“The Jordan experience was amazing. I'd always had an academic interest in the Middle East, but surrounded by the food, the scents, the beautiful language, the rainbow of tapestries and paintings, and the ancient stone city of Petra, I fell in love with the region. The natural beauty of the Middle East and Jordan, combined with the amazing staff of teachers and advisors that really becomes a second family, makes this program a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Daniel Wang

July 6  – July 26, 2014

  • Expand your understanding of the people and culture of the Middle East
  • Visit natural, historical, and cultural landmarks throughout  Jordan
  • Develop writing, research, and critical thinking skills necessary for success in college
  • Earn an official Columbia University Statement of Attendance and written evaluations from Columbia instructors

Culture and History: Understanding the Arab World is a pre-college summer program for students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college, organized in collaboration with King's Academy in Jordan and facilitated by the Columbia University Middle East Research Center in Amman. The program is conducted in English; no knowledge of Arabic is required.

This program offers a unique opportunity for students to combine substantive reading and coursework with firsthand experience in an Arab country. Students live and study at King's Academy in Manja, Jordan, and travel extensively throughout Jordan with a variety of local guides and organizations. Participants emerge from this program with a working knowledge of the history and cultures of the modern Arab world, phrases in conversational Arabic, valuable skills applicable in any academic context, and unforgettable experiences of life in Jordan.

Upon arrival in Amman, Jordan, students will be escorted to their home base at King’s Academy and start into an intensive week of coursework. As the students settle into a rhythm with their studies and the time zones, we begin daytrips around the region (Amman City and Citadel, CUMERC, Darat al-Funoun Contemporary Art Museum, and even a Jordanian mall). Students will take two extended trips from King’s Academy, in the middle and end of the program, to afford them the opportunity to travel farther afield to apply and experience what they will have learned in the classroom in a number of authentic and personal contexts. First, we head north to Jordan’s groundbreaking EcoPark, a nature reserve founded by the Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli cooperative Friends of the Earth Middle East. From there, we discover the region’s budding environmental movement through activities at EcoPark and the surrounding villages of the Jordan River Valley. The second trip will take the students south for a two-day camping trip with local outfit Bedouin Discovery, during which they will explore Petra and the Wadi Rum desert with Bedouin guides, then wash it off at a Turkish bathhouse. The program concludes back at King’s Academy, where participants channel their coursework, cultural experiences, and ethnographic research into a group magazine project, which they will present on the last day of the program.