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Summer 2017

Andrew Kuznetsov

UC Berkeley

Andrew grew up with a worldly perspective. Born in Columbus, Ohio to a family of Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, he is a first-generation American, the consequence of generations of displacement, violence, hope, and multicultural, multilingual melting, assimilation. He was raised in the suburbs of New Jersey, although for the past two years he has called Berkeley, California his home. While studying Comparative Literature of French and Arabic at University of California, Berkeley, Andrew is completing an Independent Study research program in International Migration Studies. His coursework attempts to capture his general interests in world languages and cultures, social and political theory, and literature. After college, he hopes to apply his education by working with immigrants and refugees, possibly as an interpreter or a resettlement assistant. By working towards a world that is more welcoming to victims of violent displacement, he hopes to do justice to his parents’ experience as immigrants. Thankful to the people he will meet on the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship and the knowledge they will share with him, Andrew hopes to act as an interfaith educator within his student community at Berkeley as well as within his Soviet Jewish community. His experience in the Middle East will also be instructive for the thesis he plans to write for his Independent Study research program, which will concern issues of political violence, displacement, migration, and assimilation.

Grace Gottlick

New Jersey City University

Grace is a rising sophomore student at New Jersey City University, she is of the select few who is a member of the NJCU Honors College, which grants her a full ride scholarship. She majors in biology and public health, with a focus in Arabic language and political science. She is a self-described chronically ill scholar and advocates on behalf of invisible and rare illness. She is a Christian-Buddhist, and her mantra is “aspiring to inspire”. Grace busies herself with her studies, but when she’s not studying you can find her serving as the Vice President of Service for Alpha Phi Omega, national co-ed service fraternity incorporated, where she is described by her brothers as a selfless servant. Grace is also on the founding executive board of the Drea[ME]rs organization on campus which is a four-pillared program that seeks to help refugee, undocumented, and immigrant students with financial, legal, educational, and community assistance. This organization, has hosted several events promoting assistance, peace, and understanding about the struggles students of those status’ face, as well as encouraging intersectional unity. Grace is also a member of the Muslim Student Association, and greenhouse society. When she’s not on campus Grace volunteers as an Emergency Medical Technician for the Clark Volunteer Emergency Squad, as well she volunteers at the Friends of Linden Animal Shelter cleaning the facility and caring for the dogs. Miss Gottlick’s hobbies include hiking, camping, working out, cooking and eating a healthy vegetarian diet, reading, scrapbooking, singing, playing the oboe and French horn, and spending time with her family, friends and dogs. Grace aspires to attend medical school in hopes of becoming a trauma surgeon, and desires to put those skills to use working for a non-profit or NGO. She also hopes to advocate actively in the role of government in public health around the world, and would like to aid in the eradication of water born illness. Ultimately Grace desires to retire by opening an animal sanctuary and rescue, where she can give back to her community by helping animals in need and relaxing on a big farm. Grace states that by participating in the Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Middle East Program, she can further her knowledge of how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict effects the daily lives of the individuals, also the impact of public health and healthcare on disease of the region, as well as strengthen her cultural understanding of these foreign peoples. Grace enjoys traveling and embraces new cultures, her life goal is to provide medical care to foreign nations. She plans to conduct a panel board discussion, inclusive of speakers with varying viewpoints, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when she returns to school in the fall.

Josie Ygnatowiz

UC Berkeley

Josie grew up as a suburban nomad but if pushed for an answer, she would say home is in the deserts of Southern California next to the Joshua Trees. Currently a third year at UC Berkeley, she is pursuing a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and a B.S. in Society and Environment with a focus on culture and politics in Turkey and Kurdish territories as well as sustainability in the MENA region. She has spent two years learning Turkish, spending a summer in Turkey as a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow and a summer in Azerbaijan as a State Department's Critical Language Scholarship recipient. She was raised as a Christian Scientist and has spent her life exploring spirituality and all of its diverse manifestations. Besides doing the halay at village weddings, her favorite thing to do is attend cross-cultural and interfaith events and she hopes to gain the skills on the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship to facilitate more in-depth religious discussions and lead ally workshops on a monthly basis in her community. After graduation, she hopes to return to Turkey and pursue research or work at a non-profit organization in human rights and food security. Josie’s eclectic interests are fueled by her love for learning and helping; on her campus, she sings with the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, Disoriental, works with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies developing curriculums for high school students, is a member of the Nuclear Policy Working Group and is a recipient of the Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations where she leads a project on technology for coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms. She has worked for the International Rescue Committee in refugee resettlement before and now is involved in a mentorship program for students still living in Syria. To pay the bills, Josie is a Research and Development intern at Blue Goji, Corp. where she is helping to create a virtual reality video game focusing on child cognitive development. For fun, Josie volunteers at her campus radio station as a news broadcaster and Disc Jockey, playing music from around the world.

