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Dear Alum & Friends of MESP, I hope you enjoy this newsletter profiling alums who are currently serving as representatives of the Fulbright Scholarship Program and the Mennonite Central Committee MESP is also especially honored to welcome David Owen, PhD candidate in Islamic Studies at Harvard. David is teaching the Islamic Thought and Practice course this semester, while on a Hebrew language fellowship at Hebrew University. Students are benefiting from his long journey in the Middle East; both as a scholar and adventurer, and his expertise on Andalusia is helping to prepare them for their upcoming regional travel that includes Islamic Spain. Thank you David for your willingness to be part of MESP this semester! This is also the first semester that MESP has used its new apartments in Beit Tsafafa, across from the Center at Tantur. Students love the neighborhood and the nearby hangouts of Schnitzel King and Harosmarine Café. These apartments give them a closer look at the local culture, and their proximity to Tantur make safety and convenience prime advantages. 3

Students return from local home stays today, and before long we will be traveling to Spain, Morocco and Turkey. As always, thank you for your continued support and prayers!

The MESP Update is a personal communication from Dr. David Holt to his friends, colleagues, and MESP alumni. It is intended to inform and give insight on what he is doing as director of the Middle East Studies Program and to share profiles and stories on past and current MESP students. Comments or opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily represent the views of MESP or the CCCU. The MESP Update is published bimonthly, during the regular semester. APPLICATIONS FOR FALL ‘13 SEMESTER ARE DUE BY


Blessings ,

David P. Holt

TWO MESP ALUMNI MAKE THE 2012-2013 FULBRIGHT ROSTER! Two MESP alums from the Fall 2010 student cohort were recently awarded Fulbright scholarships and are currently serving in Turkey with the English Teaching Assistantship program (ETA). Ruby O’Connor (Seattle Pacific University) works in the city of Afyonkarahisa, and Emily Pope (Calvin College) was assigned to Ataturk University in Erzurum, the largest city in Eastern Anatolia.

L-R: Ruby O’Connor and Emily Pope with three of their friends

In late November, Ruby O’Connor stopped by and addressed the MESP students during their visit to Istanbul. She eagerly described her daily duties and experiences in Afyonkarahisar, and gave the students general tips about the Fulbright application process and encouraged MESPers to apply. “While my semester on MESP was a definite asset, I also believe that my volunteering experiences in Seattle enhanced my chances for getting a Fulbright." Ruby hasn't yet decided about her life after the Fulbright, but engaging her students and learning the culture and language of Turkey remind her how grateful she is just to live in the present. Meanwhile, she occasionally enjoys the company of ETA colleagues on weekend travel journeys both within and beyond the borders of Turkey.

At the age of 17, Emily Pope travelled to Morocco to teach English for one month and returned the following two summers: “The Muslim culture and hospitality fascinated me!” Later, traveling with MESP, she was privileged to visit Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. “Damascus and Istanbul were my favorite cities and I became interested in Fulbright as an opportunity to live abroad and learn more about the region." Emily is currently teaching spoken English to first year engineering students and to professors in the Medical School. She describes Erzurum “as a fascinating place” with a large Iranian-Azeri population. Some of her students come from Azerbaijan and Afghanistan. “Though Erzurum is the coldest city in Turkey, the people are incredibly warm, friendly, and hospitable.” Emily plans to renew her Fulbright ETA contract for another year before pursuing a doctoral program in Geography with an emphasis in Turkey. MESP is always honored to play some small part in facilitating the vocational direction of alums like Ruby and Emily, and naturally, we are proud of



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the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)

The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a relief, service, and peace agency representing 15 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America. MCC works alongside local churches and communities in more than 50 countries, to carry out disaster relief, sustainable community development and justice and peace-building work in the name of Christ. MCC also seeks to build bridges to connect people and ideas across cultural, political and economic divides. (from

Over the last decade, many MESP alumni have worked with MCC in various capacities worldwide. In this issue of the MESP Update we feature four former MESPers who are currently working with MCC: Tobias Roberts, Rebecca MacVaugh, Erica Sherwood and Erin Brewer. After attending MESP in 2005, Tobias Roberts, from Asbury University, originally wanted to join MCC in Palestine. However, the position closed and MCC offered him another one in Central AmerTobias Roberts ica. For the first four years, he worked in rural El Salvador on a project “aimed at empowering rural women through small cooperative enterprises and training in gender equity." He also served a group of families living with HIV. Tobias then relocated to Guatemala, and has spent the last two years in the Mayan Highlands working with indigenous opposition to the forced construction of mega-hydroelectric dams in their ancestral territories. He also supports youth 'start up' agro-ecological projects. Tobias appreciates MCC’s commitment “to giving a voice to Mayan peasants.” He plans to continue working with the Mayan people for another two years. After that, he says “my wife and I hope to start a small farm in El Salvador, living sustainably with roots in a local community." A Messiah College graduate, Rebecca MacVaugh attended MESP in Rebecca with Eman, an Egyptian friend Spring ‘09 and is currently on a 3-year appointment with MCC in Cairo, Egypt. “The internship that I took the summer after MESP and the friendships I cultivated during my stay, motivated me to return to live and work in Cairo”. Rebecca is currently serving the Coptic Orthodox Christians as a part of MCC's mandate to support the Christian minority in Egypt. “My work is relationship-

