In 2010, UD was selected for a record seventh time to serve as a host institution for the six-week program, a presidential directive founded to support economic, political and educational reform efforts in the Middle East and North Africa and to champion opportunity for all people of the region, especially women and youth.
Since the first MEPI program at UD in 2004, more than 120 students from the Middle East and North Africa have been welcomed to UD during the summer to participate in six weeks of academic and community service activities.
"The University of Delaware is both delighted and honored to have been awarded this program," said Lesa Griffiths, associate provost of international programs and director of UD's Institute for Global Studies. "It is a pleasure to spend time with the MEPI students, learning about their culture as they study ours! We know real leaders will emerge and put what they learn into practice when they return home."
Meriem Meziri, a student from Annaba, Algeria,
who is currently a second-year student studying
the English language at Badji Mokhar
University, said her favorite part of the
program was "the teachers at the
University of Delaware — they are
amazing. To be honest, I feel honored and
so happy to have attended their classes.
They are so challenging and you never get
bored in any class.
"I also loved the campus," Meziri noted. "Everything is close and easily accessible, with good places to hang out and relax with friends. We all loved Main Street and are thinking about applying to graduate school there. UD became our second home."
Meziri said that when she found out she had been assigned to the University of Delaware, she "did some research about it and about the state. I had some historic knowledge and saw that it was a nice little state.
"When we went there, I found out that it is really beautiful, green and being small was actually a good thing because we could go to different states in a short amount of time. I have to say that I fell in love with Delaware. I find it really charming and beautiful, with great people."
Ali Salim Abood Alshati, a fourth-year medical student studying at Baghdad University College of Medicine, got involved with MEPI through the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, applying over the Internet, and said that he had not heard about the University of Delaware before he left for the program.
"When I arrived and finished my MEPI program, I knew I was one of the luckiest to be in it. My ideas were completely changed about it, and I really wish to continue studying there."
Alshanti said he enjoyed all the "wonderful friendships that I made with many friends and from different countries."
Sarah Merie, a student from Jordan currently studying industrial engineering at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, said she loved "the people I met, without a doubt. The combination of people was perfect ‚Äî the professors, the mentors, the American students we met and the other great MEPIs who shared the experience with me.
"I never thought I would have friends from the Middle East and from America who feel closer to me than the people I grew up with," Merie said, noting that after she visited the University of Delaware, she "fell in love with it."
Merie said she enjoyed "those things on the UD campus that give it that personalized feel, like 'Mentors' Circle.' The idea is so simple yet so beautiful, to see the name of that professor you admired for so long in that circle and to know that he was appreciated for all the great work he has done. You can't help but feel good."
Of the UD faculty, Merie said, "The professors were among the best I have ever seen. The way they challenged us and encouraged us to think critically and question our realities is something I appreciate more than you can imagine.
"The discussions were not limited only to the classroom, we enjoyed political and philosophical discussions with our friends and mentors every chance we got. I have never associated memories of going out for Italian with discussions about U.S. foreign policy until this past summer."
Soufiane Adrane, a 23-year-old graduate student from Meknes, Morocco, who is studying "Communications in Contexts," said he was excited to come to America to study after knowing and working with Americans for almost five years in Morocco.
"I didn't actually know much about Delaware back then, and yet once I knew I was assigned to the University of Delaware, I did some research on it and it was interesting to discover many things about the state, and particularly Newark and the University."
Adrane said he "enjoyed every second I spent at the University of Delaware. I was born and grew up in a very tiny little village in the middle of nowhere in my country; therefore the fact of being in the U.S., and specifically in Delaware, was a very wild shift in my life, so everything was new to me.
"What I enjoyed the most in my stay was the quality and the professionalism of education at the University of Delaware," he noted. "It was a real privilege for me to be taught by outstanding professors who did everything they could to teach us a huge amount of knowledge in a very short period of time. For that I shall always be grateful."
Early on in the program, Andrade said, the MEPI students had an ice cream break and their professor asked if they were homesick. "I never felt homesick while in the United States, but I definitely do now," he wrote from Morocco.