Zakiya Newman ’17 spent the last school year at King’s Academy in Jordan, participating in a program called “Arabic Year.” Deerfield is closely connected with King’s: King Abdullah II ’80, founded the school because his years at Deerfield led him to “imagine what a Jordanian boarding school might do for boys and girls across the Middle East.”
Additionally, Deerfield’s previous headmaster, Eric Widmer ’57, left DA to become the first headmaster of King’s in 2006. Since then, Deerfield and King’s Academy have maintained an active exchange program.
Newman started Arabic I in her sophomore year at DA and felt that spendng a year in Jordan would be a great opportunity to improve her Arabic-speaking skills.
In addition to advancing in the Arabic language, Newman was also able to explore Middle Eastern culture.
Coming back to Deerfield this year, she reflected, “I miss listening to Arabic music and everyone knowing the songs.” She added, “I love Deerfield, but it’s really weird not having Jordanian food.”
Newman also highlighted the new ways in which she encountered religious diversity in Jordan: “I was sitting in the dining hall, with myself, a Christian, an atheist, a devout Muslim, and we were all talking about religion… that’s something you wouldn’t really find at Deerfield.”
King’s Academy and Deerfield have had a strong relationship for over 20 years. However, recent international events have called into question whether global programs like Arabic Year and School Year Abroad (SYA) are still safe for students.
Will Morgan ’17, who spent the last school year in France through the SYA program, believes that the benefits of attending programs abroad greatly outweigh the perceived risks.
Morgan mentioned, “if you are interested in going, you shouldn’t let [terrorism] deter you… people are scared to go off into the world, but it was a really cool experience, and the risk of [terrorism] is so low.”
Newman added, “I felt much more safe being in the Middle East rather than being in America. There was a point when there were over 100 shootings in America, while in Jordan there were maybe 2.”
Newman would encourage anyone to travel to Jordan. She mentioned, “You don’t have to actually want to learn Arabic to visit Jordan… in Jordan there’s something for everybody.”