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Mideast Trip Gives LMU Study Abroad Administrator a New Perspective

Kathleen Harris - OmanThis past summer, Kathleen Harris LLS ’07 put herself in a role she usually creates for students.  She traveled to Oman and Jordan from June 22 – July 26 as a participant in the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program.

“I’m a junkie for international experiences. My journey will hopefully open up the way for others, and reveal new destinations for students and international scholarships,” said Harris, who is the director of the National and International Scholarship Office at Loyola Marymount University.

The Fulbright-Hays program is designed for educators and administrators who are responsible for curriculum development in the humanities, languages, and area studies. Topics and host countries of the seminars vary from year to year, and all seminars are in non-Western European countries.

“There were people from all over the world, from political scientists to second-language learners. I benefited the most from this diversity because I learned from whatever everyone else learning about,” Harris said.

The group was hosted by AMIDEAST, a nonprofit aimed at building mutual understanding and cooperation between America and peoples from North Africa and the Middle East. Activities included a lecture on political Islam and popular movements in Jordan, visiting with an Oman Chief Justice and Associate Justice and attending a film festival organized by the Jordanian Royal Film Commission. Participants also took daily Arabic language classes. Harris said she wanted to take advantage of every opportunity.

“I love to travel; it’s almost a compulsion. You learn who are when you travel, and understand your true self,” Harris said. “Happiness is when I have a plane ticket in my hand.”

Upon her return, Harris has been developing a co-curricular program that will be presented several times throughout the academic year. She said she hopes her experience will open the door for future Fulbright scholars.

“It’s interesting because I was a scout for students I don’t even know yet. This trip would not be significant on my own, it’s meant to be the first of many for the university,” Harris said. “Every student, faculty and administrator should apply for a Fulbright scholarship.”

Photo: Kathleen Harris on the beach in Salalah, Oman.

Posted Nov. 2, 2009