Noah Deane

CUNY Queens College

Noah is a junior at Queens College. He is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Food Management. While at Queens College Noah believes in making the most of his college experience and is involved in a number of activities on campus. Currently he is a fellow through the Hillel where he engages students about Israel. TAMID is a business club that Noah is a part of, it provides pro bono consulting for Israeli start-ups. While working for TAMID Noah heads a team of four other students on consulting projects as a project leader. Noah is also a teaching and research assistant for a class that teaches the Arab Israeli conflict. He is also a member of the Queens College ultimate frisbee team. Before attending Queens College Noah spent a gap year in Israel. While there he spent a semester studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a semester volunteering on a youth village in the north. Noah attended a Conservative Jewish Day School, attended a Jewish summer camp, and participated in a Jewish youth group. He was born and raised on Long Island, New York.

Rita Malo

CUNY Queens College

Rita was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to the United States when she was six years old. Her academic passions of studying ethnic and religious conflicts have been shaped by her personal experiences as an ethnic minority in Bangladesh. Currently, she is pursuing her degree in International Politics and Comparative Literature as well as minors in Arabic and Religious Studies at Queens College. As a Mellon Mays fellow, Rita is committed to the fellowship's mission of addressing unequal representation and racial disparity amongst faculty members in institutions of higher education. She is working with senior faculty members in pursuing research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her research is concentrated on the comparative politics and history of ethnicity and nationalism in South Asia and the Middle East. After graduation, she hopes to attain a PhD in Middle Eastern History and Politics and eventually teach in public institutions such as City University of New York. At Queens College, Rita is deeply invested in causes pertaining to conflict transformation and social justice. Through her involvement with the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding as a Social Dialogue Fellow, Rita facilitates public dialogues on difficult conversations and issues such as racism, gender discrimination, and immigration within the broader college community. She is also working with the Asian-American Center in raising awareness and overcoming challenges on issues affecting the culturally diverse communities within the borough of Queens. As a Student Council member, she will help launch the “Democracy in Multicultural Queens: Immigration, Race, & Social Justice” program in Fall 2017. Rita also loves to travel, read, and write. She serves as one of the editors for the Creative Outlet, a student run magazine, which publishes human rights essays, poetry, and short stories. Rita believes that the experiences that she will gain from the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue program will be unparalleled and hopes to use these skills towards her academic endeavors in graduate school and professional career. She also plans to continue working with Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding as a Social Change fellow and hold panel discussions as well as public interfaith dialogues centered on raising awareness on the various competing narratives of the Middle East.

Daniel Bucksbaum

Western Michigan University

Daniel is a student at Western Michigan University studying International and Comparative Politics and Arabic. He specializes in Middle Eastern affairs, and focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is interested in fostering interfaith relationships and mutual understanding through organized cross-cultural events. Daniel served as vice president of the Western Michigan University Hillel, and looks forward to serving as president during his senior year. Through Hillel, he strives to educate fellow students about Israel by hosting events pertaining to Israel and the conflict in the Middle East. He also organized joint Hillel-Arabic Club events to encourage relationship-building between Jewish and Muslim student communities. Daniel volunteers at the Kalamazoo Islamic Center, teaching English classes and offering support to Syrian and other refugees. Daniel has used his influence in the Hillel to educate fellow students on the plight of Syrian refugees, and the refugee community in Kalamazoo. Growing up in a reform Jewish household, exposure to Jewish culture sparked an interest in the state of Israel. His interest in Israeli politics, culture, and society grew after his Birthright trip. Going to Israel allowed him to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict directly, which lead to a new understanding of Israel and its role in the Middle East. At college he became close friends with many Arabic students from different Middle Eastern countries, and became familiarized with Arabic culture. The exposure to both Israeli and Arabic cultures, and their similarities, drove him to focus his academic studies on Middle Eastern affairs. Upon returning from the Middle East, Daniel hopes to continue bringing his fellow students together by holding workshops, inviting guest speakers to campus, and hosting interfaith events. He also plans to promote cultural and religious tolerance within his community beyond his campus. He will organize events to bring both communities together to discuss common issues such as refugee assimilation, civil rights, and bigotry in America.

