Connecting Cultural Dots

Jessica Proett

Jessica Proett ’13
MA in Middle East and Islamic Studies

I was born in Denver, Colorado, USA, and lived in Colorado my whole life. Through my college study-abroad programs I got the opportunity to study in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2006 and Seville, Spain in 2007. I moved to Seville after I graduated and lived there working as a teacher from 2008-2010. After Spain, I moved to Los Angeles, California where I worked at the Levantine Cultural Center (a non-profit Middle Eastern arts organization aimed at bridging divides through educational and artistic programming). In 2011, I moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to teach again and to continue studying Arabic (a language I began studying at the Levantine Center).

I had a friend who left Saudi Arabia a year before me to enroll in this same MA program at AUP; she spoke very highly of the program and professors. I came to visit her and sat in on a few classes which gave me a strong desire to study in the program. I chose this program because I wanted to give myself a framework for reflecting on and talking about all that I had experienced living in the Middle East. Through sitting in on these classes I could tell from the professors' stances that the classes were taught in a way that emphasized human dignity over political agenda. The faculty highlighted nuance in history which is very important when studying an area as politically-charged as the Middle East. The final reason for choosing AUP was the close proximity to Spain where I had previously lived and the classes and research project allowed me the flexibility of studying Islamic Spain in more depth. I moved directly from Saudi Arabia to Paris in 2012 to start the Master’s program in Middle East and Islamic Studies at AUP.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have met and made friends with classmates and professors from all over the world at AUP!  Before coming to AUP I felt that the more cultures you live in, the more worlds open up inside you. As much of a blessing as that is, it can also often create a sense of isolation due to the fact that few people will have your same combination of cultural memory, linguistic understanding, and overall interests. At AUP there were so many people who had lived multicultural international lives that it was invigorating to learn from and share with one another; it broke that sense of isolation in me by helping me to embrace my own unique experiences and enabling me to reflect on them with like-minded people.

Academically, I think Paris attracts passionate students and a unique and elite blend of professors. In my program, we were able to benefit from visiting professors; this was an incredible opportunity to establish contact with professors from different programs and countries and to be introduced to varying perspectives on a given area of study. Paris is an international city where I easily found people with whom I could speak both Spanish and Arabic. And, of course, Paris is an inspirational and lively city with many opportunities to feed yourself intellectually and make professional connections according to your interests. 

I will be a better, more understanding, and more compassionate world citizen because of all the knowledge imparted to me at AUP. - Jessica Proett

During my final semester at AUP, I was able to delve into my specific area of interest through my research project, allowing my love for Spain and my affinity for Middle Eastern culture to meet and come together. I was also given a Slosberg grant through AUP to travel to Seville and do research on modern memory of al-Andalus and interfaith relations at the local university, mosques, churches, and other related NGOs. All of this led me down my path of greatest interest and passion, which in turn, helped open up opportunities for doctoral programs where I was admitted to do research on this subject. Although I decided not to pursue doctoral study next year for outside personal reasons, perhaps I will go back to study Al-Andalus' legacy and  the modern historiography of Islamic Spain sometime in the future. If not, my studies at AUP will have greatly enriched my life and opened up several other opportunities, one of which includes my current job as a bilingual school-teacher. Without a doubt, I will continue to use the things I learned at AUP about sociology, world history, religion, and intercultural understanding/misunderstanding for betterment in my daily life and within my community in the years to come. My masters was the best investment of my life and a time I will always cherish.

The thing I value most about AUP are the extraordinary professors in the Middle East and Islamic Studies program. I am blessed to have benefited from their knowledge! I often feel myself recalling certain lectures and how they relate to current events or experiences. The moments in history, key figures, and provocative questions addressed in classes gave me so much knowledge in such a limited space of time. My program was well-structured in the key points it focused on and well-taught- I truly learned and remember the material because of the passion and relevance with which the professors taught us. I feel I will be well-prepared for my future, but even more importantly, I will be a better, more understanding, and more compassionate world citizen because of all the knowledge imparted to me at AUP.

Jessica Proett

Jessica Proett ’13
MA in Middle East and Islamic Studies

  • Miguel E Grullon

    A Journey of Growth

    We are a community of complete strangers, coming here knowing no one, yet leaving as if we have travelled the world just by befriending representatives of every corner of our societies. Read more...

    Ruby Veridiano

    Igniting Social Change in Fashion

    Many of my classes at AUP left me inspired, and confirmed that I was truly on the right path. Read more...

    Cassandra

    Second Time Lucky

    AUP was my second shot at University. I wanted to continue to meet people from all over the world and study in a more intimate class setting. Read more...

  • Shalise Barnes

    Finally, At Home in the World

    The relationships I’ve had with my professors have progressed into friendships and will allow me an advantage into the job world that I would not have at any other university. Read more...

