Sophie Lutz, a Global Affairs major, spent her Sophomore year spring break abroad through George Mason’s Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution’s program, “Fieldwork with Syrian Refugees in Jordan.” She traveled with about twenty other students, many already attending graduate programs at area universities including George Mason, Georgetown, and George Washington. Applying as a second-year student was an intimidating task for Sophie; however, support from her professors, including Professor Yasemin Ipek, gave her confidence and led to her acceptance.
Lasting memories and lifetime friendships were among her takeaways, as she witnessed and learned from the courage and resiliency displayed by the Syrian women and children in the context of war and displacement. Students traveled all over the country to visit some of the 1.4 million Syrian refugees living in Jordan. The group met and facilitated numerous workshops with some of the youngest and bravest survivors of war, and even assisted in conducting local elections in some of the women's centers they visited. “It was empowering to see promising young women interested in politics and change.”
The group had eleven guest speakers, including the Grand Mufti of Jordan, the U.S. embassy political officer, as well as other civil society, tribal and religious leaders. The dynamic discussions during political meetings incorporated international and grassroots efforts to contextualize the liberal peacebuilding process with the Syrian conflict. Sophie came back with a better understanding of the Syrian civil war, global responses, and how NGOs organize and operate in support of the refugee crisis, and highly recommends students to participate in at least one study abroad program during undergraduate years.
April 30, 2019