Summer in Beirut

While conflicts in the Middle East generated headline news this summer, three Scripps College students lived in Lebanon and either met with Palestinian refugees or interned at a conflict management think tank in Beirut.

The students are seniors Monica Dreitcer ’13, Bryn Morgan ’13, and Claire Wilson ’13. The three are also all majoring in Middle East and North Africa studies. In addition, Bryn is also pursuing a dual major in religious studies.

Monica, 21, studied at the American University of Beirut last spring and stayed in Lebanon to interview Palestinian refugees on family planning practices. She relied on a translator to communicate.

“I found a community that was caring, hospitable, and soon became where I was most comfortable. I was talking to women I had never met before, whose language I didn’t speak well, and whose futures were mostly much more limited than my own. But they welcomed me into their homes, gave me strong coffee, and answered my questions,” Monica says.

Bryn, 20, was a recipient of the Scripps Conflict Management Internship Grant, which supports experiences at organizations dedicated to peace and conflict resolution. The grant funded her internship at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, a Beirut-based think tank. She also conducted interviews as part of her senior thesis research on young adults’ personal relationship with their religion, in light of the role sectarianism  plays in Beirut.

“I got to do research that fascinates me to no end and experience and learn more about an amazing city and region!” says Bryn, who studies Arabic and who has previously visited Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.

Claire, 21, was a volunteer program instructor at Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. She began volunteering at the camp while at the American University of Beirut this spring. She stayed in Lebanon for the summer after she was awarded funding from Scripps College’s Davis Family Foundation Leadership Internship Grant.

“Palestinians in Lebanon face severe discrimination,” says Claire, who speaks Arabic. “Working in Shatila helped me better understand the challenges of Palestinian refugees.

“I had the opportunity to dramatically improve my Arabic language skills and I gained valuable knowledge of the process of humanitarian aid and development work,” says Claire, who has conducted field research in Jordan. “All of this insight has played a valuable role in deciding my career paths.”

Above: Monica Dreitcer ’13, Claire Wilson ’13, Bryn Morgan ’13, and Professor Lara Deeb in Lebanon this past summer.