouldn’t be afraid to start with something small. “We have to be a little naïve to make a difference in this world,” he said. “Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean we can’t do something; it doesn’t mean we can’t start somewhere small.” And where can we start? By listening to someone’s story.
(Intersectional feminism) 56
BY LEEN ALABED ’10
eminism has become such a polarizing term today, with some completely identifying with and proudly adopting the feminist label, while others — some of whom actually do believe in gender equality — utterly shun this “f word.” How many of us have noticed that our parents treat us differently from our brothers or sisters? Men, how much pressure has society put on you to be “macho,” “masculine” or “strong?” Women, how often do you feel objectified by society? This is exactly why we all — men and women, boys and girls — need feminism and can be feminist activists. Feminism is a way of thinking and acting that aims to achieve social, political and economic equality of the sexes in the public and private realms of life. Feminism seeks to dismantle systems of oppression, mainly patriarchal and male-dominated social structures, in order to open up the possibilities for a more just world. Feminism is not about pitting women against men or merely the fight to get equal rights and opportunities, but it is also about deconstructing the binaries of gender (masculine vs. feminine; boy/man vs. girl/woman), sex (female vs. male) and sexuality (homosexual vs. heterosexual; asexual vs. pansexual) as distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of lived experiences, and looking at gender, sex and sexuality as a spectrum instead. Gender stereotypes are attributed to us even before we’re born — usually during “gender reveal” parties. Don’t even get me started on gender reveal parties, though, which should actually be called “sex reveal parties.” Gender stereotypes start when blue is attributed to boys and pink to girls, certain superhero and Lego block toys to boys, and dolls, babies and play kitchens to girls. These expectations roll like a snowball throughout our school years, accumulating even when we are adults. Can men truly drive better than women? Do women really have “maternal instincts” and are they better cooks and caretakers? Or are these all just stereotypical assigned gender roles? Everything from families and societies
to social media and movies have been reaffirming and reifying those gender stereotypes — stereotypes that feminism is slowly but surely chipping away at. Intersectional feminism, with which I personally identify, attempts to identify, understand and address the intersecting and reinforcing systems of power that exacerbate gender discrimination and affect those who are most marginalized in society. An intersectional feminist approach analyzes the overlap of these (oppressive) systems of power, including gender, age, race, class, (dis)ability, nationality, sexual identity, religion and creed. Within this analysis, intersectional feminism acknowledges that women have different experiences. What this essentially means is the experience of a working-class woman from a minority race or religion significantly differs from that of a younger upper-class woman. To confront and dismantle these systems of power, we must adopt feminist approaches that are centered around women’s agency, knowledge and forms of leadership. The Westerncentric approach of “empowering” or “educating oppressed women,” adopted by many INGOs, deprives women of agency and posits them as “objects” that need saving. Work with women and marginalized communities should be built on a participatory approach, in which they shape the direction based on their knowledge, needs and contextual analyses. As current practices of peacebuilding globally — and specifically in the Middle East and North Africa region — only deal largely with the already powerful, there is a dire need for major shifts in power towards citizens, especially the marginalized. Making the fundamental shift in peace building processes requires challenging existing power structures and creating access to voices that are usually marginalized and excluded from these decisionmaking spaces. Looking at peace from a feminist perspective broadens the existing narrow approach that considers peace to be the absence of the violence of war. Feminist peace examines the linkages between violence and war, and the socio-economic and cultural structures
that produce and reinforce this violence by upholding imbalanced gender relationships and power dynamics. Feminist peace holds that peace cannot be obtained by allowing militarized types of powers, which nurture environments where women suffer violence at home or within the society, to continue to exist. By addressing the root causes of violence with a feminist lens and mobilizing for nonviolent action from local to global levels with a bottomup approach, we build action and momentum towards feminist peace. Feminist activists globally are organizing across our differences to build shared and fuller visions for our future. We have to look at feminism as part of every issue: the women’s movement knows social justice movements should not be viewed as silos; all these things are connected. By creating new models of work and care outside the state, outside of capitalism and outside of our boxes, we’re breaking down machineries of hate and greed. Feminist movements have profoundly impacted the world and we have just begun. Today our movements are global and so is our power. Tomorrow our strength, solidarity and feminist solutions will pave many paths toward a just and caring world for all.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Leen Al-Abed ’10 has been working as a Syria Associate at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) since 2018. WILPF focuses on analyzing and challenging the causes and consequences of patriarchy, militarization, and neoliberalism as the dominant order and providing feminist alternatives for peace. The league mobilizes for non-violent action and taking power back to influence decision-making. It rejects the implicit consent that governments and non-state actors have assumed about militarism, war and violence.
Wheelchair users participate in a wheelchair dance and movement workshop organized through the Kursi wa Kitab initiative.
At the Spring Dance Concert, 48 students perform a variety of dance genres including dabkeh, hip hop, contemporary, Circassian and Chinese folkloric dance.
Kingâ€™s students participate in the Dance and Sound Improv Fest, directed by Bella Stenvall and Ryuji Yamaguchi, at the House of Dreaming.
Head of School Peter Nilsson hosts the first night of the week-long 88 Keys Piano Festival. 62
Advanced Dance stud led by internationally choreographer Dai Jia
SEE THE MUSIC HE AR THE DANCE
Students perform in Secret Journey: Amman, a multimedia dance production directed by New York-based choreographer Yoshiko Chuma and Ryuji Yamaguchi.
The Beginning Guita Ensemble Concert get spirit.
dents participate in a workshop y renowned Chinese dancer and an.
The Gallery was packed during the Fall Solo and Chamber Music Recital.
King’s Academy presented a feast for the ears and eyes this year with a great number of outstanding musical and dance performances taking place both on and off campus. With the tutelage of music and dance faculty members in the Department of Arts, Technology and Design as well as a number of local and internationally renowned guest artists, students expanded their horizons and learned new skills to hone their craft. Here is just a sampling of the performances that took place.
ar, Orchestra, Choir and Arabic ts the audience into the holiday
Students in the beginning guitar and string orchestras perform during the Spring Showcase.
Fifty of King’s student dancers bring the stage to life at the annual Fall Dance Concert.
Duanduan Lin ‘20, Yiran Zhao ‘21 and Ziqi Yu ‘23 visit Wa’ad Youth Organization for a cultural exchange of Palestinian dabkeh and Chinese folkloric dance.
Beginner strings musicians perform at the Debut Ensemble Concert.
PREVENTI N Is the Best Medicine To make sure the school community remains healthy, Kingâ€™s Academy has been working to develop a school-wide climate of prevention that involves reducing risks and intervening on unhealthy behaviors. BY MUNA AL-ALUL
ubstance abuse prevention campaigns have come a long way since the days of “Just Say No.” One of the problems with that simplistic catchphrase, and the 80s and 90s campaign surrounding it, is that it prevented youth from receiving accurate information about dealing with drug use. More effective are the campaigns that recognize the power of education to protect youth. In 2019, and for the fourth consecutive year, King’s continued to take a holistic approach to substance use prevention by organizing a weeklong school-wide campaign led by three prevention specialists from the
global provider of school-based prevention services, Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD). Additional workshops were held for peer counselors, proctors and the Student Leadership Council (SLC), as well as for house heads, dorm parents, health center staff, faculty and parents. King’s also expanded the campaign beyond its own community to include a workshop for counselors from schools in Amman. FCD educates young people about the risks and realities of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use using an evidence-based social norms approach to help promote healthy student behavior and attitudes, to correct false beliefs, and to decrease the number of
students who use alcohol and other drugs. FCD focuses on education and early intervention as key elements towards effective prevention of addictive and unhealthy behaviors. According to King’s director of wellness and advising, Nada Dakhil, the school’s close-knit community, very clear health expectations, as well as a focus on preventative measures offer a huge protective factor for teenagers. That is good news for King’s, and Dakhil is confident that the knowledge imparted through this campaign will continue to ensure prevention and reduce risks to the community. One of the main reasons FCD’s approach is so impactful is that all of its prevention specialists are themselves in healthy recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions. They know what they are talking about, and that personal experience resonates with young people, says Dakhil. “I talk to kids about things that are relevant to teens: their social life, grades, things they are passionate about,” says prevention specialist Katie Greeley. “No one told me that the first thing addiction takes away are the things I loved about myself and the things I was passionate about. Maybe if I had that information, I would have made a different choice.” Addiction is the repetitive use of a substance despite negative consequences, explains prevention specialist George Brown. But what if there appears to be no negative consequences? That was how Brown’s story first started. “When I had my first drink, nothing happened,” he says. “When we think it’s harmless, it’s often the most harmful. It gave me an excuse to keep using. I was a bright, capable kid with an academic and basketball scholarship. I didn’t know how bad it was going to get; the consequences started later.” “I make the point with my story that you can have a lot going for you and still make a bad choice,” says Brown, who in his junior year lost his scholarship and was kicked out of school. “Much of what we talk about are statistics and facts; our stories put meat on the bones of that.”
Responding to kids when they ask why something is not allowed gives parents an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with their teens, says Greeley. In response to “why?”, parents can explain how the developing teen brain works and why younger people are more vulnerable to addiction. Some of the most common reasons behind young people making unhealthy choices are curiosity, stress, wanting to have fun, believing that everybody is doing it, and a lack of information. “The normative belief is that ‘everyone is doing it and I have to do it to fit in’, but that’s not true,” David explains. “That is why I wanted to do this [job]. I went through part of high school and college sober and in recovery. It’s really important to me to advocate that it’s not only possible but can be an enjoyable way to live life.”
King’s Student Leadership Council co-president Hannah Szeto ’20 agrees that the specialists’ personal experiences make a real difference in how students view the campaign. “The stories they tell, with little bits of statistical information sprinkled in, help students remember the campaign and the speaker’s advice, such as reaching out to friends.” “Especially in the few weeks after the campaign, I noticed more people reaching out to their friends with concerns about their behavior,” says Szeto. The FCD specialists also recognize that many parents do not know how to have conversations about these topics with their children. Many parents fall back on “because I said so” in response to being asked by their kids why they can’t do something. That only increases the child’s frustration, says Greeley, because they 66
lose the ability to advocate for themselves. “Because I said so” doesn’t offer any learning opportunities. They still do not know why they are not allowed. “A universal similarity I found among kids is that they are all craving these conversations, they’re all capable of having these conversations,” Greeley says. “If we don’t have them, they’re going to get the information from someone else. Then we are working overtime to correct the misinformation.” “I wish my parents had talked to me more,” adds Prevention Specialist Mary Davis. “Just to inform me and let me make those healthy decisions by default.” In addition to providing parents with knowledge, tips and tools to recognize risk factors, and ways of preventing unhealthy behavior, the specialists also provide advice on how to communicate with their children.
Addiction is the repetitive use of a substance despite negative consequences, explains prevention specialist George Brown. But what if there appear to be no negative consequences?
“The disease of addiction is a lot easier to prevent than to treat,” adds Greeley who is also a licensed clinical social worker and certified addictions counselor. “Working as a counselor is tough, people burn out. It’s not easy, but it makes me feel I made some sort of a difference. Even if it’s getting one kid to delay use that weekend, or to get them enough information about vaping where they make a choice not to pick up an e-cigarette, that’s enough of an impact to keep doing what we do.”
