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One Place, Three Perspectives

Three Members of Our College Reflect on Recent Visits to Amman, Jordan

A student poses with a setting sun in the background

Three members of our Pack— a professor and two students — recently journeyed to  Amman, Jordan. They traveled separately and went to pursue different goals, from studying Arabic and presenting cybersecurity research to participating in medical humanitarianism. 

However, while their experiences are unique, their trips also illustrate a singular theme: the diverse ways NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences works to understand and improve the human condition — at home and abroad.   

We caught up with our world travelers to learn more about the lessons they learned and the memories they made in Southwest Asia.

Exploring Humanitarian Aid

Aisha Mahmood, a junior majoring in genetics and international studies, received a grant to participate in a Counseling and Humanitarian Action study abroad program.

For five weeks, she interned with the Jordan Health Aid Society, an international non-governmental organization. It provides comprehensive humanitarian aid and psychosocial services to Syrian refugees.

Aisha Mahmood and a friend pose on a terrace with Amman in the background.
Mahmood at one of the clinics at the Zaatari Refugee Camp.
Mahmood and her colleague display their Jordan Health Society badges.

Mahmood, a Park Scholar and member of the Muslim Student Association, was stationed in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, located less than 10 miles from the Jordan-Syria border. The camp opened in 2021 to harbor Syrians fleeing the Syrian War that broke out a year earlier. Since then, the camp has evolved into a permanent settlement.

At Zaatari, considered among the largest camps for Syrian refugees in the world, Mahmood worked with clinicians in the pediatric, reproductive health and family planning clinics to observe the provision of healthcare in humanitarian settings. She also conducted research while at the health aid society.

“Studying and interning in Jordan helped bridge my interests in the humanities and sciences and explore the fundamentals of community-engaged health response,” she said. “I now feel a greater sense of confidence in my decision to pursue a career in medicine, and look forward to participating in relevant enrichment opportunities available at NC State.”  

Collaborating with Researchers Abroad

Chris Mayhorn is head of the psychology department and a professor in the human factors and ergonomics psychology program. He was one of 10 faculty members in the U.S. to receive funding to present research at the U.S.-Jordanian University Cooperation Network Conference.

Mayhorn presented on cybersecurity. He said the goal of his research is to develop culturally inclusive user profiles of phishing susceptibility, reflecting individual behavioral, cognitive and perceptual factors.

This profile, he added, could be used to design anti-phishing training tools to help users who are vulnerable to phishing attacks.

Professor Chris Mayhorn on his trip to Amman, Jordan.

In presenting his research, Mayhorn described his previous experiments that informed the design of the current one that will collect phishing susceptibility data from a new Jordanian sample.

“It is our hope,“ he wrote, “that any future anti-phishing training interventions that will be developed will be effective in promoting information security across cultures by recognizing our similarities and differences.”

The U.S.-Jordan Partnership for University Leadership and Student Engagement (PULSE) provided $2,500 for Mayhorn’s visit. PULSE is a pilot project to connect Jordan and U.S. universities to generate academic exchanges, research cooperation and mutual development objectives.

Immersing in Arabic Language, Culture

Anthony Ramsey is a senior double majoring in international studies and foreign languages and literatures. Ramsey spent eight weeks studying Arabic and immersing in Jordan’s culture, thanks to the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship program.

“With total immersion, I have been able to use Arabic constantly and cement elements of the language within my mind that I would be unable to do if I only studied it in the States,” Ramsey said.

The language also figures in Ramsey’s future but exactly how is uncertain. What they are sure of, however, is that living and learning in Jordan this summer will influence their NC State experience.

Anthony Ramsey floats in a sea.
Anthony Ramsey goes for a float in the Dead Sea.
Anthony Ramsey stands in front a scenic overlook
Ramsey in the town of Umm Qais overlooking Lake Tiberias.
Ramsey poses next to the Jordan River.

Ramsey plans to work with professors “to find other rigorous programs like this one.” They also intend to become more proficient in Arabic and to take classes to learn more about the culture and society of the Southwest Asia and North Africa region.

So what was Ramsey’s favorite part of the experience? Visiting the numerous historical sites Jordan has to offer, they noted.

Pursuing a double major helps Ramsey learn about the world through the human lens. For them, that means learning more about society, its issues like racism and social instability and the systems that cause those issues to persist.

“Studying abroad,” Ramsey added, “allowed me to expand my knowledge of the world.”