Skip to content

Undergraduate News

Camel Rides and Dips in the Dead Sea

Will Gilman in Jordan
Will Gilman in Jordan

In spring semester 2016, Will Gilman studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, through International Studies Abroad taking courses in Middle Eastern history and politics, as well as Arabic. Will experienced crusader castles, ancient Roman ruins, swimming in the Dead Sea, scuba diving in the Gulf of Aqaba, and got to ride a camel in the desert of Wadi Rum.

Will also had the opportunity to pursue an independent study examining military interventions in the Middle East in addition to his classes on foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. This immersive environment intensified his studies and greatly reinforced his understanding of regional, cultural, and political issues.

Will said the opportunity to live in a country that reflects so many global challenges was both fascinating and illuminating. The challenges of limited water resources, influxes of refugees, and security concerns were concurrent with a vibrant, modern city with incredibly welcoming people. It is no surprise he said his experience was profoundly impactful and truly enhanced his studies and education.

Insuring Nuclear Security

Even our students have been involved in talking with policy makers about real issues. In December 2015, Amnah Ibraheem, who recently graduated and is now in our PhD program, was a member of an Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratories (ORNL) lead team tasked with engaging technical counterparts from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi. 

Funded by the Partnership for Nuclear Security (a Department of State program), the purpose was to visit the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). The project in the UAE focused on an interactive workshop with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) as well as a bi-lateral visit with the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). The workshop with ENEC centered on sharing lessons learned from the international nuclear community, sharing best practices and small group exercises promoting nuclear security awareness and adoption of a strong nuclear security culture.

Amnah’s job was to speak with the Emirati employees, many of whom were women, and listen to their needs and assessments of their site. She was charged with finding out how they perceive risk and how they assess the nuclear security strengths and vulnerabilities of the site and the corporate offices. Interesting outcomes included their perception of risk, approach to “security culture” while embracing national culture, and the need for greater transparency not only within the UAE, but globally. Through the program, ORNL continues to engage with counterparts from ENEC and FANR as the UAE continues to develop their nuclear power infrastructure. Amnah returned valuable lessons about government policies; real world politics and the difficulties of international cooperation building; and nuclear politics, policy, and diplomacy.

A Foreign Service Experience

Over the summer of 2016, Benjamin Bergman (Class of 2018) served as a member of the 2016-2017 US Foreign Service Internship Program. Ben was one of twenty-one university students selected nationwide to participate in the two-year paid internship program.

The program is comprised of two summer internships with the US Department of State. Students spend the first summer in Washington D.C., and the second summer at a US embassy abroad. After undergoing a month of specialized foreign service training in DC, Ben started his internship with the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Ben worked in the Bureau’s Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Office where he handled various tasks related to press engagement, public outreach, and online presence both domestically and abroad. While his placement for next summer is still uncertain, Ben will likely be stationed at the US Embassy in Burma, Sri Lanka, or Montenegro, where he will continue to serve as a US State Department intern.


The 2016-17 US Foreign Service Interns with Secretary of State John Kerry. Ben is pictured third from the left on the back row.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.