Hanna Khalil

Washington University, St. Louis

Hanna is a first year student at Washington University in St. Louis studying International and Area Studies and Arabic. Originally from New York City, she was born and raised in the most ethnically diverse county in the country, which stimulated an early interest in learning about other cultures and people. As the daughter of two immigrants, her early travel experiences visiting family abroad have made her eager to explore the world and sparked her interest in international relations. Specifically, spending summers with family in Egypt sparked a deep personal connection to this complex, dynamic, and changing region that later shaped her academic and professional interests. After seeing how her own childhood experiences in Egypt did not line up with the narratives of the region most commonly found in American media, Hanna hopes to work towards bettering the relationship between these two regions and believes that by empowering Arab women, we can create positive change throughout society. Fluent in Spanish and proficient in Arabic and French, Hanna is passionate about learning languages, and views them as a stepping-stone towards cross-cultural understanding. In 2015, she was awarded the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship to study Arabic intensively in Marrakesh, Morocco while living with an amazing and welcoming host family. Having witnessed how people of varied backgrounds are more alike than they are different and can come together cohesively within her own family and within a range of communities, she hopes to use her experience on the Ibrahim Dialogue and Leadership Program to learn more about conflict resolution and how to best facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. After completing the fellowship, she plans to return to her university having developed the tools necessary for creating constructive dialogue between various cultural clubs and social justice groups on campus surrounding issues pertaining to this region. Professionally, she hopes to work either in the field of diplomacy or within organizations that have a humanitarian impact, a focus in conflict resolution, and a commitment to female empowerment. She knows that the skills and experiences she gains from participating in the Ibrahim Program will follow her wherever her career takes her and help her impact positive change in the world.

Netanya Perluss

Wellesley College

Netanya was born and raised in Los Angeles, Netanya Perluss is a sophomore at Wellesley College majoring in Middle Eastern Studies. Her passion for Middle Eastern Studies was sparked when she spent a semester abroad in Israel her sophomore year of high school. Living and learning in Israel gave Netanya a greater understanding of the complexity of the region, and a yearning to know more. This curiosity was deepened when she visited Palestine in January 2017 and encountered different and diverse narratives and experiences. Netanya’s strong Jewish identity, strengthened through years at Jewish sleep-away camp and religious school, provides her with a strong commitment to justice and contributed to her interest in politics, both in the Middle East and at home in the US. At Wellesley College, Netanya is enjoying diving deeper into the history, politics, and religions of the Middle East, as well as studying structural inequality and social policy of the United States. One of the defining aspects of her academic experience has been learning Arabic and the bond it created with her classmates. Outside of her studies, Netanya is involved with Jewish life on campus and works at the local reform synagogue, Temple Beth Elohim. Netanya also is a member of the Wellesley Whiptails Ultimate Frisbee Team, where she has earned the name Fuego thanks to her fiery hair, and of the Wellesley College Democrats. After participating in the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue program, Netanya plans to utilize her experiences to create interfaith programing on Wellesley’s campus, and is specifically interested in continuing to strengthen the relationship between Jewish and Muslim students. Netanya also is excited for the richness that her experiences will give to her continued study of the Middle East and Islam.

Noora Reffat

Yale University

Noora is a Muslim-American born and raised in a North suburb of Chicago. She is a rising junior at Yale University where she studies anthropology and pre-medicine. She is an avid researcher and currently conducts neurobiological research at the Yale School of Medicine. She has also done field research in Berlin, Germany on the Syrian refugee crisis. Along with research, she is a passionate explorer of language and culture, having spent her past summer in Rabat, Morocco studying Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and experiencing the local way of life. She is of Egyptian descent and grew up speaking a mix of Egyptian Arabic and English; additionally, she studied Spanish throughout middle school and high school. Along with her academic pursuits, Noora is involved in various extracurriculars on campus. She has done work as a liaison for the Yale Women’s Center and has also served as an ambassador for the Global Roundtable program, a derivative of the Ivy Council committed to facilitating international youth dialogue. Noora is currently a Communication and Consent Educator at Yale, working to foster a more positive sexual and social culture on campus by running educational workshops and facilitating conversations with individual communities, students, and faculty. After college, Noora hopes to attend medical school and specialize in surgery She would like to work with Doctors Without Borders in the future, and looks forward to spending her time as an Ibrahim Fellow learning about the Middle East so that she may better understand the region in which she aims to one day work.

