"Graduates" of MEPI program assume leadership roles at home, school

"Graduates" of MEPI program assume leadership roles at home, school
July 2, 2008

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

Razan Aziz, a student from Palestine, helped to organize a bicycle rally for women across Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan in support of women’s rights. Bahrain’s Faten Bushehri, while completing her education in the United States, participated in the Harvard National Model United Nations. Elie Mouawad, a student from Lebanon, has created a blog for other Lebanese youth to speak out about the situation in their country. Small steps? Maybe. But a few years ago, even these steps would have been unthinkable. Aziz, Bushehri and Mouawad are among the nearly 100 students from the Middle East who have participated in the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders program at Benedictine University. Benedictine is one of only six U.S. universities which host students from this program. The Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders seeks to promote a better understanding of the U.S. abroad and help to develop future world leaders. Through the program, students explore the principles of democracy and fundamental American values such as individual rights, freedom of expression, tolerance and volunteerism. “This program is a terrific opportunity for the future leaders of the Middle East to develop an understanding of our society, politics and culture,” said Tammy Sarver, Ph.D., associate professor of Political Science and academic director of the MEPI program at Benedictine University. The students come from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia and Palestine. They live on Benedictine’s campus through early August and participate in academic seminars, community service projects and cultural tours. “It’s a large network of students and future Arab leaders spiced up by an intensive American experience,” Mouawad said. Eighteen more student-leaders from the Middle East and North Africa will arrive at Benedictine University on Monday, July 7 to begin a five-week stay. They will take part in a number of service projects and programs designed to promote cooperation and an open format for dialogue among their group. Students will be volunteering at organizations such as the Morton Arboretum and Habitat for Humanity, and will be visiting various examples of exemplary leadership ranging from Accenture to the University of Chicago Hospital. Students will also participate in study trips to Washington D.C., San Francisco and Boston. At 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 28, students will talk about various topics regarding critical issues in the Middle East and North Africa in a community forum that is open to the public. For more information on the MEPI program, contact the International Programs Office at (630) 829-6342 or e-mail the office at intcenter@ben.edu.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.