THE SPOKEN WORD
A new community service project is ensuring that schoolbooks are more accessible to students with visual and reading impairments BY MUNA AL-ALUL
his year, the school’s Community Service cocurricular introduced audio book recording to its range of activities. The idea to record audio books, suggested by Learning Center faculty member Tatyana Mansour, was born out of necessity. A number of students at King’s have visual impairments or trouble reading, which results in the need for audio rather than text books. However, several books in the curriculum are not available as audio books. “I was shocked that some people at King’s need that kind of help,” says Reema Zubaidi ’21 who worked on recording audio books over the course of two semesters. “But one of the best things about King’s is the community and how we help each other. I like the collaboration of us students working on it. Being part of that experience reminds
us that we should appreciate the resources we have but take for granted.” During the activity, groups of students — using simple recording tools such as mobile phones and microphones borrowed from the library — sit around a table and read the book aloud. To date, students have recorded Tanya Ronder’s adaptation of Shahid Nadeem’s play Dara, an English-language book studied in the 10th grade and the Arabic book Al Ragheef by Tawfiq Yousef Awwad. “It was fun sitting and recording Dara as if we are real actors of the theater,” says Donggyu Kim ’21. “I was happy that I could help people understand the story through my reading.” The students soon learned, however, that the process of creating the audio book was more challenging than it seemed. Learning as they went along, repetition was inevitable, and often multiple recordings of the same
sections by different students were made in order to give better options in terms of quality and cadence to Mansour, who would edit and compile the finished product. “I had to learn a lot to do this,” says Zubaidi. “First, my voice was too loud or too low, or too far from the mic. You need to read perfectly so you don’t confuse the listener. I repeated a lot. You can’t make any mistakes because you know someone is depending on us for this, so we want to give our best.” The experience of audio book recording made Ibrahim Al Aboosi ’20 realize how much of a deficiency there is in audio books, particularly in Arabic. “I hope in the future there is a whole co-curricular dedicated to audio book recording,” says Al Aboosi, “because we didn’t have much time to work on it, just one day a week. If we had more time, we could develop a database of audio books for anyone, especially Arabic speakers, to use.” SPRING 2020
ay S s er l o ho ir c e S h T dle o d t i M ye b n d a e o D Go d e v Belo hat f fection t
da orrow an for the coming s t a e r g ith us 3 nd, it is wo longer be with lty for the past 1 in e n a o t n g u e r is cominewell as she will f the King›s fac an important rol ily. a e y l o o h ember o 020 sc their fam s played dean far As the 2Middle School meh has been a m stitution. She ha erson as part of ofessionalism pr t in ah gp ur we bid o s. Reem Abu R illars of this greae such an inspirin ny smile and herr leadership has year. M he is one of the ps is proud to hav r her warm, sun e at King›s, he compassion and years. S nts’ lives. King› be remembered fo. During her timd by all. Her ith her guidance the stude em will always d staf f members been recognize n invaluable. W has worked to Ms. Re both students an r dedication hasommunity has bee dle School dean Reem creates a towards arkable, and he g of the school c of all. Our Midschool year, Ms. are outstanding. been rement to the wellbein tured the hearts day one of each munication skills s overcome their commitm om, she has cap all times. From udents. Her com and help student by both parents and wisdof her abilities at onment for the st e any problems, d is appreciated d its family, we the best welcoming envir isten and embrac at dif ference, an g›s Academy an working ef forts safe and lways ready to l has made a greon behalf of Kin n for your hardy. It is a great She is a s. Her presence Abu Rahmeh, e and appreciatio whole communit derful times and dif ficultieents. Ms. Reem r sincere gratitud dents and on the mory of the won ou, and we look and stud e to express ou impact on us stu rry a precious me uture ahead of y would likve had a great ts will always ca ve a wonderful f e best. e eplaceabl which ha t King›s studen hope that you ha wish you all th r ir e r a u yo honor thaat you led. We ain one day. We else, but e n o e h g m t a o s events to seeing you filled by e b l d il r w a my forw e Acade r Ms. Reem. h t in y c dea can e School Your va s. Farewell our l d id M the art ehalf of in our he b n o 5 n '2 l Hassa a r a m a L
S ’ G N I K Ms. Reem, what will you most miss about King’s?
• The beautiful campus, the sunsets and the loud ’birds. • The morning arrival of students yanking the Middle School into action. • The free plays, the lunches, the bake and bonds, the get-togethers,
the minimesters, the dorm meetings, the pancake hallway breakfasts, the dorm rituals, the orientation excitement, the Madaba Games, the faculty lip syncs, the student performances – basically all those small meaningful pockets of connections into our community. • The pace, intensity and creativity that articulated our daily work. • The mission of King’s as a place of change and opportunity in the Middle East. • Most of all, the people: the students, faculty, staff and parents that make King’s real every day. The Middle School team, the Murzim team, the OSL team, the leadership team, and everyone who has been a part of King’s.
Dr. Saleh Vallander Abdellatif ’11 Prescribes
Meditation HOW DID YOU ORIGINALLY GET INTO MEDITATION?
s a medical student in Sweden, Saleh Vallander Abdellatif ’11 turned to meditation to manage the stress of medical school. He ended up embarking on a path of self-discovery which has drastically altered his perception of the world and his approach to medicine. His recently-published book, 72 Meditations for People Who Don’t Have Time to Meditate (currently only available in Swedish) attempts to assist others in getting to know themselves better through meditation. Beyond King’s spoke with Abdellatif to learn more.
I was in my third year in my medical studies, and I was on the verge of mental collapse. It was too much packing in of information and not enough emotion or human element. It felt wrong, because as a doctor you’re supposed to develop your humanity so you can help other people. I decided to take a break and feel out what I want. I had been practicing meditation for some time, but this is when I began meditating full time. That was all I was doing, all I was thinking about: finding a way to get more in contact with myself, find more self-acceptance and more peace of mind. YOU HAVE JUST COMPLETED YOUR MEDICAL DEGREE AT A WESTERN INSTITUTION, BUT MEDITATION IS OFTEN CONSIDERED A PRACTICE OF EASTERN MEDICINE. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO APPROACHES? Western medicine approaches the body as if it’s a machine made up of different parts, which are the organs. It doesn’t really view the body as a holistic organism in which all the parts are deeply interconnected. Eastern medicine is more holistic. By healing the mind you’re healing the body, and that’s where meditation comes in. But then again, Western medicine is very important, all the scientific discoveries they’ve come up with are of course very valuable. What I would like to see is a combination of the two.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE MEDITATION? There’s a big misconception that meditation is about being able to sit for many hours without having a single thought. This is of course impossible — even advanced practitioners have trouble silencing their mind, so to start with that goal would be a recipe for failure. Meditation is a continuous process within you of getting to know yourself through observing and accepting. Whatever arises — any thought, emotion, sensation — you observe it, you see it for what it is and then you accept it. As long as that process continues, you can be considered as meditating. My book is designed for people who are curious about meditation but who don’t know where to start, what techniques to use and so on.
WHY IS MEDITATION IMPORTANT AND HOW DOES IT HELP YOU TO CONNECT WITH YOURSELF?
WHAT IS ONE MEDITATION READERS CAN DO RIGHT AFTER FINISHING THIS ARTICLE?
By observing your own thoughts, emotions and sensations, you’re able to understand your inner patterns and what’s going on within you. That gives you greater freedom in your life, because suddenly, you’re not run by these fleeting thoughts and sensations. You’re more in touch with your body and you can use your mind more intelligently. Meditation is very practical and functional in that way. But it’s also rewarding on the basic level of finding happiness, being truly at peace with who you are and what this life has to bring.
There’s this meditation called selfinquiry, through which you go around asking yourself, “who am I right now?” and you observe within you what kind of answers and feelings come up. For example, if I’m walking, I ask myself, “who is it that is walking right now?” You observe what kind of feelings and thoughts arise as spontaneous responses to that question; you’re not actively trying to think, but you’re allowing those responses to arise. The valuable thing about this technique is it can be practiced whatever you’re doing, parallel to your daily life.
FOR SOMEONE WHO’S JUST STARTING TO PRACTICE, SHOULD THEY AIM TO BE MEDITATING EVERY DAY FOR A SHORTER AMOUNT OF TIME, OR SHOULD THEY BE INVESTING IN FEWER PRACTICES PER WEEK, BUT LONGER ONES? Whatever you feel is good for you, you should do. There’s no one right way; even one or two minutes of selfawareness is valuable. Meditation is about changing your whole lifestyle; it’s about changing your whole way of viewing things in life, which is quite a radical shift. It’s a very gradual process, so it should start gradually.
Over the past year, alumni, current and former faculty and staff, prospective students and friends of King’s gathered in cities across the world to celebrate the connections made possible by the school.
Peter Nilsson, Sophia Vahanvaty ’19, Boyi Yao ’17
Boyi Yao ’17, Asser Madanat ’14, Omar Majali ’10, Talal Abu Gh Mohammad Al Jamal ’17, Tatyana Sheffield ’16, Marah Al Jubeh
Amal Zaid Al Kilani ’15, Leen Madanat ’15
Omar Almajali ’10, Aseel Alsoub ’10, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh ’10
Peter Nilsson, Omar Almajali ’10, Leen Madanat ’15, Aseel Alsoub ’10, Karim Ayyad ’12, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh ’10, Tamim Halawani ’13
Marah Al Jubeh ’13, Asser Madanat ’14
Left to right: Boyi Yao ’17, Suhaib Mohaidat ’11, Marah Al Jubeh ’13, Azzam Fakhoury ’12, Tala Hammash ’10, Amal Kilani ’15, Leen Madanat ’15 Farrah Matalka ’11, Omar Almajali ’10, Aseel Alsoub ’10, Peter Nilsson, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh ’10, Karim Ayyad ’12, Tamim Halawani ’13, Sereen Ashqar ’12, Aliaa Ibrahim ’12, Ghalia Loutfi, Mohammad Al Jamal ’17
hazaleh ’11, h ’13, Peter Nilsson
Marah Al Jubeh ’13, Sophia Vahanvaty ’19, Boyi Yao ’17
Bridghid Sheffield and Julian Sheffield
Dr. Eric Widmer, Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Farouq Abdelmoneim ’16, Peter Nilsson, Tarek El Mehelmy ’16
Meredith O’Hare, John Wolff
Hazar Ghaith ’19, Ibrahim AlMuasher ’19
Tarek El Mehelmy ’16, Kareem Khalaf ’16, Hamid Al-Derhali ’16, Farouq Abdel Al Arab ’16, Omar Sindi ’17
Dr. Meera Viswanathan, Robert Bahou ’11, James Lee ’10
Anais Amer ’18, Khaled Hamshari ’18
Omar Halawa ’12, Noor Eddin Amer ’12, Barbara Stowe, Mia DeSimone
Omar Sindi ’17, Leen Khouri ’18
Khaled Hamshari ’18, Laith Abduljawad ’18
lmoneim ’16, Imad Zahr, Leyth Nour Al Twal ’17
Waliullah Hairan ’15, Rawi AlTawil ’12, Abdelaziz Bawab ’13, Robert Said ’19
Fawaz Hourani ’10, Rawi AlTawil ’12
Talal Said ’19, Johanna Lee ’13, Carmen Zapata ’18, Selina Almasarwah ’19
BEYOND KING’S Hamza Alsarhan ’13, Ali Shajrawi ’11
Mona Sami, Laila Hzaineh ’16
Abigail Smith ’17, Dina Kuttab ’17
Amr Al Mghawish ’17, Joan Puente
April Lin ’19, Selina Almasarwah ’19
Left to right: Othman Abu Samra ’13, Rami Rustom ’13, Talal Said ’19, Waliullah Hairan ’15, Johanna Lee ’13, Rami AlTawil ’12, Abdelaziz Bawab ’13, Carmen Zapata ’18, Ala Haddad ’13, Peter Nilsson, Robert Said ’19, Laila Hzaineh ’16, Ali Shajrawi ’11, Sama Sarraj ’16, Rami Hamati ’15, Abigail Smith ’17, Dina Kuttab ’17, April Lin ’19, Hamza Alsarshan ’13, Selina Almasarwah ’19, Saif Abu Hashish ’13
Laura Kokotailo, Abigail Smith ’17, Dina Kuttab ’17
Abdelaziz Bawab ’13, Saif Abu Hashish ’13
Omar AlSaggaf ’16, Nouf Hijazi ’16, Farah Al-Hanandeh ’18, Dalia Abu Hassan ’16, Richard Girling and Hania Al Muhaisen
Abdullah Ghosheh ’16
Hasan Al-Qaisi ’18, HE Omar Nahar, HE Nassar Al-Qaisi
HE Omar Nahar, HE Dr. Mosleh Tarawneh, HE Dr. Tayseer Al Nuaimi, Peter Nilsson
Shamil Kassay ’19, Mousa Abu Ghosh ’18, Fadi Rafati ’18, Hasa
Zeena Hanandeh ’19, Zahra Najjar ’19
Burhan Aldroubi ’11