focused more than anything, which provides so many unexpected opportunities to learn from Coptic Christians here”. Rebecca remains busy maintaining two jobs with MCC: “I work half-time as an EFL teacher to adults in the Coptic Orthodox cathedral, and the other half as an English tutor at a boarding home for underprivileged girls.” Almost half way through her term, which ends in July 2014, Rebecca still loves and enjoys the hectic pace and diversity of Cairo. “It is energizing to see so many young people excited about the future of Egypt, despite all the daily challenges.” Her immediate plan is to complete her term with MCC. After that, Rebecca hopes to work with refugees, either in Cairo or the US.

Erica Sherwood, a MESP alum from Spring’ 10, is a graduate of Bethel University in MN. Erica currently participates in MCC's SALT Erica with some of her lovely students program in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. (SALT is a year-long program that offers a variety of international service positions for young adults). Since her arrival in August 2012, Erica has been building relationships and learning how to teach and encourage conversational English at a lower income all-girls school. She says: “In deciding to live a year abroad, I hoped to learn from a new way of life. I especially appreciate the moments here when I notice our interconnectedness as people on earth, and can begin to piece together this experience in India with my life in Minnesota and the States, my knowledge of the Middle East and my time with MESP.” Erica is also making intentional efforts to build friendships with the Muslim community in West Bengal. “With tensions between the Muslim community and the United States heightening this past Fall, I have realized that as a US citizen, there is a great need for me to be a part

of building and sewing peaceful relationships with Muslim communities wherever I am." Erica is honored to be a part of “the sustainable, consistent, humble work MCC commits itself to around the globe."

Erin Brewer from Milligan College, and a Spring ‘11 MESP alum is working with two community nutrition centers in Montero, Bolivia through MCC's Service and Learning Together Program Erin at the Community garden (SALT). Her main responsibilities so far have consisted of interviewing new women who are entering the program at the nutrition center, making community visits, helping to create a system to comprehensively organize and monitor program information, assisting kids with their homework, and of course, playing lots of soccer! “These centers provide healthy meals to approximately 150 children every day, educate mothers and children on various nutrition and health topics, offer after-school help for kids, and focus on empowerment of women through vocational training and income generation for their families." Erin considers it an immense privilege to work with MCC and appreciates the emphasis MCC places on ‘wholeness’. “It is refreshing to be part of a Christian organization that values the physical needs of a person as much as their spiritual needs.” She sees the experience as personally important in terms of how she approaches and interprets God in her daily life, and believes that her time in Bolivia will reform the way she understands herself, God, and others. "It is healthy," says Erin, "to be in constant revision of how I understand those things." Her future plan is to enjoy Bolivia and learn as much as she can from the Montero community. After SALT, Erin hopes to continue her education in a “health-related capacity, either medical school or public/international health development."


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SERVING AND LEARNING In a land riven with conflict, it can be difficult to engage the surrounding society in ways that aren’t political. However, MESP students do exactly that every Tuesday at their service projects (video) – an integral part of MESP’s experiential learning strategy. As past MESPers will attest, spending a full day each week serving locally is an exciting and challenging way to get out of the classroom and make learning practical and real. Current students are serving at various organizations in Israel/Palestine, focused on community development and providing for the marginalized. For example, at Al-Basma Rehabilitation Center for Adults with Disabilities in Beit Sahour, Carson Frutiger (Bethel University), Cam Sorenson (Trinity Western University), and Deborah Givens (Trevecca Nazarene University) help in various ways to further Al-Basma’s goals to fully integrate Carson Frutiger with clients at Al-Basma the disabled as valued community members. This includes making paper, weaving carpets, growing spinach in the greenhouse, making heating fuel from leftover materials, and other tasks around the center. Carson, Cam, and Deborah not only help on tasks, but most importantly are involved in the lives of Al-Basma’s disabled clients, forming relationships that hold valuable lessons for both the students and the clients. "Tuesdays at Al Basma (the smile) have provided me with the opportunity to not only give back, in a small way, to the community of Beit Sahour, but also to interact with and learn from an aspect of Palestinian culture that is rarely seen or experienced." says Carson Frutiger. Meanwhile, Julia Wilson (Roberts Wesleyan University) and Meagan Dooley Julia Wilson with local students at (Seattle Pacific University) volunteer at “The American School” in Beit Jala, assisting Arab and visiting American teach“The American School” ers by tutoring, managing the library, and building relationships with the students they encounter. MESP is excited to continue the tradition of involving our students practically in local life, building relationships that transform our students and the people they encounter from misunderstanding to new ways of viewing and treating the other. —by Chris Mawhorter, MESP Program Assistant








David P. Holt (PhD) Director, Middle East Studies Program Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Jerusalem, Israel and Washington, DC 0549051844 (Israel) (00972)549051844 (From the USA)



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