Suher Adi

UC Berkeley

Suher is a third year student at the University of California, Berkeley double majoring in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. With both degrees she is focusing her studies on international relations and the impact of conflict resolution through foreign policy in the Middle East. Her passion for international relations with a special focus on the Middle East comes from her ethnic ties to the region and her experiences growing up as a Catholic Arab in the United States. After graduation, Suher hopes to work in the field of pubic policy and intends to use legislative advocacy to help her community. At Berkeley, she is part of the campus and state-wide level college Democrats and is an active member of the Associated Students of the University of California where she analyzes higher education policy on the local, statewide, and federal levels as it relates and impacts all students on UC Berkeley's campus. This year she also serves as the Government Relations Chair for the University of California Student Association where she sets the state and federal policy agenda for the organization which represents all 9 UC campuses. When she is not analyzing policy or helping campaign for the Democratic party, she works at the UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies where she engages with various academics about the region. This past summer she spent time in the region as a student diplomat, analyzing and understanding the multitudes of perspectives surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Using the knowledge and skills she is soon to gain on her Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship, Suher intends to make change on her campus by creating an avenue to celebrate and create dialogue and programming around the topic of diversity within the Middle East.

Frances Raybaud

CUNY Queens College

Frances is finishing her second year as a Macaulay honors student at Queens College. She studies political science, while learning Arabic and brushing up on her French on the side. Born to parents who work at the United Nations, she's been deciding how best to apply her skills in an international sense to help people for years now. She is focusing in environmental studies and the Middle East, with the ultimate goal of working to diversify oil-based economies and turn them towards renewable energy initiatives. Post-graduation, she plans to go for graduate study and then work for the United States Department of State as a foreign service officer. At Queens College, Frances is involved with the Center for Ethic, Racial and Religious Understanding as a Dialogue Fellow, and is currently working in the newest grassroots party in her student government. Through Macaulay she heads the Creative Writing club and is part of the Arts in Action community service project. As a regular volunteer at the NYC rescue mission, she prioritizes helping those less fortunate and plans to work in future towards renewable energy proliferation as not only a climate, but also a jobs initiative. Building off of the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship, Frances plans to bring multifaith and culture-based theatre and performance projects to her campus and the greater community of Queens as a way of augmenting communication between all the different walks of life she sees in New York City. Theatre has always been dear to her heart as a means of activism and education, and the skills she builds and information she learns through Ibrahim will aide her in realizing this as it relates to her own passions and concerns in a rapidly changing political landscape."

Henry Keenan

UC Berkeley

Henry is a serial traveler, sportsman, history buff, and entrepreneur. His travel experience includes trips to every continent, and he has spent significant amounts of time in California, New York, North Carolina, Nicaragua, Japan and Jordan, and his total travel experience includes 29 countries. Henry also loves languages and speaks English & Spanish fluently, while his study of Arabic is a work in progress. Henry has competed for the UC Berkeley sailing team at various regattas over the last several years. He is passionate about reading books on modern world history and he occasionally has time for a ski trip or a round of golf. Henry is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, working on a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and History. His developing expertise is on the conflict in Syria and the Levant (Jordan), focusing primarily on opportunities regarding economic redevelopment and sustainability in the region. In the fall of 2016 Henry co-founded an entrepreneurship boot camp called Startup With Purpose, which intends to provide young entrepreneurs from the Middle East and the United States to start companies in Jordan, and essential Startup hub in the region.

