Students studying outside the library

Alumni Spotlight

Phifer Nicholson

Phifer Nicholson

 

 1) Why did you decide to be a part of the MENA Program? 

I decided to become a part of the MENA Program at Wofford because I am extremely interested in the Islamic Faith and the nuanced Middle Eastern context where it originated and still lives today. Furthermore, my passions lie in the area of interfaith engagement/peacemaking, for I am seeking to live out my Christian faith in a way that fosters relationship, dialogue, and peace between religions and ethnicities that often-times are at odds with each other. I believe in the power of relationship to subvert the (often false) narratives we are fed and change our deep-seated stigmatizations, and the MENA Program is a way that I can live out that belief. 

2) What do you plan to do with MENA while you are at Wofford? 

Through this program, I have had the opportunity to begin learning the Arabic Language, and am also currently conducting a project entitled, "Interfaith Friendships: Finding Peace Amidst Difference," which consists of ethnographic field research collected in Minnesota, Turkey, and Israel/Palestine. When I return in the spring of 2016, I plan on creating a capstone project focused on the things I have learned and collected while abroad. 

3) What do you plan to do with MENA once you graduate? 

As of now, I am not sure how everything will play out. Recently, I have decided to pursue Medicine as a career, but my passions for the humanities and interfaith have not changed. Instead, I hope to use this path as a means for service, engagement, and am actually hoping to pursue a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies alongside a medical degree in order to continue delving in to the Middle East and the people that are influenced by its culture. My work and research in MENA will continue, I believe, as long as I live. 

4) Can you describe what you are doing in some of your MENA Program courses? 

The MENA courses have taken me from an archaeological dig in Israel, to studying religious minorities in Istanbul, to learning Arabic and the contemporary manifestations of Islamic practice in the classroom at Wofford. The interdisciplinary nature of this program is evident in the wide variety of courses available, and allow for individual students to create the experience they wish to have, and delve in to the topics they wish to learn, all the while possessing a strong through-line of engagement with the vibrant cultures of the Middle East and its manifestations all over the world. This helps create critical-thinking, active-learning, serious individuals who care about responsibly engaging the people, places, and problems that exist in the Middle East. 

Phifer Nicholson named Presidential International Scholar

Phifer's Presidential International Scholars Blog  

Bailey Carraway

 
1) Why did you decide to be a part of the MENA Program? 

The MENA region is really important to the Western World -- politically, but also socially and economically -- and it will only become more important in the future. I like how the MENA concentration prepares you to confront this region, which seems so different at first glance without knowledge and understanding. The concentration is also great because it's versatile; while I have to take a certain number of credit hours, the classes I can choose from are really diverse. I really love languages, so I've focused on taking Arabic courses, and I find the interplay between Europe and the MENA region interesting, so I've also taken courses on Muslim immigrant communities in Western Europe.

2) What do you plan to do with MENA while you are at Wofford? 

Last summer, I spent a month in Rabat, Morocco for an Intensive Arabic Course, where I was able to live with a host family and experience Ramadan in a predominantly Muslim country. It was an incredibly cool experience and made me grow as a person more than any other study abroad program I've done. This semester I am abroad in Berlin, Germany, and am taking a course on the immigrant groups within Germany, with a focus on the Turkish minority. When I get back to Wofford, I'll be completing my Senior Capstone Project. (I know I want to do research on Algeria after independence but I'm not sure what I want to focus on yet...)

3) What do you plan to do with MENA once you graduate? 

I'm applying to graduate schools right now, so I hope I will be going to graduate school for a program related to MENA studies! But I'm also applying to law schools and to the Peace Corps in Kosovo. So I have a lot of alternate plans, but I really hope to do something with the MENA region in the long term, either in the government or within an NGO.

4) Can you describe what you are doing in some of your MENA Program courses? 

I think it's really great that the MENA concentration accepts study abroad credits towards completion of the minor. So right now, I'm taking "Portable Roots" which is a class about immigrant groups in Germany, and at the end of the course I have to write a term paper about a topic of my choice (in German). It's a great course, because the immigrant situation in Germany is changing every day, so it feels really timely.