Yazeed Al Saud ’19, Saif Al Faqih ’19, Maad Alsaadi ’19, Zeena Hanandeh ’19, Zahra Najjar ’19, Tamara Hiyari, Azd Abuhassan ’19
an Al-Qaisi ’18
HE Nassar Al-Qaisi and HE Mazen Darwazeh
Shamil Kassay ’19, Sayf Abdeen ’19
Left to right: Khalid Bin Mahfouz ’18, Abdulgabbar Thabet ’18, Abdullah Ghosheh ’16, John Leistler, Farah Al-Hanandeh ’18, Omar AlSaggaf ’16, Nouf Hijazi ’16, Saleh Baothman, Ahmed Binmahfouz ’17, Burhan Aldroubi ’11, Tala Durra ’18, Hasan Al-Qaisi ’18, Mousa Abu Ghosh ’18, Deema Alrumayyan ’18, Zeena Hanandeh ’19, Caecilia Dance, Zahra Najjar ’19, Mona Sami, Adam Kydd, Fadi Rafati ’18, Tamara Hiyari, Maad Alsaadi ’19, Sayf Abdeen ’19, Selena Kishek ’18, Yazeed Al Saud ’19, Farah Suleiman Al-Hadeed ’16, Saif Al Faqih ’19, Dalia Abu Hassan ’16, Shamil Kassay ’19, Farah Mihyar ’16, Peter Nilsson, Azd Abuhassan ’19
Saif Al Faqih ’19, Farah Suleiman Al-Hadeed ’16, Farah Mihyar ’16
Hachem Alabed ’11, John Leistler, Leen Alabed ’10
All Around the World
ast summer, nine King’s students spent their summer holiday exploring some of the most far-flung corners of the world in search of adventure, new cultural experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Thanks to the King’s Academy Round Square Office’s summer exchange program, Sihan Shen ’20 travelled to Colombia on exchange — the first King’s student to do so — while Banah Khamis ’20, Leen Al-Faoury ’20, Ali Al-Darwish ’20, Rashed Al-Fayez ’21 and Salam Karadsheh ’20 visited South Africa, and Laila Habayeb ’20 and Ahmad Al-Daoud ’20 journeyed to Australia. Meanwhile, Tala Hawamdeh ’20 travelled to Morocco to participate in The Big Build, an annual Round Square International Service Project. Salam Karadsheh ’20 South Africa Salam Karadsheh ’20 went on exchange to Limpopo Province, South Africa where he was hosted by Herman Fourie while attending Stanford Lake College. Fourie has a passion for mountain biking, which inspired Karadsheh to participate in his first 12km race — a feat he described as a “physically draining challenge.” During his exchange, Karadsheh stayed overnight at a wildlife reserve where he went on safari, indulged in local exotic cuisine, and immersed himself in South African culture. “The month I spent in South Africa was among the most memorable times in my entire life,” says Karadsheh. Leen Al Faoury ’20 South Africa Leen Al Faoury ’20 went to Johannesburg, South Africa for her exchange trip where she attended Roedean School. Despite her initial 80
he ys t e sa new h s re me, xplo n st ti r i f nd e ape Tow e a h t e c r C n o f e by d d lone indepen vince an amazed a r a f ost y as pro d w ple. “I m o g so urture m th West n n a i l l p peo trave er to “n the Nor e wh e tri g th ess of its perienc out h n d b i e r a d t i u e x d n is e w ndlin this datio nce allo f.” She v nesburg e frie hrough l trepi h n e e t i a s r h y e d t exp ade of m to Jo ty an sides addition ry’s beau iends I m h.” r t in ount the f ntact wi the c reciate o c n i app still I am
Ali Al Darwish ’20 South Africa Ali Al Darwish ’20 attended St Stithians College during his five-week exchange to Johannesburg, South Africa. “Experiencing another culture is the best part of going on exchange,” says Al Darwish, who was hosted by a family of Indian origin during his stay and enjoyed learning about Indian culture at the same time. “An important part of the exchange was the school,” says Al Darwish. “From the first day, the students and teachers embraced me as part of their community.”
hich e, w io g n a exch g Coleg eek w din as e v atten e trip w s fi i s h k r e fo 0 we f th nal er o henome en ’2 mbia rst three d h o l S n i o n i ema says st p ta, C Siha bia the f the r f the mo Bogo ending hip,” the , s l m o n o o t l o o i o d p h t Co y sc velle .” After s One l Champ ity a d da ences. “ 0 tra l mun g e a 2 n ’ s m i b t a o z n a e Foo ta-b peri the c “am n Sh Bogo ltural ex merican s as rt of Siha e a a b p , i r o u e A esc ian uth nd c nd b he d Colomb ing a g the So ootball a e e s o t l f sigh for Ang tchin with s wa r passion a d e w l l i i f es he rienc see t expe I got to .“ Shen me.” ti same
Ahmad Al Daoud ’20 Australia Ahmad Al Daoud ’20 spent five weeks on exchange in Alice Springs, Australia where he attended St. Philip’s College and was hosted by Archie Donohoe’s family, who he says made him feel “like one of their own.” During the trip, he had the opportunity to visit Melbourne, Ayers Rock and go camping. “Going on exchange is the best,” says Al Daoud. “It’s a necessary experience.” SPRING 2020
Kursi wa Kitab
King’s Disability Advocates BY MUNA AL-ALUL
Faculty member Rana Matar and Fajer Saraireh ’22 meet Essl Foundation and Zero Project founder Martin Essl who is sporting a King’s Academy tie
t was a busy winter for Kursi wa Kitab. Literally translated as “chair and book,” the innovative Round Square community service initiative founded by King’s Academy aims to raise awareness about the needs of children with cerebral palsy in Jordan. While usually concentrating its efforts at the local level, this winter Kursi wa Kitab took an international approach. In January, Kursi was Kitab introduced a groundbreaking educational program called Conductive Education (see sidebar) to Jordan when it invited specialists from Hungary to conduct a three-week course designed specifically for children with neurological and mobility impairments. Then in February, Fajer Saraireh ’22 and faculty member Rana Matar attended the Zero Project Conference in Vienna where they introduced the Kursi wa Kitab program to over 600 international participants working in the field of disability.
Kursi wa Kitab presents at the Zero Project Conference The Zero Project, an Essl Foundation initiative, focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It provides a platform to share the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face. The theme of this year’s conference, which brought together over 600 delegates from more than 60 countries, was education. Around 75 innovative practices were presented by experts in the disability field. Fajer Saraireh ’22 and faculty member Rana Matar were invited to present on Kursi wa Kitab. For the first time, the conference organized a parallel youth forum bringing together young leaders, youth organizers and inclusive schools to discuss best practices and share concepts, experiences and tools that have worked to increase inclusive education. As one of only 12 youths invited to participate in the forum as a panelist, Saraireh spoke about her role as an advocate for children with disabilities in Jordan and about an initiative she established two years ago through Kursi wa Kitab. Saraireh invited persons with disabilities to King’s where student volunteers teach them to use reading, writing and art to express their feelings. “The people that I teach come from backgrounds where they aren’t given a lot of opportunities,” says Saraireh. “At the Zero Project Conference I was representing their voices, so since I got back, I feel even more of a responsibility to help persons with disabilities integrate into society.” “In Jordan, children with disabilities face a lot of challenges,” explains Saraireh. “For example, they aren’t allowed to go to school after they turn 16 because most schools can’t afford to make their premises accessible. At the conference, I heard from so many people with amazing projects in their own countries, it motivated me. Our community doesn’t have enough awareness about disabilities; we have to change that.”
Specialists from the Moira Conductive Education Center pose with staff from the Queen Rania Al Abdullah Hospital for Children and Rana Matar from King’s Academy
Conductive Education Comes to Jordan Conductive education (CE) is a comprehensive method of learning by which individuals with neurological and mobility impairment, such as cerebral palsy (CP), learn to specifically and consciously perform actions that children without such an impairment learn through normal life experiences. King’s Academy introduced the ground-breaking CE program to Jordan when, through the school’s Kursi wa Kitab initiative, it invited specialists from the Budapest-based Moira Conductive Education Center to conduct a three-week course at the Queen Rania Al Abdullah Hospital for Children. “Kursi wa Kitab works at the country level, discovering programs helpful to children with disabilities, and at the school level, teaching King’s students about the importance of becoming a more inclusive community,” said faculty member Rana Matar, who established Kursi wa Kitab. Building on a pilot training program in 2014, King’s invited CE specialists from the Moira Center to Jordan to provide a second intensive CE program for children with CP. Founded in 1987 by Agnes Borbély, the Moira Center runs conductive educational programs around the world for children and adults with physical disabilities, and for the training of professionals. King’s had donated all the equipment from the 2014 program to the Queen Rania Hospital for Children, which was therefore well-equipped to host the next program.
The program began with an information session held at King’s. Next, Moira’s CE specialists Aliz Petri and Kornélia Szilvàsiné Balla conducted an initial assessment of the 20 children before dividing them into three groups: parents and children, kindergarten-aged children and school-aged children. The specialists worked with each group daily, assisted by the hospital’s physiotherapists who were introduced to conductive educational methods through the hands-on practical training enabling them to incorporate elements of it into their work. “With conductive education we work with and look at the whole child,” said Petri. “In cases of cerebral palsy the brain is affected, so among other things movement is also affected. We work on exercises for movement, cognition, speech, fine manipulation, vision — everything is included.” With only three weeks to conduct the intensive program — in Hungary, CE is built into the national educational system — the specialists nonetheless noted big improvements in the children by the end of the three weeks. “We are teaching kids to be independent — everything from getting out of bed, brushing teeth, getting from A to B,” said Szilvàsiné Balla. “The most important part of the program was to give parents, and the physiotherapists, the knowledge so that after we leave, they can keep practicing and the children continue to improve.”
A Life of
SERVICE Maria Camila Garzon-Ruiz ’12 Forges a Career in Protection
BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
aria Camila GarzonRuiz ’12 has worked towards assisting those in situations of great vulnerability. A descendant of refugees who fled Lebanon due to religious persecution, Garzon-Ruiz grew up in Colombia, a country that up until 2018 held the highest number of internally displaced people globally (6 million) resulting from over six decades of violent conflict. “I grew up seeing many of my own countrymen displaced, begging for food and having nowhere to go,” she says. “This was something that troubled me a lot.” When she moved to the Middle East in 2004 — first to Saudi Arabia, then Bahrain and finally Jordan — she noticed there were many people at risk of gender-based violence, sexual and labor exploitation exactly like her compatriots back in Colombia, except here they were largely immigrants. By the time Syria overtook Colombia as the country with the greatest internallydisplaced population (7.6 million), Garzon-Ruiz had left Jordan to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in international studies at Texas A&M University.
Maria Camila Garzon-Ruiz (left) in Chicago, 2018
Immediately following her graduation, she enrolled in a Master’s program in human rights and humanitarian action at L’institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). Living in Paris from 2015 to 2017, Garzon-Ruiz witnessed the height of the European migrant crisis as the number of Syrian asylum-seekers continually increased. While she volunteered with student organizations providing assistance to refugees, she longed to be back in the Middle East, working on the ground to effect change directly. “My utmost frustration was and is to be away from the region during a time of great suffering,” she says. Garzon-Ruiz currently works at Heartland Alliance International (HAI), an international nonprofit organization based in Chicago. HAI implements access to justice programs, which Garzon-Ruiz defines as providing protection and support to anyone who has suffered persecution and/or a violation to their human rights, with particular focus on individuals in the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. In her role as a senior program officer, Garzon-Ruiz focuses her efforts on understanding patterns of humanitarian need and determining gaps in service delivery for all HAI focus regions. Her job consists of identifying funding mechanisms,
critically engaging in the design process and leading her team to develop humanitarian assistance projects, ensuring that capacity building of local communities is at the heart of designs.
School is a place where we learn and refine what it means to be a member of a society and what our civic duties look like.