Nicholas Shafer

UC Berkeley

Nicholas is currently finishing his studies at Foothill College, and will be transferring the University of California at Berkeley as a double major in Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies with supporting language courses in Arabic and Russian. Born and raised in the heart of Silicon Valley, his passion for intercultural dialogue and exploration began in high school, when he fell in love with the Spanish language. After studying abroad in Spain his junior year of high school, he fell in love with traveling and decided his own path to do so. After traveling through India and Nepal, he moved to Marrakesh and started working in human development and photography while living at a synagogue. It was while living in Marrakesh that Nicholas fell in love with Moroccan culture and language, and his experience there kick-started his interest in Darija and Arabic since. Although he has had limited opportunity to study the MENA region and Arabic at Foothill College, he has traveled throughout Morocco, Algeria, and the Western Sahara and is very much looking forward to joining the Cal community and diving in as deep as he can. At Foothill, Nick is an activist and student organizer and, as President and co-founder of Use Your Voice, he has coordinated new community art & activism spaces on campus while organizing student action in the surrounding area. In addition, he is an active member of the Journalism Association and Honors Connection. Off campus, most of his free time is filled with attending community events, volunteering, language studies, backpacking, or working on his photography portfolio. While on the Ibrahim Fellowship, Nicholas hopes to connect his personal experiences in North Africa with an academic framework in the Middle Eastern context while building personal connections throughout the region. Following the end of the fellowship, he will be staying in the region to study Hebrew and Arabic before starting at Cal in the Fall. He hopes to use his unconventional and intersectional experiences to contribute to existent intercultural and interfaith dialogue programs and build new ones while launching into his studies of nationalism, migration, development and conflict resolution. He hopes to continue on into a career either in journalism or in international diplomacy with the U.S. foreign service.

Omar Khoury

University of Pennsylvania

Omar Khoury is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying Modern Middle Eastern Studies and English with a minor in Civic Studies. As a son of displaced Palestinian Christians and as an immigrant himself, Omar plans to pursue a career in international law with a specific focus on refugee and immigrant rights. It is his connection to the area and the issues arising from the Middle East that have inspired him to understand more deeply the aspects of protracted conflict and sustained instability in the region he calls home. Through his experience with ILDME and his academic curriculum at Penn, he intends to develop policy proposals aimed at addressing problems which have tarnished the Middle East’s ability to become a region in which every citizen is endowed with rights and a future of social progress. As a University of Pennsylvania Civic Scholar, Omar continues to analyze the definitions of social and civic justice at an academic and policy level and has constantly worked to pursue their implementation through working at law firms, appellate organizations, think tank research programs, and with public officials. His interest and passion for law and policy have further prompted him to join the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal and to become a dedicated professional development chair with Penn’s chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity. His desires to educate his fellow students with nuanced perspectives of the MENA region is the reason why he works with Wharton MENA Association, a group of Penn students raising awareness for the social and economic entrepreneurship of the region’s NGOs and promoting a greater understanding of the cultures that comprise the Middle East. Omar’s passions include reading, studying history, writing poetry, and travelling. He is a published poet currently curating a segment in Penn’s literary magazine, DoubleSpeak, which focuses on the poetry of refugees affected by the recent executive travel ban. Additionally, he is a writer for a start-up video productions company, Nexo Productions, where he develops and produces commercials for local businesses. Through ILDME, Omar is encouraged to educate both himself and his community so that he can present a nuanced, alternative narrative that seeks to deconstruct the present stereotypes that wrongfully define the region. He intends to utilize the connections he will make with the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Fellowship program to gain a unique insight and understanding of what justice in the Middle East means and how activists in America can advocate for it.

Wassem Ali

CUNY Queens College

At the age of three, Wassem moved from a small mountainous village in Yemen, an impoverished war-torn country in the Middle East, to the concrete jungle of NYC. He is now a junior at Queens College, double majoring in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Arabic. Outside of school, Wassem interns at one of the largest accounting firms in the world, and repairs multi-million dollar commercial aircraft at JFK airport as a part time job. Wassem is also very involved in the Muslim community. He served as the President of the Queens College Muslim Student Association for two years, and has brought about dramatic improvements to the organization. He helped organize over 70 events with some catering to over 700 attendees. Wassem has trained over 40 volunteers and has restructured the MSA into an organization that fosters mutual respect and tolerance for all by incorporating interfaith dialogues with his non-Muslim co-workers and friends. He has a passion for leadership and personal development, and often spends his free time reading books and attending workshops that help him develop those skills. Wassem enjoys exercising, reciting Quran, and making short films that bring light to the religion of Islam. One of his films has already reached over 330,000 views on YouTube.
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