A Cultural Experience: Video Transcript

Megan Zimmerer [honors senior double major in International Studies and French, Class of 2018]: I've been trying to figure out how I can incorporate like studying Mali in the different classes that I'm taking right now. So it started off as like a research opportunity advertised through the International Studies department, so Dr. Charles Stevens informed me of the opportunity. My job was to research French military operations in Mali.

Over the summer, through an opportunity through the Honors department, I got a grant to travel to New York, and then the goal of that was to explore UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, so with a background of the French military operations I was able to examine how the United Nations was acting in Mali. So I had the opportunity to go to New York and interview some people from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations about what's called the Barkhane Mission. I also got to speak to a couple of people from the International Peace Institute, so that was really cool. Hearing them talk about it just really brought it to life for me. It was so humbling and amazing, and I'm really glad that I got to do it!

So a lot of students who study Arabic at Miami end up going to Jordan through different programs, but one of our professors [Mr. Saleh Yousef] is Jordanian, so he's able to facilitate studying Jordan more easily. It's one of the main countries that people studying Arabic go to too to study Arabic, especially since we're studying the Levantine dialect, so I studied at the Qasid Institute in Amman. I stayed alone in an apartment, but then I ended up spending a lot of time with my professor Saleh Yousef's family.

So when I first went there, it was in the middle of Ramadan, which is really interesting because I'm a Muslim, so I was fasting, and just the cultural experience there was really interesting. I mean, basically nothing was open during the day, and then the nightlife is insane. So I ended up going out a lot during Ramadan, just to like coffee shops, and I ended up making a lot of friends and just doing a lot of, trying to explore the city and then also we ended up going on a lot of excursions, so we went to Petra, and Wadi Rum and Wadi Mujib, and those were a lot of really amazing and beautiful places.

It almost kind of feels like a dream because it was so different from anything else that I'd ever experienced in my life. Again, it just really brought everything that I had learned to life. Coming out of it I felt a lot more confident in my own abilities, and I just felt like I could do anything after that.

[December 2017]