“The idea is to have a transfer of knowledge and to build the capacity of local organizations,” she explains. “This way, when you leave, other people are already set up to continue the delivery of services.” To further ensure the longevity of humanitarian assistance, Garzon-Ruiz sees community service at schools as key to molding future generations of humanitarian workers and informed global citizens. “School is a place where we learn and refine what it means to be a member of a society and what our civic duties look like,” she says. “Community service can allow you to interact with a population that you usually don’t
interact with. You then have your eyes wide open to the reality of this individual’s life, and then can come back and can speak to your experience.” While high schoolers may not have developed the professional and technical skills to provide highlevel support, there are plenty of ways for interested students to get involved, as organizations are always in need of more manpower and work directly for and with the community. She encourages students to identify trustworthy organizations working in service areas they are interested in and reach out to offer their help in whatever capacity is needed. One particular area where GarzonRuiz sees high schoolers as having great potential impact is in addressing tensions between the beneficiaries of humanitarian services and host community members, who may often feel that their needs are being neglected in order to prioritize those of an other. “This can cause resentment, xenophobia, and other tensions to build up,” Garzon-Ruiz says. “One way high schoolers can mitigate this is by communicating with both groups, by facilitating spaces where they can all interact together. It could even be sports, arts, music — just something that reminds individuals that they have more things in common than differences.”
Alumni, share your stories! Are you researching a cause you’re passionate about? Have you started a new club at your university? Has your job changed the way you look at the world?
…We want to hear from you! Share your updates for the class notes section at the back of the magazine by completing the online form or email us a more detailed update to be featured in the magazine. Remember to update your permanent mailing address using the online form to ensure you receive your printed copy of Beyond King’s.
AN AMBASSADOR OF TWO PLACES On her first visit to King’s Academy since graduation, Lena Hmoud ’19 found herself wearing two hats: King’s alumna and ambassador to her new university. BY MUNA AL-ALUL
semester into her studies at Northwestern University in Qatar (NUQ), Lena Hmoud ’19 is already making the most of every opportunity. She couldn’t stay away from King’s Academy for long though. During the fall break, she was back, not only to catch up with old friends, but to represent NU-Q at the King’s university fair. Hmoud is currently working as an admissions diplomat for the university’s admissions department, a position she was offered her first week at NUQ. Students usually have to apply to university jobs, but for the diplomat position, the department approaches a select few. As a diplomat, Hmoud helps promote the university by providing prospective students and their families with a first-hand student perspective. She has already applied and been accepted for another job as a research assistant. In her second semester, she will do both jobs part-time. Next year, Hmoud will declare her major: journalism with a minor in politics and media, and a certificate in strategic communications. In her first semester of university, Hmoud has been busy with both academic work as well as making friends and getting to know her new home. She joined the Brazilian Club to learn more about Latin culture, and became vice president of the Best Buddies club, which organizes fun activities for children with autism. 86
“My experience at King’s doing different community and services activities such as Jordan Model Parliament, Reclaim Childhood, and proctor meetings where we learned how to deal with different people and various issues, made the transition to NU-Q easier,” says Hmoud. On the academic front, Hmoud enjoyed creating a simulation of a real news agency as part of a journalism course project that involved engaging with people on the streets of Doha and fishing for stories. She was also excited to be interviewed about her experience as a student in Qatar for an Al Jazeera report about Qatar Foundation and the universities at Education City. “I’m still getting introduced to everything at NU-Q,” says Hmoud, “but so far my experience has been pretty positive. The resources and equipment are state-of-the-art, the kind you find at huge networks like Al Jazeera and the BBC. The opportunities you’re provided with, like internships, international travel and language and research grants, are great.” NU-Q is one of six branch campuses of leading international universities
At King’s, I experienced how exciting it is to be in a place that’s constantly changing and gives you the opportunity to play a part in that change.
and other educational and research institutes housed by Education City, which is an initiative established by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The “city” provides access to high quality, Western education in a Middle Eastern setting. As a small community with around 400 students, NU-Q is “very homey, you can talk to your professors one-on-one. It’s very similar to King’s,” according to Hmoud. Hmoud was interested to note many similarities between King’s Academy in Jordan and Qatar. “At King’s, I
experienced how exciting it is to be in a place that’s constantly changing and gives you the opportunity to play a part in that change,” she says. “Qatar is similar to Jordan in that it has the Arab culture, that familiarity, and the balance between conservatism and modernity. Qatar in general is booming, it has witnessed a huge transformation in the last 10 years. I’d like to be a part of that, a country that is striving to be better.” By representing her new university at her old school, Hmoud feels like she found the perfect way to link the two. As enthusiastic as Hmoud is about NU-Q and Qatar, it is hard to believe that choosing where to go for university was one of the most difficult decisions she has ever had to make. Hmoud had received the offer of a full scholarship to study international relations at an American university, as well as a merit scholarship to NU-Q. After much soulsearching, she finally chose NU-Q as she felt drawn to its journalism major. “So far, I’m really happy with the decisions I’ve made. Now I’m both a King’s lion, and a NU-Q wildcat! You could call me an ambassador for both places!” laughs Hmoud.
Lena Hmoud ’19, represents NU-Q at a King's Academy university fair
Mumen Alzubi ’12
TAKES OFF BY JOHANNA LEE ’13
or as long as he can remember, Mumen Alzubi ’12 has wanted to fly. The high cost for lessons — around $200 per hour — as well as having protective parents who were “very afraid of even elevators” kept him from pursuing his passion until a paid internship at General Electric afforded him the chance to take a training flight at a nearby gliding association. He decided not to tell his parents to prevent them from worrying. “After my first training flight, I was hooked and addicted,” he says. “I spent all my weekends at the airfield, from 7 am to 8 pm.” Alzubi completed his glider training and solo flight in near-record time, 88
building up the necessary experience over two months of flying on the weekends while working full time. On his first solo flight, he took a video of himself flying the glider alone and sent it to his parents. “I got a very angry phone call from my mom!” he laughs. While his parents were worried about his hobby at first, they’ve come to be Alzubi’s biggest supporters. After graduating from King’s in 2012, Alzubi enrolled in a dual degree engineering program between Skidmore College, where he studied physics, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where he studied industrial and management engineering. RPI awarded Alzubi a scholarship to continue his studies
with a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering and Technology Management. Throughout his studies, Alzubi’s aeronautical aspirations were temporarily put aside. “When you’re in high school, the only thing you can really think about is getting into a good college,” he says. “Then when you’re in college the only thing you can think about is maybe getting into a good grad school or getting a good job. Then you get that good job, and you’re like, ‘What’s next?’” For Alzubi, flying was the clear answer. Not long after his first solo flight, he took the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) flight exam to become
allowing him to bring passengers to the skies. He was also nominated by his local flying club for a flight instructor certification scholarship, which he won and is currently completing. He hopes to one day offer pro bono flight instruction to young aspiring fliers. But civil aviation globally is facing a lack of interested youth. “Most of aviation is dominated by older men,” says Alzubi. “I’m the youngest licensed pilot at the airport I fly at — I fly with guys who are 75, 78 years old. So my close friends, the people I spend all my free time with, are older than my grandparents.” Alzubi’s preferred method of flight is by glider, which is a lightweight, fiberglass airplane without an engine. Like birds, gliders navigate the skies via thermal lift: rising columns of warm air and sinking columns of cool air.
After my first training flight, I was hooked and addicted. I spent all my weekends at the airfield, from 7 am to 8 pm.
“Gliding isn’t like flying a power airplane, where you have an engine, you have your fuel, you go and come as you please,” he says. “I call that driving a bus in comparison with gliding, because gliding really requires a lot of attention and planning.” Despite being such an important part of his life, for Alzubi flying is currently a pastime rather than career. “This is all just a hobby,” he says. “I still work 8 to 5, Monday through Friday just like everyone else.” Ultimately, Alzubi hopes for a career in aviation design and manufacturing, specifically as a technical engineer for precision manufacturing and tool design. However, he remains open to changing winds and possibilities. While Alzubi isn’t sure where exactly his future will take him, he knows there is only one direction: up. SPRING 2020
SCHOOL NEWS in brief A COMMUNITY OF YOUNG MUSICIANS PARTICIPATE IN JYMC King’s hosted 89 students and seven faculty members from schools around Amman for the eighth Jordan’s Youth Musicians Conference (JYMC), an annual music festival that brings together young musicians between the ages of 10 and 22 to engage in the process of music making and performing. Students and teachers spent the weekend at King’s rehearsing their individual parts of a predetermined piece and learning to play as part of an ensemble, before concluding the conference with a dazzling performance.
KING’S CELEBRATES CHINESE AND KOREAN NEW YEAR Currently home to 53 students from Asian countries, including China, Korea, Japan and Indonesia, King’s annual Lunar New Year celebrations are eagerly awaited by the whole community. After decorating the dining hall with traditional red Chinese lanterns, students created over 200 hóng bão, small red envelopes traditionally filled with lucky money, while Duanduan Lin ’20 led a workshop to teach students the art of Chinese calligraphy. The community got together to make and partake of dumplings and other Asian dishes at a potluck dinner where students performed traditional Chinese folk and contemporary K-Pop dances, while Chinese language students performed a Chinese song that they learned in class.
YOUTH REVERSES THE CLIMATE WEEK AT KING’S To mark Youth Reverses the Climate Week, King’s students organized daily events for raising awareness about climate change risks and steps the school community can take to mitigate them. Organized by the Environment and Sustainability Club, the event was held in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike, which saw millions of student participants around the world take to the streets to demand action.
FCD CAMPAIGN PRIORITIZES EDUCATION AND PREVENTION King’s held a substance use prevention campaign for the fourth consecutive year in cooperation with Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), a leading provider of school-based prevention services, to provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to make intelligent, healthy choices. The school-wide campaign reached all students from grades 7 to 12 and a parents’ session was hosted by board member and parent Sirine Abu Ghazaleh P ’20, ’23. According to FCD prevention specialists George Brown, Katie Greeley and Mary Davis, education and early intervention are key to effective prevention of addictive and unhealthy behaviors. They provided teachers and parents with knowledge, tips and tools to recognize risk factors, in addition to ways of preventing unhealthy behavior.
STUDENTS ORGANIZE SCHOOL’S FIRST CHARITY FESTIVAL, KING’S FEST Fanar Al Derzi ’21 and Ahmad Younis ’21 took the initiative of organizing King’s Fest, the school’s first charity festival, with the aim of raising funds for the renovation of a public school for underprivileged children. Hundreds of people attended and enjoyed sports and art activities, carnival games, musical performances by students and a bazaar.
KING’S HOLDS FIRST SHAKESPEARE MONOLOGUE COMPETITION In February, the Department of Arts, Technology and Design along with the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and the Literary Arts (CRLA) presented the school’s first Shakespeare Monologue Competition, during which some 29 Page to Stage and Scene Study students competed against each other to demonstrate their precise wielding of language, clever manipulation of rhetoric and the energetic art of oration. Congratulations to the winners, who orated monologues from Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet: 1st Place: Kleobetra Al-Zoubi ’20, 2nd Place: Oday Fraij ’22, 3rd Place: Yiran Zhao ’21, May Alzaben ’20, Jouna Hasan ’21.
CLASS NOTES BASHAR JARRAR Balancing work and studies, Bashar is a coteam lead on full stack development at GCIT in Washington, D.C. He is concurrently pursuing a dual master of business administration and master in IT at Virginia Tech.
2010 MAJD AFAGHANI Majd lives in Gainesville, Florida and works in research at the De Lartigue Lab at the University of Florida. His research focuses on the gut-brain axis. DANA ALASKER After graduating from Clark University with a double major in history and economics, Dana went on to earn a master in conflict and war studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dana lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a philanthropy program officer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ZOUHEIR AL GHREIWATI Zouheir launched an educational company aimed at introducing a new subject, called regeneration, into grade schools around the world. Regeneration is founded upon the 17 themes related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and all learning material is activity-based to accommodate an inclusive learning experience. Zouheir’s company has entered a contract with the Colombian government to begin testing the curriculum in September, with the aim of formally launching regeneration in schools in January. DANA AL-JAWAMIS Dana works at the Royal Hashemite Court in Amman. There, she works on development projects focused on revenue generation and employment objectives. SALLY BISHARAT After a little over four years working in marketing at the Marriott Hotels in Jordan, Sally decided to shift to a humanitarian career. She is now the communications specialist at Generations for Peace, a global nonprofit peace-building organization that empowers young leaders to promote tolerance and responsible citizenship in communities experiencing different forms of conflict and violence.
Sally Bisharat ’10
Moutasem Bitar ’10's work with SMA was featured in the Middle East Solar Industry Association’s January 2020 magazine.