    Ryan Blum

    From the Middle East to the City of Light

    When I reflect on my time here at AUP, I think about how much I owe my academic and personal success to the professors and staff. Read more...

    Emilie Quenensse

    Exploring LGBT Rights

    I am currently completing a 6 month internship working on the OECD’s first project on the LGBT population. This is my dream internship! Read more...

  • Erielle-cropped

    Reconnecting to Russia

    Being among such an international student body at AUP has encouraged me to become fluent in Russian and French so that I may be able to connect with the world on a deeper level. Read more...

    Kelly Nault

    Between Literature and Psychology

    I use the freedom allowed in literary work and the precision needed in psychology research to make the most of the learning opportunities I have here at AUP. Read more...

    Sarah Harper-Johnston

    A Passion For Travel

    AUP is a unique community of people from all over the world that have one thing in common – a love for traveling, exploring, and experiencing different cultures in everyday life. Read more...

  • Jean-Baptiste Matton

    From Afghanistan to AUP

    Every morning, when I walk to AUP, I cross the Atlantic Ocean. I'm a French student who has spent the last fifteen years in the French army. Read more... 

    Picture of Karina Klindtworth in Art Studio

    A Fine Arts Education

    Did you know the chemical formula to make rabbit skin glue? Twenty bucks says you don’t and you need to take this class. It is a whole new level of applied knowledge of art. Read more...

    Tania Varela

    Major Inspiration

    The courses came with a warning label. The content and the syllabi were meant to challenge the most ambitious of students, and professors made sure we knew that … but in the end, they were all extremely rewarding. Read more...

  • Picture of Alexandra Swies

    A Foothold in Fashion

    AUP had the international experience and reputation I was looking for. Fashion has always been a passion of mine, but AUP has the perfect program to turn my passion into a career. Read more...

    Picture of students on a rooftop in Morocco at sunset

    Life Through a Lens

    The kinds of things I was studying in the global communications department and in my minors only fed the fire, getting me more interested in how video worked as a medium. Read more...

    Lindsay Young

    Empowering Youth

    I decided that I wanted the experience gained through volunteering to be more than just a priority: I wanted it to be my career focus. This year at AUP, I've been able to take some important steps towards making that become a reality. Read more...

  • zeniab3

    Exploring Images, Words and Cultures

    Coming from an Arab background to an English speaking institution, I was worried whether I would be able to succeed in my classes with the language skills I had acquired in my home country, Libya. Read more...

    Catherina Reuter

    The World is Yours

    AUP brings so many different cultures together that in class discussion you don’t only learn about the readings but the world and different cultures as well. Somehow, I felt like I was starting to close a culture gap. Read more...

    Jorge France World Spif

    Academic and Artistic Balance

    Paris is a breeding ground for artistic expression, and it wasn’t long before I had established relationships that are now vital to the work that I do. Read more...

  • Perfect_Bilingual_Balance

    Perfect Bilingual Balance

    For people who are bilingual in English and French, the American University of Paris is the perfect balance – you can use English in a university structure and have French as your everyday experience. Read more...

    Sarah Root

    Small Fish, Big Pond

    Back home, I'd reached the peak of what I could do in my field, and I knew I wanted to aim higher than that. I wanted to go out there and become a global citizen not just imagine myself as one. Read more...

  • Miguel E Grullon

    A Journey of Growth

    We are a community of complete strangers, coming here knowing no one, yet leaving as if we have travelled the world just by befriending representatives of every corner of our societies. Read more...

  • Ruby Veridiano

    Igniting Social Change in Fashion

    Many of my classes at AUP left me inspired, and confirmed that I was truly on the right path. Read more...

  • Cassandra

    Second Time Lucky

    AUP was my second shot at University. I wanted to continue to meet people from all over the world and study in a more intimate class setting. Read more...

  • Shalise Barnes

    Finally, At Home in the World

    The relationships I’ve had with my professors have progressed into friendships and will allow me an advantage into the job world that I would not have at any other university. Read more...

  • Ryan Blum

    From the Middle East to the City of Light

    When I reflect on my time here at AUP, I think about how much I owe my academic and personal success to the professors and staff. Read more...

  • Emilie Quenensse

    Exploring LGBT Rights

    I am currently completing a 6 month internship working on the OECD’s first project on the LGBT population. This is my dream internship! Read more...

  • Erielle-cropped

    Reconnecting to Russia

    Being among such an international student body at AUP has encouraged me to become fluent in Russian and French so that I may be able to connect with the world on a deeper level. Read more...

  • Kelly Nault

    Between Literature and Psychology

    I use the freedom allowed in literary work and the precision needed in psychology research to make the most of the learning opportunities I have here at AUP. Read more...

