International Students Explore Diverse Interests at AUC Winter Session

This winter session, international students from a wide variety of fields -- ranging from environmental policy to social enterprise -- had the opportunity to intensively study the intricacies of public policy and administration during a three-week course at AUC. 

Coming from Middlebury, the eight international students enrolled in a course titled Special Topics in Public Policy and Administration: Design, Partnership, Management and Innovation, taught by Khaled Abdelhalim, assistant professor of urban policy in the Department of Public Policy and Administration. The students spend three hours in class each day for this intensive educational experience.

As Dean of Students George Marquis noted, “AUC’s winter session was, in its original design, intended for international students. As we had no international students during the winter session last year, this is a very welcome change.”

Seven of these eight students are graduate students at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), and one, who demonstrated particular experience and interest in Middle Eastern affairs, is an undergraduate at Middlebury College. The program at AUC is part of a larger, longstanding winter session program at MIIS, where students have the option to study at many different global universities.

The eight students all appreciate the opportunity this program has given them to observe leaders in the fields of development and public policy. Through both their class and various AUC alumni connections, they are getting a broad introduction to the nonprofit world in Egypt.

For the MIIS students, whose academic focuses vary, so too does their experience in the Middle East or Egypt.

Laura Tedford, who has a background in Russian studies, chose to come to Egypt to “experience a new part of the world.” The half-Mexican Tedford was surprised to find “interesting similarities between the Egyptian and Mexican cultures.”  

While he has lived in five other countries, it has been a lifelong dream for Chris Meyers to travel to Egypt. “I have wanted to go to Egypt since I was 5 years old,” he said. “As long as I can remember I’ve had a passion for the region. This country has blown me away.”

For Egyptian-American Radwa Wahba, studying at AUC was fulfilling a familial tradition of sorts. Although her family hails from Alexandria, Wahba’s father graduated from AUC.“My father is in an alumnus of AUC, so I am familiar with the downtown campus,” she said. “But the New Cairo campus is new to me. It is so impressive and beautiful. Spending time on AUC’s campus has really been a highlight of my experience.”

Marquis emphasized that this program extends beyond the fields that AUC may be more traditionally recognized for as a study-abroad institute. “This program shows there are many reasons for international students to come and study at AUC other than, for example, Arabic,” he said. “The University is more than just that, and it is strong across many disciplines.”

Regarding the shorter duration of the winter session, Amal Salah, director of the Office of International Students and Study Abroad, expressed that “this program allows students to test the waters of Egypt and AUC in a shorter session,” she said. “With a full safety, security and cultural orientation, we introduce students safely and securely to important places in Cairo and at the University, so they can then go explore them on their own.”

Salah discussed the potential of offering a similar course every winter session, possibly even including a formal internship component. “Any one student’s good experience has a multiplier effect on encouraging more and more international students to come to AUC,” she affirmed.