FAISAL KAWAR Faisal lives in New York City, where he works as a venture capital investor focusing on fintech startups across the world, including emerging markets. He recently obtained his MBA from Harvard Business School. Faisal enjoys meeting up with King’s alumni in New York.
MOUTASEM BITAR Moutasem works in the renewable energy sector, as the Middle East and Africa sales and marketing director for SMA Solar Technology AG. In this role, he runs the German company’s two offices in Cape Town and Dubai. He encourages any alumni interested in working in renewables to get in touch with him.
GHASSAN GAMMOH I can’t believe I just finished my sixth year of teaching at King’s Academy! It’s been such an incredible and unforgettable journey. I also obtained my master’s degree in private school leadership from Columbia University in May 2019 and I completed my teaching certification through TEACHNOW Graduate School of Education in April 2020. I have relished the opportunity to develop new curricula for various history courses at King’s and I am excited for what the future holds! I have also loved seeing King’s alumni at different events, both real and virtual, throughout this past year. May we continue to grow closer and closer as a community in the years to come!
HASHEM HADID Hashem lives in Sweden, where he works within the financial arm of the Volvo Group. FAWAZ HOURANI Since graduating from Stanford University in 2014 with a bachelor’s in management science and engineering, Fawaz has lived in New York City. He started work in finance on Wall Street, then shifted to tech operations. Since 2017, Fawaz has been working in the blockchain and crypto space, establishing an advisory business with an investment arm. Fawaz says he’d love to reconnect with King’s alumni visiting the city.
James Lee ’10 and Johanna Lee ’13 JAMES “NICK” LEE Nick worked for three years in research at the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine. His work there focused on determining host-pathogen interactions in Streptococcus pneumoniae. He also worked on a project, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed at developing alternative treatment methods for a strain of E. coli infection. His thesis and continued work at the Leong Lab explores a possible new treatment for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease for which no known cure yet exists. Beginning in the fall, Nick will be attending Tufts University School of Medicine as a medical student. HAMZA ZAIDAN Hamza has been an associate at Morgan Stanley in New York City for around a year. He works in the Global Capital Markets division as part of a team that invests the bank’s own money into renewable energy projects.
2011 MUHANNAD ABDEEN Muhannad moved to Bermuda in late 2019 to join Ernst & Young as a senior member in their Audit and Assurance Department. He recently passed his Certified Public Accountant exam and is in the process of obtaining his CPA license. SALEH ABDELLATIF After completing his medical degree in Sweden and writing a book on meditation, Saleh is taking a much-needed break by travelling the world. Read more about his book in “Dr. Saleh Vallander Abdellatif ’11 Prescribes Meditation,” (p. 70). RANA ABU LABAN Rana is an IB educator with five years’ experience as an Individuals & Societies teacher. She is currently completing an MA in international education and IB Advanced Certificate in teaching and learning research. Her dissertation explores the concept of differentiation in the IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP). She will start teaching business and economics at the International Academy Amman (IAA) in August, 2020. BURHAN ALDROUBI Burhan is a senior capital consultant at AxiomSL, a fintech firm specialized in risk and regulatory reporting. Outside of work, Burhan has found a home away from home in London, and he enjoys spending time with his adorable nephews. OMAR AMARA After graduating from medical school, Omar worked for a bit in Jordan before moving to Germany. He is currently completing a handson internship in vascular surgery, and plans to stay in Germany for his residency in surgery. MALIK AL JABORI Malik is a partner at Al-Dohan and Associates Law Firm, and also serves as a legal adviser for Arab Airports Engineering Company, AlIraqia Central Company for Oil and Gas, Al Shitaa Company and the Iraqi Secretariat of the Council of Ministers. He established a legal and partnerships consultancy company in the UK with a renowned international lawyer who is a Queen’s Counsel member (QC). Malik was invited by the UNDP to serve as a panelist in an anti-corruption and transparency conference. He also worked alongside the Secretary General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Planning and the economic advisor of the Iraqi Prime Minister to draft the guidance of the Public Private Partnership Law in Iraq. Malik prepared the draft of the guidance, which was voted into law.
Malik Al Jabori ’11 (right) during the Iraqi Ministry of Health Seminar on enhancing private sector investment RASHED AL QUDAH Since graduating from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 2017, Rashed has been working in management consulting in New York City. He still enjoys playing soccer! ISMAIL AL TAMIMI Since 2016, Ismail has been working as a structural engineer with AECOM Canada, where he specializes in the structural design and analysis of bridges. Over the past year, he has been working on the Cordie Howe International Bridge over the Detroit River — the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America.
ROBERT “ROB” BAHOU After a couple of years of photographing dogs and cats and publishing my first book, Animal Soul, I decided I was looking for more of a challenge. Then, King’s came knocking saying they wanted me to make a video that would excite prospective students. I don’t think they anticipated what they were getting into. In March of 2016, we made "This Could be YOUR School Too!" and shortly after we were invited by The Enrollment Management Association to present our work at their annual conference in New Orleans. Omer Khalayleh and I presented together to a totally packed audience, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
I am now a co-owner of The Film Guys, a production company specializing in doing out-of-the-box videos for independent schools. We’re based in Amsterdam but the work is all on the road. Our next few projects are in California, Toowoomba (Australia), New Jersey, Europe (all over), Virginia and Massachusetts, to name a few. We do what I like to call “Wild West Filmmaking.” We show up to a school with no plan whatsoever. Everyone thinks it’s crazy (which it totally is, but I attended King’s Academy so nothing surprises me). After two weeks on campus, we will have written a fully original script, cast the roles, planned the production and filmed the whole thing. In some cases, we even include writing and recording a song within this two-week period. Our clients give us near complete creative freedom and it’s safe to say that this shows in our work. The work is intense in its demands and its rewards, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. No matter how you spin it, it’s clear that everything I am doing now started because of my relationship with King’s. Nine years ago, standing next to Suhayb Jawhari for our senior video, I said that I honestly thought I would be making movies 10 years from now. It’s a humbling thought.
Rob Bahou ’11 and Ahmed Khalayleh ’15 with former King’s English teacher Philip Carr-Harris
TALA BARAKAT Since graduating from college, Tala has been living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She started off her career recruiting for IT professionals, then transitioned to corporate recruiting for Citrix’s engineering and product departments. As of January 2020, she took on a traveling role as a business analyst for Enlighten Operational Excellence, a management consulting firm. YUSRA BITAR After working in development research and policy consulting across the MENA region, Yusra decided to return to school. She is currently completing her Master of Science in environmental policy and sustainable management at the New School in New York City. She says: “Our region is particularly prone to the worst impacts of the changing climate, and I see my role as an active part of its transition away from the fossil fuel economy and towards sustainable practice in line with earth system laws. Reach out if you’re ever in New York!” KARIM HABBAB During the past year, Karim has been working with the housing authority in Charlottesville, Virginia, facilitating a residentled redevelopment process. The goal of this process is to challenge underlying power structures and empower residents to be agents of their own change.
LEEN HAJJAR This past year, I have been completing my master’s degree in communication at Villanova University and I will graduate in May. During my time at Villanova, I’ve been working with one of my graduate professors on creating a website titled, “Our Middle East” that creates a new narrative of the Middle East through positive stories. It aims to counter mainstream media’s negative portrayals of Arabs, their culture, and region and help improve people’s misperceptions about the Arab world. This website will hopefully break down negative stereotypes, positively change attitudes about Arabs, and bring people of different backgrounds closer together. I plan to officially launch the website this summer and I will be sure to share it with the King’s community. I also got married this past June and I currently live with my husband in Amman.
FARIS JAYOUSI Faris graduated from Georgetown University with a master’s in sports industry management. Two years ago, he became a certified National Basketball Association (NBA) agent and launched his own basketball representation
agency. Faris was recently offered a position in the sports division of Creative Artist Agency, a world-leading organization in sports and entertainment. He lives in New York City. HASHEM KHALIFEH Hashem recently completed a Master of Science in electrical engineering with a concentration in networking and communications at New York University. YASMIN LUKATAH Having returned to her hometown of Seattle, Washington, Yasmin is an assistant buyer for online e-commerce website Zulily. She doesn’t stay put though, and says she spends “a lot of time traveling and exploring the world around me!” JAMIL MADANAT Based in Montreal, Jamil works as a product engineer. As a side project, he is working with GreenForges, a startup, on designing a machine that integrates vertical farms in urban buildings. FARRAH MATALKA Farrah lives in Amman, where she works as a data analyst at PWC. She still manages her charity initiative, Giving Joy. KHALID MHEID Khalid lives in Saudi Arabia, where he works as a fund manager with AlBilad Capital. He works within the real estate investments division. IZZAT MUKATTASH Izzat lives in Denver, Colorado, where he works as a cost/project controls engineer at Turner Construction Company. In his role, he manages the budget and oversees the completion of 15 projects in Colorado and Utah, totaling $1.2B in revenue. KATRINA NEMRI Having recently completed her studies at McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas, Katrina is currently in her first year of training as a resident in emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. GHAITH ODEH Following his graduation from King’s, Ghaith studied political science at Newcastle University. He has worked substantially as a research assistant for several non-governmental organizations in Jordan, including the National Democratic Institute and UNICEF. After working as a paralegal at Safwa Islamic Bank for a little over a year, Ghaith decided to transition to a legal career and is currently in the process of completing his law degree at Middlesex University’s international campus in Dubai. There, he works as a researcher with the university’s faculty and contributes to peer-reviewed research in the area of public
international law. He will complete his degree in 2022. SEEMA SAMAWI Seema completed her Master of Science in systems engineering at George Washington University this January. When she is not working as a senior systems engineer in New Hampshire, she volunteers as a ski patroller at Crotched Mountain. She is recently engaged with plans to wed in July 2021 — congrats to the happy couple! RAWAN SARAIREH A qualified lawyer in both the UK and Jordan, Rawan is working at an international law firm in Jordan. She is currently based in the UK as she completes a secondment. ALI SHAJRAWI Ali still lives in New York City, where he worked for five years at a boutique investment bank in renewables finance. He recently moved to LS Power, a private equity firm, where his focus is renewable and carbon markets in the US. In his free time he plays the ney (flute) with local artists in the city. ABDULAZIZ SIRAJ For three years, Abdulaziz worked in the oil and gas industry as a well engineer with Schlumberger, first in Mexico for one year then for two in Abu Dhabi. There, his department was responsible for managing all the activities related to drilling. He then decided to move back to his hometown, Jeddah, where he joined Zahid Tractor, the sole dealer for Caterpillar machinery in KSA. His department supports clients with technical expertise, with Abdulaziz specializing in the mining sector. KARIM ZEINE Based in Toronto, Karim works as a software product manager at the OAN, an open-source nonprofit organization in the blockchain industry. The organization is oriented towards building better infrastructure for businesses and developers globally, while also launching a few consumer products focused on the gig economy. In his free time, Karim competes in a regional darts league. MAY ZUGHAYER May is in her third year as a field monitor with UNICEF’s Jordan country office. She works on planning, monitoring and evaluation. Next year she looks to begin a master’s in the humanitarian field.
2012 NOOR ABBAS Based in Qatar, Noor works as a social researcher in the Ministry of Administrative, Development, Labor and Social Affairs.
SHARIF ABDELRAZEQ In 2017, I joined the Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) in Kazakhstan. As we were building the tallest building in Central Asia, I was driven to explore the potential behind integrating sustainable thinking and entrepreneurship within the construction industry. The journey has been defined by multiple challenges that fueled my determination to explore further. I was recently appointed as the first sustainability and innovation engineer for Kazakhstan and the CIS region. Parallel to this role, I will be completing a high flyer program at the CCC’s HQ offices in Greece. Thankful for the international experiences I have been crafting, I cannot help but highlight my passion to take deep dives into exploring local communities and the unique cultures of different societies. This hunger to explore and eagerness to contribute led to my selection as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper serving currently as Nur-Sultan Hub’s first expat curator since the launch of the hub. I might have skipped some classes at King’s, but leading as a global citizen was deeply engraved — thanks to my teachers and advisors for their efforts!
