Emily Goldman, Jiran Site Director

Emily is from West Hartford, CT and received her B.A. in  Development Studies and Middle East Studies from Brown University in 2014. Emily studied in Alexandria, Egypt with Middlebury College in 2013 and subsequently moved to Jordan, where she lived for three years working in emergency humanitarian aid and education. Emily has worked on conflict and forced displacement with a number of organizations including UNRWA, IRC, and Generations for Peace, and has served as an interpreter for the US Embassy in Jordan. Emily is also a performance artist who has worked on arts and cultural programming for psychosocial support in at-risk communities in Jordan, Egypt, various countries in Latin America, and the US. Emily returned to the Middlebury community in 2016 to serve as Resident Coordinator for the Middlebury School in Jordan from 2016-17. She is passionate about cross-cultural learning and psychosocial support for people affected by forced displacement, and she is thrilled to be applying the skills she gained abroad to build up her home community.




Maha Abdullah, Jiran Site Community Coordinator/ Arabic Instructor

Maha Abdullah is a multilingual educator, a published author, and public speaker who helps audiences bridge cultural and language differences. Born and raised in Syria, where she received her B.A. in English Language and Literature, Ms. Abdullah has been living in the US for the past 24 years.  She received her M.A. from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in English, and is a certified full-time teacher who has been working in the New Britain School District since 2010. She serves as a liaison between the school district and the local Arab and Islamic community, teaches ESL to women from the New Britain community, teaches Arabic to heritage learners in the New Britain school district, and has taught Arabic at CCSU and Wesleyan University’s high school summer program. She has been working with the Arab community in New Britain, Connecticut for more than 10 years designing educational programs and helping immigrant and refugee families, and was awarded the “The Torch of Connectedness” by the New Britain Board of Education for her work. In her spare time, Ms. Abdullah speaks on behalf of the ING (Islamic Network Group) on topics including multicultural education, linguistically diverse classrooms, and cultural competency.



Kerstin Wilsch, Jiran Middlebury Focal Point, Resident Director of the School in Jordan

Kerstin Wilsch has spent many years in the Middle East and North Africa in a variety of academic positions.  Her Ph.D. is in Arabic Language and Translation. For the four years prior to becoming the Director of the program in Jordan, Kerstin was living in Jordan, working as the Coordinator of the Translation Section at the German-Jordanian University in Amman.  Before coming to Jordan, she worked at universities in Cairo, Egypt and Tangier, Morocco. Kerstin has also taught Arabic at the University of Oxford for three years, and spent some time early in her career in Yemen. She established a course on Refugee Studies and Forced Migration at the School in Jordan in Spring 2014 at a time when no other university offered such a course. She also initiated the School in Jordan’s experiential Project Week pedagogy, through which students learn about and work on issues related to refugees in Jordan.