MESP operates on a cohort model, which means that students take all their classes together. In addition, you will live, worship, eat and spend three weeks traveling with your fellow MESP students. Staff members are also with you every step of the way and MESP Director Dr. Doug Magnuson coordinates every class.
Doing all of these things together allows you to get the most out of your academic experience in the Middle East. You’ll have the opportunity to process what you’re learning with staff members, fellow students and even our guest lecturers, who sometimes join us for lunch. In addition, as a Christ-centered program, we seek to reflect daily on how Jesus would have us engage with the people and issues we’re studying. It’s an academic and spiritual journey as a community!
MESP is non-partisan and we believe you should be exposed to all sides of the issues we’re studying: on a regular basis, throughout the semester, MESP hosts guest speakers from across the spectrum to teach on the culture, religion and politics of the region. We want you to understand complex issues from various perspectives and decide for yourself where you stand.
To make sure we engage with students’ particular areas of interest, our speakers also examine specialized areas of the subjects we study, such as psychology, history, politics, international relations, intercultural studies, anthropology, journalism, communications, gender studies, religion, and reconciliation or peace and conflict studies. Among other amazing speakers, in recent semesters we have hosted author and historian Gershom Gorenberg; journalist and political commentator Mustafa Akyol; peace activist Robi Damelin; head of the Ramallah Friends Meeting Jean Zaru; political officers who deal directly with the Israel-Palestine conflict; members of parliament and local professors of Gender Studies, Islam, and Eastern Christianity.
When Dr. Doug lectures, you’ll want to listen up! His specialty is Intercultural Development -- teaching students to grow in how they relate to and live effectively among people from different cultures. His passion is to see students truly understand what it means to engage in another culture, not just live there as tourists. As part of the People and Cultures course, you will take the Intercultural Development Inventory and be personally mentored by Dr. Doug and Program Administrator Patti Magnuson on how to relate to local people, communicate effectively and grow in your understanding of culture as a whole. You will also be challenged to apply these principles of understanding and openness to your other courses.
In addition to the interactions you’ll naturally have while living immersed in this culture, MESP provides opportunities for you to make progress in these areas by facilitating service projects, homestays, and multiple cultural exchanges in which we pair you up with local young adults who speak English and are interested in sharing their culture with you.