HASHEM ASHOUR Hashem recently changed fields from engineering to data analytics. He lives and works in Amman as a data analyst for Tamatem. KAREEM AYYAD Based in the UAE, Kareem founded a company that built a brain operating system (BrainOS) that changes the way people interact with computers. The wearable technology enables users to type with their thoughts (known as voluntary telepathy) and produces brain analytics on a variety of factors including stress, focus, fatigue and emotions recognition. AYMAN BARGHASH Since graduating with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Jordan, Ayman has been working as a site engineer in Jordan. MARIA CAMILA GARZON-RUIZ After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2015 with a bachelor’s in international politics and diplomacy, Maria completed a master’s in human rights and humanitarian action at Sciences Po Paris. She is currently a senior program officer at a US-based INGO, where she specialized in the protection of vulnerable populations, particularly migrants, internallydisplaced persons, refugees, detained individuals, and survivors of gender-based violence and exploitation. For more, see “A Life of Service,” (p.84).
ZARIFA HAMIDI Zarifa has recently graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where her studies concentrate on international security and conflict resolution. She hopes to work in the field of peace-building. Prior to joining the Fletcher School, Zarifa worked as a resident researcher at the Kettering Foundation. HAZEM HASHEM After completing his master’s from LSE in 2017, Hazem joined the London office of FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. He moved to FTI’s Dubai office the following year, where he currently serves as a senior consultant in the Global Risk and Investigations Practice. He recently passed the rigorous CAMS exam, making him a certified anti-money laundering specialist. SHUROUQ HIJAZI A recent Toronto transplant, Shurouq works as a senior cybersecurity consultant at Deloitte. She says she would be happy to connect with other King’s alumni in the area and encourages them to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org. ALI JUNDI Ali co-founded Echolibrium Studios in Jabal Amman, which operated for two years. Currently, Ali works at Beyond Capital as an entrepreneur selection and growth associate.
ALI ABU KHADRA After graduating from American University of Beirut with a degree in management with accounting, Ali moved to London to work at a tech start-up. He recently returned to Amman and is pursuing a CFA in order to follow a finance-focused path. FAISAL AL TELL After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2016 with a bachelor’s in industrial and systems engineering, Faisal joined J.B. Hunt as a logistics engineer in the engineering rotational program. He still works at J.B. Hunt, currently as an operations research scientist. BARAA’ AL-WAHIDI Baraa’ recently obtained his master’s in software engineering, with his research focused on machine learning. Currently he is a team leader in a software development company, and is concurrently working on completing a PhD in software engineering. NOOR EDDIN AMER Recently promoted, Noor serves as a senior member of technical staff at Oracle in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2019, Noor was appointed as the first alumnus member of the Board of Trustees at King’s — read more in “From Border to Board Member,” (p. 32).
Maria Camila Garzon-Ruiz ’12 (center)
OMAR HALAWA Omar is currently pursuing his MD degree at Harvard Medical School. In “Bridging the Gap (Year),” (pg. 104) he describes other activities he has been up to since graduating from Columbia University in 2016 with a BA in neuroscience and behavior.
EMIL KORT After completing his bachelor’s in civil engineering and master’s in hydraulic engineering, Emil moved to Sri Lanka for a year. There, he worked for Veolia on building a water treatment and distribution network. He brought this experience back to Jordan and
Palestine, where he worked with local water authorities on several development projects. He recently launched a hardware tech startup with his brother (Kareem Kort ’14). HAMZEH NAGHAWI Hamzeh graduated from medical school in 2018 and is currently finishing a master’s in experimental surgery and surgical education at McGill University. He works as a clinical researcher at the McGill Minimally Invasive Surgery Lab. Hamzeh also serves as a regional president with the Mosaic Institute to create platforms for dialogue among diverse communities, resolve conflict and advance peace. HENRY REYNOLDS Henry is based in Dubai, where he works as a management consultant for Alvarez & Marsal. He focuses on restructuring and turnarounds for companies across the MENA region. In his free time, Henry enjoys scuba diving and bouldering. NADIA SAKKA Nadia is currently in the last few months of her master’s in clinical psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She is also doing an internship at a behavioral hospital. JUMANA SHA’BAN After graduating with a degree in international accounting, Jumana worked in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in derivatives trading. Currently, she is back in Amman working as a financial auditor at Ernst & Young. HANEEN TANTASH Haneen lives in Amman, where she has been working for two years at Ali Sharif Zu’bi Law Firm as a trainee associate in the Corporate/ Commercial Department. Concurrently, she is completing the Jordanian Bar Association requirements to qualify as a Jordanian lawyer.
NADINE ZAZA Nadine lives in Boston and works as a fellow at NuVu, an innovation school for middle and high school students based in Cambridge. Through her role, she advises schools and organizations in Turkey and Amman, including Ruwwad, how to implement design curricula and prepare design spaces for students. In her free time, she continues to produce art, and her print series “Amman ya Amman” was featured at the 2019 Amman Design Week. She was also recently awarded the Rafa Nasiri Award for Graphic Arts by the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.
2013 MUHANNAD ABBASI After graduating from medical school, Muhannad did a year of research in cardiology and heart transplantation, culminating in 10 publications, a book chapter and over 25 abstracts. Currently, Muhannad is working in internal medicine with an end goal of becoming a heart failure and transplant cardiologist. ZAIN ABDELRAZEQ Since graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology with an industrial engineering degree, Zain has been working as a logistics engineer on the distribution center management team at Penske Logistics in Cleveland, Ohio. Her projects mainly involve consulting work, through which she travels to client locations and works alongside the operations team on continuous improvement projects. Some of the clients she works with include Starbucks, Whirlpool, Kraft and Lowe’s. Zain also recently completed the Black Belt Lean Six Sigma training and is currently working on completing tollgates to get her certification. HUSSEIN ABUHASHISH Hussein is a third-year medical student,
Nadine Zaza ’12 receives the Rafa Nasiri Award for Graphic Arts
currently completing his clinical rotations at Montefiore Hospital in New York. AYA ABUOSBEH After leaving King’s, Aya attended Cornell University where she double majored in economics and political science, and double minored in inequality studies and law and society. She has been working in consulting for the past three years and is currently a strategy consultant at Accenture. EMAN ABUOSBEH Eman has worked at Ernst & Young for the last four years in assurance services and currently works as a senior in auditing. In her time at EY, Eman has worked in Jordan and Salt Lake City. OTHMAN ABU-SAMRA Living and working in New York City, Othman is a fraud and operations specialist at Octane Lending, one of the fastest-growing fintech startups in the city. He works on preventing loan fraud and enhancing business operations. HAMZA ADISA After completing his bachelor's in engineering at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, Hamza moved back home to Lagos. There, he works primarily as a technical consultant handling project management, quality assurance and advising, as well as other endeavors. AWN AL HADEED Awn is a trainee lawyer at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the region. He expects to be sworn into the Jordanian Bar Association in June, after which he will sit for the New York bar exam. AMER AL HADID Living in Dubai, Amer is a consultant for Boston Consulting Group (BCG). AYA AL JALAMDEH Following her 2018 graduation from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Aya returned to
Zain Abdelrazeq ’13 at work at Penske Logistics.
Jordan where she completed an internship with the Jordanian Royal Medical Services. She currently works at a hospital in Jordan. SHAHD AL-JAWHARI In 2017, Shahd completed her BA at Mount Holyoke College in mathematics. That fall, she returned to King’s to teach math. She is currently in her third year at King’s, where she teaches mainly sophomores and juniors. MARAH AL-JUBEH Marah lives in Dubai, where she works as an assistant brand manager and a producer for Radio Virgin.
manager at Superpharm, one of the biggest drug store chains. LORIN EL KURDI Following her graduation from Sciences Po Paris with a master’s in international public management, Lorin has worked in freelance capacities in Paris, focusing on counterextremism. She analyzes the online activity of extremist groups online and the evolution of their narratives and rhetoric, identifying people at risk and offering them alternative paths. She creates online content to counter narratives put forth by radical preachers in France, and tries to identify progressive voices to support and empower them.
ANAN AL-MAJALI Anan graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in mechanical engineering. She stayed in Utah and is currently working as a quality assurance specialist in Provo.
AMMAR AL SAADI Living in Istanbul, Ammar is attending Okan University, where he is majoring in mechanical engineering. JA’AFAR AL-TELL Ja'afar left New York in mid-2019 to join FirstCircle, the largest fintech lending startup in Southeast Asia. After spending almost a year working in strategic operations, Jaafar cofounded the first tech-enabled mass transportation solution for the 30 million commuters in Metro Manila, Lakbay. KHALED SHEIKH AMIN Based for the past year and a half in London, Khaled works in investment banking at Rothschild & Co. His work focuses on the healthcare sector. IZZEDIN (“IZZ”) ARYAN Izz lives and works in Amman, where he is the purchasing director at Pharmacy One. He is also the co-founder and co-owner of Al Aryan Equestrian Center. FARES DARAWSHE Fares graduated from Max Stern Academic College with a bachelor’s in economics and management. He works as the merchandise
KAREEM KARAMAN Upon completing his undergraduate degree in marketing, communications and advertising in 2017, Kareem took some time off before enrolling in a master’s program at University College Dublin (UCD) in European politics and policy in September 2018. As someone who takes an avid interest in business and politics, Kareem will be keeping his options open as far as job prospects are concerned. QAIS KHREISAT Qais received a BSc in mechanical engineering from the University of Jordan. He’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in vehicle engineering which is sponsored by Audi in Hungary.
RAKAN AL-MUHAISEN Living in Vancouver, Rakan works as a health and wellness coach. He co-founded A.Livefw (awaken and live), a Vancouver-based studio that caters to a wide range of clientele. HANEEN AL-MOSLEM Haneen lives in the UK, where she is pursuing an MSc in applied behavioral analysis at Bangor University in Northern Wales. She is also working with a behavioral analytical company in London as a junior behavioral analyst.
KHALED JARWAN Khaled lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and is currently working in sales quality assurance for Wyndham, a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest hotel companies in the US. Khaled recently finished real estate school and is preparing for law school, with a planned start in 2021. Khaled’s long-term plan is to start a consulting company.
EMRAN LALLOW Based in New Jersey, Emran studies at Rutgers University, where he is working towards his master’s in biomedical engineering and PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering. He is halfway through the program, and in his free time Emran still plays volleyball! Loreen El-Kurdi ’13 at her Sciences Po Paris graduation ALA HADDAD Ala has been working with Jibrel, a blockchain development company. He just moved back to Dubai and is currently exploring building fintech and digital currency applications for the region. TAMIM HALAWANI Tamim works in the fintech and digital payments industry, an evolving field that is transforming the retail experience for shoppers and business owners and reducing costs and integrating services for banking institutions. Tamim’s position, in a product development role, ensures that market feedback, business requirements and customer experiences are aligned. LAYTH ISMAIL After completing the management leadership program at Adrian-Martin Acquisitions in New York City, Layth joined Tata Consultancy Services in one of their projects in Saudi Arabia. Layth has since worked on many projects and built up crucial skills in the IT industry. Towards the end of 2019, Layth was promoted to a project manager position, and says he’s “excited about learning and challenging myself on daily basis.”
JOHANNA (“HANNA”) LEE Last summer, Hanna moved back to Jordan to improve her Arabic and gain experience with the local asylum field. She works as a writer in the Department of Communications and Office of Advancement at King’s, and freelances as a researcher for a legal tech firm in Amman. FAISAL MALAS Faisal works in tech in San Francisco. He also founded a nonprofit, Rasa, through which he hosts large networking and social events throughout the city. FARIS NAFFA After completing his master’s degree in accounting, Faris moved to Dallas, Texas. There, he has worked for the past year and a half at Deloitte in audit and assurance services. BARAKAT SAQA Barakat received his medical degree in 2019 and is currently completing his internship as a general practitioner. He aims to begin specialty training in orthopedic surgery or neurology. TALAL SISALEM Talal is currently studying music business at the University of California, Los Angeles. His studies and continued music creation are laying the groundwork for a successful career in the LA music industry! SPRING 2020
JAESOK (“JAE”) SURH Jae lives in Shanghai, where he works at Natural Build, an architecture firm. He worked at Natural Build for two summers as an intern in college, where he studied architectural studies. His work involves projects around China.
LARISA ABU GHANAM Larisa graduated last year from German Jordanian University with a BS in water and environmental engineering. She is currently working as an ESG analyst at Sustainability Excellence in Amman.