  • Sarah Harper-Johnston

    A Passion For Travel

    AUP is a unique community of people from all over the world that have one thing in common – a love for traveling, exploring, and experiencing different cultures in everyday life. Read more...

  • Jean-Baptiste Matton

    From Afghanistan to AUP

    Every morning, when I walk to AUP, I cross the Atlantic Ocean. I'm a French student who has spent the last fifteen years in the French army. Read more... 

  • Picture of Karina Klindtworth in Art Studio

    A Fine Arts Education

    Did you know the chemical formula to make rabbit skin glue? Twenty bucks says you don’t and you need to take this class. It is a whole new level of applied knowledge of art. Read more...

  • Tania Varela

    Major Inspiration

    The courses came with a warning label. The content and the syllabi were meant to challenge the most ambitious of students, and professors made sure we knew that … but in the end, they were all extremely rewarding. Read more...

  • Picture of Alexandra Swies

    A Foothold in Fashion

    AUP had the international experience and reputation I was looking for. Fashion has always been a passion of mine, but AUP has the perfect program to turn my passion into a career. Read more...

  • Picture of students on a rooftop in Morocco at sunset

    Life Through a Lens

    The kinds of things I was studying in the global communications department and in my minors only fed the fire, getting me more interested in how video worked as a medium. Read more...

  • Lindsay Young

    Empowering Youth

    I decided that I wanted the experience gained through volunteering to be more than just a priority: I wanted it to be my career focus. This year at AUP, I've been able to take some important steps towards making that become a reality. Read more...

  • zeniab3

    Exploring Images, Words and Cultures

    Coming from an Arab background to an English speaking institution, I was worried whether I would be able to succeed in my classes with the language skills I had acquired in my home country, Libya. Read more...

  • Catherina Reuter

    The World is Yours

    AUP brings so many different cultures together that in class discussion you don’t only learn about the readings but the world and different cultures as well. Somehow, I felt like I was starting to close a culture gap. Read more...

  • Jorge France World Spif

    Academic and Artistic Balance

    Paris is a breeding ground for artistic expression, and it wasn’t long before I had established relationships that are now vital to the work that I do. Read more...

  • Perfect_Bilingual_Balance

    Perfect Bilingual Balance

    For people who are bilingual in English and French, the American University of Paris is the perfect balance – you can use English in a university structure and have French as your everyday experience. Read more...

  • Sarah Root

    Small Fish, Big Pond

    Back home, I'd reached the peak of what I could do in my field, and I knew I wanted to aim higher than that. I wanted to go out there and become a global citizen not just imagine myself as one. Read more...

  • Paris Summer School Design Workshop

    The Paris Summer School in Design

    The Paris Summer School in Design at AUP gives students a unique chance to participate in an international teaching–led research workshop on design and performance. Read more...

    mouse

    Online Privacy: the PRIPARE project

    A woman enters a liquor store. Within seconds, the man behind the counter has figured out her name, where she lives and her birthday. Read more...

    Shadows

    Warhol's Shadows

    This fall, a landmark exhibit of Warhol’s work is opening at the Musée d’Art Moderne, co-curated by Professor Hervé Vanel. Read more...

  • Jura

    Food and Culture

    Nibbling on a piece of rich, milky, nutty cheese might have more cultural implications than you think. Read more...

    Varda

    Varda from 4 to 6

    “Marie Regan, c’est Agnès Varda!” Professor Marie Regan had just received a voicemail from reknown filmmaker Agnès Varda and was playing it back to students. Read more...

    Drawing

    The Language of Drawing

    Tired of studying art through slide projections? Come to AUP and learn from sitting in front of the original works themselves. Read more...

  • Opera Garnier

    Paris Through its Architecture

    What course enables you to discover Paris' rich architectural history while bonding with fellow students? Read more…

    bouquiniste

    Summer Creative Writing Institute

    The Summer Creative Writing Institute offers students the opportunity to practice writing well-crafted fiction and literary nonfiction under the guidance of highly accomplished writers. Read more...

    Eagle

    AUP’s webzine “Nature and Cultures”

    Professor Oleg Kobtzeff recently published the first issue of the webzine he created along with AUP colleagues, alumni and students. Read more...

  • Macarons-Workshop

    Macaron and Chocolate Making Workshop

    Each year, students of French Language and Culture of Elementary Level 1 make a visit to the macaron and chocolate making workshop of French patissier Gerard Mulot. Read more...

    Paris

    Cultural Mapping in Paris

    Associate Professor Stephen Sawyer recently received attention following the results of his research project on Paris. Read more...

    Naz-Oligarchy

    Billionaires in World Politics

    Professor Hägel has developed a course that combines a research seminar with watchdog activism in order to scrutinize the power of the ultra-wealthy: “billionaireswatch.org”. Read more...

