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Princeton in the Middle East program to send postgraduate fellows abroad

The Princeton in the Middle East program will send postgraduate fellows to the Middle East and North Africa next year as part of its new independent initiative and partnership with Endeavor, a nonprofit organization that sends entrepreneurs around the world.

In 2012, PriME was launched under the Princeton in Africa program to send recent graduates to the Middle East and North Africa region to acquire real work experience. Modeled after other similar programs such as Princeton in Asia, Princeton in Africa and Princeton in Latin America, PriME sent a fellow — Wilson School graduate Tal Eisenzweig ’12 — to Rabat, Morocco in 2012-13.

The program is partnering with Endeavor to create two fellowship positions for recent University graduates in 2014-15.

The program is currently interviewing applicants for the 2014-15 fellowship.

The administration overseeing the program is comprised of a steering committee and an advisory board. As described by Stanley Katz, Woodrow Wilson School professor and member of the advisory board, the program “is an attempt to make it possible for Princeton students to spend time in the region to do something useful and learn a lot, particularly for students who have a longer term interest in the region.”

Colleen McCullough ’12, one of PriME’s founding members, said that during her time as an undergraduate she noticed a need for postgraduate opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa.

“A lot of my friends are applying to the other ‘Princeton ins,’ ” McCullough said, referring to her senior year at the University. “A lot of us are interested in increasing opportunities for people to spend a year abroad in the Middle East, especially because more and more people are studying Arabic, majoring in Near Eastern Studies. So we started working on founding our organization.”

That same year, McCullough approached the Princeton in Africa program and sent its first fellow, Eisenzweig, to work at an independent think tank.

According to Eisenzweig, she learned of PriME during her interview with Princeton in Africa.

“At the time it was kind of joint fellowship. I was very interested because there was a gap, I perceive, in the programs being offered,” Eisenzweig said. “They are so many students who are interested in Near Eastern Studies, and yet there is no Princeton in Middle East, or was not at the time.”

During her time in Morocco, Eisenzweig helped coordinate panels for an international conference and arranged meetings between politicians regarding women’s rights. She now studies in Canada as a Fulbright Fellow on refugee issues.

PriME did not send any fellows abroad during the 2013-14 academic year.

“We were figuring out where we wanted to go. During that year I was talking more to different young alumni; that’s how I connected with the current steering committee,” McCollough said.

She said that PriME has decided to partner with Endeavor because the program would like to be more independent, rather than a subdivision of the Princeton in Africa program.

“We have really seen ourselves from the beginning as an independent organization, and we are working with Princeton in Africa sort of as a launching point for us,” McCollough said.

Adrienne Clermont ’09, another member of the steering committee, is a graduate of the Wilson School and a past Princeton in Africa fellow. Clermont said that she hopes the program will grow into a sustainable, large organization.

“Ten years ago, Princeton in Africa and Princeton in Latin America had just started and were only sending two fellows a year. See how much they grew. I think for us it’s a similar process,” she said.

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