ANDREA TOOMEY Andrea is in Austin, where she is getting her master’s in Middle Eastern studies with a focus on Middle Eastern literature and religion at the University of Texas, Austin.
OMAR AGGAD Omar moved back home to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he works for Mediserv, a healthcare company, as their business and operations development manager.
TALAL TOUKAN At the end of 2018, Talal moved to San Francisco, where he works as a software engineer at Uber. He has taken up a few outdoor hobbies like climbing and surfing in his free time. RENEE UNDERHILL Renée is now in her fourth year teaching Arabic in Denver, Colorado. She completed a yoga teacher training last summer, and will be getting married this summer — congrats Renée!
2014 NAWAL ABBASI For the past year and a half, Nawal has worked for a German SaaS company that creates branded and customized employee apps for large enterprise organizations such as BMW and DHL. The company helps their clients’ communications teams deliver relevant information efficiently to employees regardless of where they work in the organization. As a partner manager, Nawal builds relationships between communications and tech agencies and her company. She says she has been fortunate to do a lot of international travel in Europe and Canada for her job, and is blessed with amazing coworkers.
LULU ABU KHAJIL After graduating from university in the UK in 2018, I moved to California to pursue my professional career here in San Diego. For the past two years, I’ve been working with Save the Children, a non-profit organization which works to improve the lives of children globally through better education, health care and economic opportunities, as well as protection from harm. I’m part of the team that supports work on national and global projects driving change for the world’s most vulnerable children. Every day, I get to meet new people and have new conversations, a part of the job that really allows me to grow. Outside of work, I constantly seek to grow by travelling to different parts of the world and learning more about various cultures and people.
ZAID AJLOUNI Based in Boston, Zaid works as a field applications engineer for Analog Devices Inc. RAGHAD AKROUK Raghad graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s in neuroscience. This year, she received her EMT license and is planning to apply to physician assistant programs. SAED AL ZAWAHREH Saed has been working in Amman in the field of research and development for over a year. After working as a due diligence officer with Mercy Corps Regional Office in Amman, he joined the World Bank Group as an early learning consultant in June 2020. OMAR BAHIG SHAWA For the past year and a half, Omar has worked at Bank of Palestine’s representative office in Dubai. He also runs his own business. JOSHUA (“JOSH”) CLAXTON Josh is living in the New Jersey/New York City area working for Mathematica as a research associate in the international development division. He helps design, implement and statistically evaluate maternal and neonatal health, family planning and nutrition programs run by large foundation partners around the world. He also supports Mathematica’s teams working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to measure the efficacy of infrastructure aid projects throughout West Africa. In the near future, he plans to move back to the Middle East and further his pursuit of high level Arabic proficiency. RIBHI EL-ZARU Based in Boston, Ribhi works as a software developer at a cloud security company. He works primarily on building distributed systems to efficiently ingest and analyze millions of data points per minute for potential security breaches. LILLIAN GHARIOS Lillian has lived in Aqaba since her wedding in January (congratulations, Lillian!). She works in shipping and teaches courses online, including one this spring called COVID-19, Climate Change & Resilience. Lillian is also currently pursuing a master’s in education.
Lillian Gharios ’14 at her wedding.
AYESHA GHOTO Ayesha has just completed her second-to-last year of medical school in RCSI Bahrain. She hopes to travel to the US in the coming months to complete an elective in a hospital in Boston. LAILA HAMMOUD Laila is studying English literature at the American University of Beirut. She says that she has found the loves of her life in her three lovely cats! FAWZI ITANI Fawzi lives in San Francisco where he works at LinkedIn. One of his favorite memories this past year was cooking a Middle Eastern brunch with Abdulrahman Jamjoom ’15 and Rami Rustom ’16. RAMSAY KAMHAWI BURTOFT Based in Dubai, Ramsay works in corporate finance at Deloitte. YOORIM LEE YooRim graduated from college this year, and is preparing for an exam to become a teacher in Korea. ASSER MADANAT Asser lives in Dubai, where he works as a developer for Network International, a company that handles payments processing solutions all over the Middle East and Africa. ALI MANGO Recently, Ali launched a film production company in Chicago. Through the company, he is producing and co-directing a period piece feature film based in the mid-west. As Ali is currently based in Jordan, for the time being he is focusing on expanding his connections and working on a few smaller personal projects.
LUNA MOMANI Luna is in her final year at the Jordanian University of Science at Technology, where she studies city planning and design. RAKAN MOMANI Rakan lives in Amman, and is currently in his final semester of industrial engineering at the German Jordanian University. SEUNG JONG (“SJ”) PARK Following his graduation from the University of Toronto, SJ remained in Toronto, where he is working as an accountant. He’s not sure if accounting is his long-term career, but he is testing it out. BASSAM SALAH After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in economics in 2018, Bassam was recruited by PwC in New York City. He currently works alongside lawyers and accountants in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) tax practice, and helps clients with valuations, due diligence and tax structuring. RAKAN SAWALHA Living between Jordan and Switzerland, Rakan is expanding his music career and running his events company. MOSES SGHAYYER After graduating last year with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering, Moses moved to Augusta, Georgia and enrolled in medical school at the Medical College of Georgia. He has just completed his first year there. WARD WAKILEH Ward recently finished a research year at Osaka University in Japan, where he enjoyed his free time by exploring the country. He is just starting his master's in bio-inspired chemical engineering. HUSSAM YASSIN Hussam founded the Sports Hub, the first sports management and entertainment company in the Middle East. AYMAN ZEINE Living in Boston, Ayman works as a data scientist at a neurobiology lab in Harvard Medical School. He is pursuing a data science master’s degree at Harvard as well.
2015 OMAR ABDEL LATIF After graduating from John Cabot University in Rome in 2018, Omar moved to Verona, Italy. There, he works in his family’s business, which handles the sourcing and installation of natural
stone for various projects. Omar loves the dynamism of the role, which allows him to travel all around the world in search of material or to see projects before they are built and during installation, and meet all kinds of people from the marble quarry owner to the final client. He lives near Lake Garda, surrounded by lush green vineyards, olive trees and beautiful Italian towns. The famed house of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet is a 20-minute stroll from his home! ADAM ABDUL HALIM Adam lives in New York City, where he works at a property tech startup. SAMMY ABDULRAHIM Since graduating from Middlebury College in 2019, Sammy been working as a communications officer at the Embassy of Jordan in Washington, D.C. His role involves lots of research, diplomacy, PR and, of course, communications, and he says he has grown tremendously through this experience. In his spare time, Sammy has been studying for the LSAT with the intention of going to law school in two years’ time. MOHAMMAD ABUAISHEH Mohammad is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida. Due to the pandemic, his graduation has been moved from May to August. He is considering seeking a graduate degree next. ZAID ABU AYYASH Zaid completed his bachelor's degree in marketing and management and his master’s degree in global supply chain management and logistics, both from the University of Sussex. He now lives in Amman, where he is learning the ropes of the family business. MALLAK AL HUSBAN Following her May 2019 graduation from Barnard College, Columbia University, Mallak joined STRATEGIECS, a think tank in Amman. There, she works as a researcher and English editor. She is currently exploring graduate school options. YOUSSEF AL-MUGHRABI For the past five years, Youssef has called France home as he has been completing his bachelor’s degree in international business in Paris. Next year, he will begin a master’s program in data science, also in Paris. He plans on becoming a data analyst after his studies. LEENA AL-NSOUR Leena has just completed her fifth year at the University of Jordan Medical School. There, she is a member of the Supervising Council at IFMSA-Jo University of Jordan Local
Committee, and a member of the Medical Department Student Support Committee. Last summer, Leena attended a clerkship at CHU hospital in Dijon, France. SALEH AL-QADI Saleh is currently studying electrical and communications engineering at the German Jordanian University. MISK AL SULTAN Last year, Misk graduated from American University with a bachelor’s in international business and marketing. She currently works in brand consulting at Creative Artists Agency in New York City. HAMZA ALI After graduating from Virginia Tech last year with a bachelor’s in business information technology, Hamza joined Deloitte as an IT risk consultant. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.
EUNSOL JUN Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I just wanted to leave a class note during this particular time because I wouldn't have continued what I'm doing if it wasn't for you all. I am on the path to getting a teaching licensure for Arabic and I can't wait to spread the love I have for this language with others. Thank you so much for being a huge motivation and support throughout this journey and I'm sending all of you lots of love and hugs your way!
JALIL KHOURY Jalil is nearing one year at JP Morgan Asset Management, where he works to sell investment solutions to institutions across the United States. JAMES KIM Following his service in the Korean army for two years, James joined Harvard University, where he studies computer science. He is set to graduate in 2021. MOHAMMED MAJALI Specializing in the field of industrial pharmacy, Mohammed recently had the opportunity to train at Hikma Pharmaceuticals, an opportunity that gave him great insights into his future career. SAFAK ORUC After graduating from King’s, Safak enrolled in the University of Surrey, from where he graduated this year with a degree in civil engineering. He aims to stay in the UK to work.
RAHAF QURAN After graduating with a bachelor’s in law from the University of Jordan, Rahaf joined a law firm in Amman where she works primarily on insurance cases. She was recently accepted into the University of Jordan’s graduate program in law.
JAWAD WLIEDAT Jawad graduated from Lawrence University last year with an economics major and double minor in history and innovation and entrepreneurship. He is now in Baton Rouge, LA, where he is working toward his JD/MBA at Louisiana State University.
Rahaf Quran ’15 on her graduation day with Aya Baker ’15
ADHAM ABU ABAILEH Adham is currently in his third year at Bradley University, where he studies civil engineering. In addition to achieving top marks, Adham works as a teaching assistant in the environmental engineering section of his department. He has won recognition in several competitions, and has participated in the Illinois Water Professionals Conference and American Concrete Institute Convention. He also works with the City of Preoria on several research projects, including a pilot program to improve the wastewater treatment process.
AZIZ SBEIH Aziz graduated from Washington College last year with a double major in international studies and economics. He is currently working on a master’s in national security studies at King’s College. Concurrently, Aziz is interning at Harod, a security investigations company. He is deciding whether to continue with Harod full-time or pursue a master’s program in criminology or finance and risk management, as he plans to eventually work in law enforcement. SARAH TAHA Last year, Sarah graduated from Union College with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. Since then, she has been working with Stanley Black & Decker as a technology SLP — a two-year rotational program that allows her to rotate between different teams across the company. For her first rotation, she has been in Hartford, CT, where she has been working with leaders across the company to understand the business and commercial needs of the company in order to identify technologies to address these needs.
Wasan Al-Dalabeeh ’16 attending her first surgery, a total resection of a meningioma.
YAZAN AL-ISSA Yazan has just completed his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Providence College. He hopes to pursue a one-year teaching and master’s program at NYU. Adham Abu Abaileh ’16 presenting his research on corrosion of reinforcement at the American Concrete Institute Convention in Cincinnati
HASHEM ABUKALAM EL ASHKAR Hashem is currently enrolled in the EU Business School Barcelona, where he is studying business management and entrepreneurship.
Sarah Taha ’16 (right) during one of the Stanley Black & Decker Leadership Program training weeks
WASAN AL-DALABEEH I’m currently in my fourth year of medical school. In Jordan, fourth year is when we start our clinical training, meaning we get to interact with patients and spend time at the hospital practicing all the skills and applying all the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the past years. This year I learned that I want to be a surgeon. Meredith Grey [“Grey’s Anatomy”] was so right when she described the feeling of being in the OR as “such a high!” I got to scrub in for the first time in neurosurgery, and I totally fell in love. This year I also got to reunite with my best friend Kinda AbuHawwash ’16, so that was amazing!
FAIZA AL-BAHRANI Faiza is enrolled at George Mason University in Virginia. Originally a chemistry major, she recently switched to mechanical engineering. She also works with the university’s outdoor department, taking students on hiking, camping, and rock climbing trips and teaching them outdoor skills.
ZAID AL RABADI Zaid is studying medicine at Mutah University. It is a demanding program, but he has made time to work as part of the research team at the King Hussein Cancer Center since last summer. FAISAL ALAMI A recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, Faisal received his bachelor’s in history and government. For the past few years, he has represented his university in fencing and debate competitions. He also founded his university's chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine in his freshman year, and led the group in its efforts to promote BDS. He is currently looking for a job in think tank research, teaching or paralegal work to build up his resume before applying to law school.