  • Picture of Proust and Beckett Book

    Proust and Beckett

    In “Proust and Beckett: The Art of Failure,” students read a selection of works from both authors, who are undoubtedly two of the twentieth century’s major prose writers, and explore their stories through museums and exhbitions. Read more...

    Fez

    Fez Practicum

    The Fez practicum takes students to Fez, Morrocco to provide them with training in cross-media platforms and an introduction to the workings of cultural and social life in an unusual and complex historic city. Read more...

    Picture of student filming

    Video Production

    Over the course of the semester, the student pairs learn their way around HD cameras, microphones, and the ins and outs of the editing program Final Cut Pro in order to produce two video projects. Read more...

  • Picture of students and visitors in the Louvre

    Les Jeunes ont la Parole

    The program's goal is to enter into dialogue with Louvre visitors around a work of art. The program was conceived to draw youth into what are often perceived as discouragingly daunting walls. Read more...

    Fashion Journalism

    Fashion Journalism

    The course prepares students to write about various aspects of fashion, ranging from trend forecasting, sustainability, street styles, graphic design and business. Read more...

    Picture of bookshelf

    Paris Through its Books

    Students take advantage of the University’s location to visit the ruins of Roman baths, the sewers through which Hugo’s Jean Valjean escaped and the former locations of palaces and barricades. Read more...

  • Paris Summer School Design Workshop

    The Paris Summer School in Design

    The Paris Summer School in Design at AUP gives students a unique chance to participate in an international teaching–led research workshop on design and performance. Read more...

  • mouse

    Online Privacy: the PRIPARE project

    A woman enters a liquor store. Within seconds, the man behind the counter has figured out her name, where she lives and her birthday. Read more...

  • Shadows

    Warhol's Shadows

    This fall, a landmark exhibit of Warhol’s work is opening at the Musée d’Art Moderne, co-curated by Professor Hervé Vanel. Read more...

  • Jura

    Food and Culture

    Nibbling on a piece of rich, milky, nutty cheese might have more cultural implications than you think. Read more...

  • Varda

    Varda from 4 to 6

    “Marie Regan, c’est Agnès Varda!” Professor Marie Regan had just received a voicemail from reknown filmmaker Agnès Varda and was playing it back to students. Read more...

  • Drawing

    The Language of Drawing

    Tired of studying art through slide projections? Come to AUP and learn from sitting in front of the original works themselves. Read more...

  • Opera Garnier

    Paris Through its Architecture

    What course enables you to discover Paris' rich architectural history while bonding with fellow students? Read more…

  • bouquiniste

    Summer Creative Writing Institute

    The Summer Creative Writing Institute offers students the opportunity to practice writing well-crafted fiction and literary nonfiction under the guidance of highly accomplished writers. Read more...

  • Eagle

    AUP’s webzine “Nature and Cultures”

    Professor Oleg Kobtzeff recently published the first issue of the webzine he created along with AUP colleagues, alumni and students. Read more...

  • Macarons-Workshop

    Macaron and Chocolate Making Workshop

    Each year, students of French Language and Culture of Elementary Level 1 make a visit to the macaron and chocolate making workshop of French patissier Gerard Mulot. Read more...

  • Paris

    Cultural Mapping in Paris

    Associate Professor Stephen Sawyer recently received attention following the results of his research project on Paris. Read more...

  • Naz-Oligarchy

    Billionaires in World Politics

    Professor Hägel has developed a course that combines a research seminar with watchdog activism in order to scrutinize the power of the ultra-wealthy: “billionaireswatch.org”. Read more...

  • Picture of Proust and Beckett Book

    Proust and Beckett

    In “Proust and Beckett: The Art of Failure,” students read a selection of works from both authors, who are undoubtedly two of the twentieth century’s major prose writers, and explore their stories through museums and exhbitions. Read more...

  • Fez

    Fez Practicum

    The Fez practicum takes students to Fez, Morrocco to provide them with training in cross-media platforms and an introduction to the workings of cultural and social life in an unusual and complex historic city. Read more...

  • Picture of student filming

    Video Production

    Over the course of the semester, the student pairs learn their way around HD cameras, microphones, and the ins and outs of the editing program Final Cut Pro in order to produce two video projects. Read more...

  • Picture of students and visitors in the Louvre

    Les Jeunes ont la Parole

    The program's goal is to enter into dialogue with Louvre visitors around a work of art. The program was conceived to draw youth into what are often perceived as discouragingly daunting walls. Read more...

  • Fashion Journalism

    Fashion Journalism

    The course prepares students to write about various aspects of fashion, ranging from trend forecasting, sustainability, street styles, graphic design and business. Read more...

  • Picture of bookshelf

    Paris Through its Books

    Students take advantage of the University’s location to visit the ruins of Roman baths, the sewers through which Hugo’s Jean Valjean escaped and the former locations of palaces and barricades. Read more...