RAMI AYESH After graduating from King’s, Rami moved to Bremen, Germany, to attend Jacobs University, where he studied industrial engineering and management. During his studies, he completed a six-month internship in the field of category management with Caseable in Berlin. Since graduating last year, he has been working as an account manager at Compado in Berlin. RAYAN BADRIE After this year, Rayan will enroll in a master’s in civil engineering with construction management at Brighton University in England. He has stayed active at university, captaining the men’s volleyball team for three years. In the summers, he returned to Syria and worked at a construction company. NING BAO Ning is in her final year at Georgetown University, where she is studying political economy. She was just awarded the prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship, which will allow her to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. An active member of the Georgetown University Arab Society, Ning plans to spend her time at Tsinghua focusing on the areas of engagement and cooperation between China and the Middle East.
Ning Bao ’16
TALA HALASEH After graduating last year from university, Tala began working in finance at the Big Four in central London. LAILA HZAINEH Laila graduated in May from Swarthmore College, where she majored in peace and conflict studies, with a double minor in history and modern Arabic literature. She lives in Virginia, near Washington, D.C., and is looking for jobs related to her major, mostly social justice work or history research. JAEWON LEE Last year, JaeWon finished his military service in Korea, and he now lives in Chicago. JULIANA KALDANY Juliana just completed her bachelor’s in international business and Spanish from Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA. ABDULLATIF KANAFANI A recent King’s College London graduate, Abdullah is taking some time off to focus on what he wants to do. AHMAD MBAIDIN Ahmad is in his fifth and final year of medicine at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. He is also working part-time as a data entry trainer and website specialist at the NENA regional office of the GLOBE program, which is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide the opportunity to participate in environmental data collection and environmental research. HAMZA MECCA Hamza has just graduated from the University of Rhode island with a business degree. During his time in university, he began working on a startup — a music discovery platform that uses big data to connect independent artists to a specific audience. He will continue to work on the platform.
FAISAL DAHABRA Faisal took advantage of the quarantine this spring to spend quality time with his dad, going on daily bicycle rides around Montréal. He has also been building his website and Instagram platform, @streetwear_amman.
FARAH MIHYAR Based in London, Farah has just graduated from King’s College London, where she was studying international relations. She is applying for master’s degrees in different courses, and is considering staying in the UK.
AHMAD FRIEHAT Ahmad has recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh, and plans to take the next year as a gap year.
SEOK HYEON OH Seok Hyeon has just completed her fourth year at Yonsei University in Seoul, where she studies nanoscience and engineering. She will be graduating next year.
ABDULLAH GHOSHEH A recent King’s College London graduate, Abdullah is taking some time off to focus on what he wants to do.
HISHAM QANADILO Hisham has worked throughout the last year after graduating from Jacobs University with
a degree in electrical engineering. He is currently applying to master’s programs. RAMI RUSTOM Rami postponed his final year at MIT, deciding to take a year off to work on a startup in San Francisco as a software engineer. He met the startup’s founders at MIT (one was a professor and the other his PhD student), and joined them for a summer internship, which then turned into a full-time position. Rami is hoping to return to MIT in the fall to finish his degree. SAMA SARRAJ Sama has just graduated from Columbia University with a BA in psychology and Middle Eastern studies. She is currently in Amman, but hopes to be back in New York City or exploring some other city in the fall.
2017 LENA AL-KAISY In 2018, in the fall term of my sophomore year at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), I decided to transfer majors from Apparel to Graphic Design. Graphic Design has allowed me to progress as an artist — ethically, physically and emotionally. My new major has taught me a lot of skills. I used to say that I can never be an architect because it requires precision and a lot of technicality. Now, my favorite part about graphic design is the process of attaining precision and accuracy in my work. Most of the time you’ll find me in the Type Shop, which is where all the printing, binding, folding, cutting and measuring takes place. I developed an eye that’s critical of the slightest color changes when printing or the inaccurate paper cuts that are inevitable sometimes with the shop’s tools. My obsession with perfection truly surfaced this past year. You only realize you’re extremely passionate about something when you voluntarily stay up until 3 am teaching yourself new software and reading books because of your desire for personal growth. This past year I’ve practiced handson graphic design work. After having to turn down a six-month internship for Hugo Boss — due to RISD’s strict policy that inhibits students from skipping a term for an internship — I interned for Ro’ya TV during the summer instead. In November, I was asked to be one of the cofounders for a startup company. Then later in January, the Palestinian
mask that I created in response to the Palestine vs. Israel conflict was mentioned in and used for Brown University’s Undergraduate Journal of Middle East Studies cover. Having my political work still be mentioned — even after transferring majors — is the most fulfilling feeling for any artist. It’s a dream to see your work impact and revive across time. [Lena’s mask was mentioned in “Fashion Forward” in Beyond King’s Volume 7.]
MUHAMMAD NASIR Muhammad is pursuing a bachelor’s in aeronautical engineering at the University of Limerick in Ireland. He is a competitive rower for his school, which takes up most of his free time. He says he enjoys the busyness and competitive atmosphere of rowing. Muhammad is also about to start an eightmonth internship with Santos Dumont, an aviation management company in Dublin.
Balqees Al-Shorman ’18 with her King's Summer Enrichment Program class
2018 ABDULLAH ABUOMAR Abdullah is currently in his second year at the University of Rochester, where he is studying biomedical engineering and Spanish. He works in the university’s Admissions Office as a virtual interviewer for first-year international applicants and is a teaching assistant for several programming courses. Abdullah started Rochester’s Engineering World Health Chapter. He says, “I thank King’s for all the skills and life lessons that it taught me and how it helped me succeed at my current academic institution.”
Alicja Borzyszkowska ’18 on a visit to the Shangai migrant school as part of the Children and Childhood project with NYU Abu Dhabi
BALQEES AL-SHORMAN Balqees is studying architecture at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, where she is currently working on launching an MUN branch. She returned to King’s in 2019 to teach at SEP, saying that through the experience she hoped “to give the students the same experience I had eight years ago.”
ALICJA BORZYSZKOWSKA After graduating from King’s, Alicja was so enamored of the region that she decided to stay in the region longer, enrolling in a bachelor of social research and public policy at NYU Abu Dhabi. In her studies, she has deeply researched the impact of war on children, which led her to conduct extensive fieldwork last winter in the Horn of Africa and this past January in China. Alicja is continuing to learn Arabic, and enjoys exploring the Emirates, though she anticipates she will be back in Jordan before long. FAWAZ SHASHAA Fawaz is studying in Boston at Suffolk University, where he is majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship. He loves Boston — but not the cold!
Abdullah Abuomar ’18 and his team attending the SPARK Innovation Competition in Syracuse, NY
RAFE’ ZOUBI Rafe’ is studying medicine at Cardiff University in the UK. He loves studying in Wales and finds that the location adds a whole new dimension to his academic experience. Continuing from his time as a proctor at King’s, Rafe’ is a residential life assistant, helping students make easier transitions into life at university.
2019 WALID ABU AL-AFIA Walid lives in Memphis, Tennessee and is attending Rhodes College, where he is studying computer science, economics and art history. Walid says: “I had never realized how closely King’s has prepared me to take on college classes! I have been finding them similar to the ones in King’s, especially the computer science classes that I have a great background knowledge for from Mr. David Friedman’s AP Computer Science class. I live in Memphis, a beautiful, historically-rich city in Tennessee and it’s helping me learn and navigate southern culture!” KAREEM ABUALI Since graduating from King's, Kareem has been braving the Montreal cold while attending McGill University. Studying a range of classes within the school's Bachelor of Arts program, he has been able to explore his interests in cinema, history and literature. Outside of school, Kareem remains occupied with his pastimes of music, film and medieval European history. ZAID ALAMARAT Zaid is currently studying dentistry at the University of Jordan. SELINA ALMASARWAH Selina declared her major at Skidmore College, NY, in computer science. She is spending the summer conducting research in the field of databases.
SALMA JOUANEH After graduating, Salma moved to England to pursue a law degree at the University of York. She has been exploring new interests outside of law, such as dance and a growing interest in political literature/activism.
HADEEL SHWWA As I am writing this, I have been on a gap year for nine months, and have almost six months left. During this time, I have used every minute to do everything I've always wanted to do in high school but did not have the time (or courage... or luck!), and that does not just include convincing my relatives that I am not wasting my time by taking a gap year. I shaved my head after dyeing my hair blue, took Spanish classes at Instituto Cervantes, started taking better care of the environment, got to know myself and my habits better, learned to fulfill my spiritual needs and read books I never had the time for. A little over two weeks ago, I also got into college! I will be attending Smith College this fall, and I'm beyond excited for that.
ZAYD LAHHAM Zayd just completed his first year as a business of cinematic arts student at the University of Southern California. Through cooking, paying bills and applying to jobs, Zayd has been learning how to live independently. He has been able to reconnect with family in California and enjoys baking with his aunt and making music with his cousin. He says that he misses Chef Jamil and the King's chocolate chip cookies!
DARIO POMAR I am studying law at the University of Edinburgh! The first year of university has consisted of a lot of adjusting to new things: new routines to fall into, new people to meet, new streets to explore. Other than studying law, which has its ups (I've discovered I'm very interested in criminology!) and its downs (not so interested in constitutional law), I am part of the Law Student's Council, as well as the Justice for Palestine Society, for which I am the social media/ marketing officer. I have met amazing friends and I love Edinburgh as a city. That said, I often found myself missing home, King's and Amman!
Hadeel Shwwa ’19 meeting new people and discussing vegetarianism/veganism in Jordan.
Back row (left to right): Salma Jouaneh ’19, Sayf Abdeen ’19, Majd Shatara ’19 and Sama Zou’bi ’19 Front row: Dario-Karim Pomar Azar ’19, Walid Abu Al-Afieh ’19 and Zayd Lahham ’19
CLASS OF 2020 We look forward to hearing your updates this year!
BRIDGING THE GAP (YEAR)
Omar Halawa ’12 Connects Personal and Professional Fulfillment BY OMAR HALAWA ’12
y the fall of my junior year at King’s Academy I had already decided: I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I took several Advanced Placement (AP) science classes, set up shadowing experiences at a hospital in Amman and looked into the medical school application process in the United States. The process is long and complicated. After four years of an undergraduate degree, I would need to complete another four years of medical school before undergoing specialty training that could last anywhere between three and seven years. Because there are so many hoops to jump through to actually get there, I was determined to focus all of my energy on the goal of becoming a doctor. This required taking only premed college classes, signing up for every medicine-related volunteer and research opportunity out there and studying for the MCAT (the medical school entry exam in the United States). 104
I was so afraid of “wasting” my time on anything else. By my third year of college, however, I was spending less time in a lab and more time dancing in a Dabke group, writing recipes for the culinary society and taking classes on Spanish history and Islamic civilization. I studied in Argentina and had the experience of a lifetime. I did not stop working towards medical school applications — I took pre-med classes, volunteered and participated in research — but I chose to also spend my time doing other things that were fulfilling to me. Studying abroad meant that I couldn’t apply to matriculate into medical school straight after college. I needed to take a “gap year,” which would add more time to the long journey of becoming a physician. But the decision to take the additional year wasn’t very difficult: it was one more year of experiences added to my medical school application, and one more year of personal growth. I worked
as a research assistant on a clinical research project, made wonderful new friends at my job and got to learn some ballet. I applied and interviewed at medical schools during this gap year. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), the three most common interview questions were: What is Dabke? Tell me about your time in Argentina. What is your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in New York? I was asked very few questions about my research or hospital volunteering. The interviewers were more interested in getting to know me as a person. I wish I could go back and tell myself, the 17-year-old King’s Academy senior with a necktie and a face full of pimples, to stop and smell the proverbial roses. In the years I’ve spent preparing to be a physician, life hasn’t stopped. I’ve had plenty of time to have fun, grow and explore the world, making me a more complete human being, better equipped to take care of my future patients.
Support diversity, tolerance and transformation Give to Kingâ€™s www.kingsacademy.edu.jo/giving SPRING 2020