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Middle East Studies Announces 2023 Travel Scholarship Awardees

The Middle East Studies (MEST) program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is proud to announce the annual winners of the Arab American Club of Knoxville (AACK) Travel Scholarship to Arab countries.

The travel scholarship funds two UT undergraduate or graduate students each year to travel to an Arab country for language study, archeological digs, student research or other educational programs. The Arab American Club of Knoxville and Susan Dakak, former president of the AACK, established an endowment in 2018 which now funds the annual travel scholarship.

The two winners for academic year 2022-23 are undergraduate students Reem Wolde and Hadiya Javed.

Matt Buehler, chair of MEST, is grateful to the AACK and excited for the experiences ahead for Wolde and Javed. Buehler said, “We are so thankful that the Arab American Club of Knoxville has made this travel scholarship available for UT students. We want to give as many UT students as possible the opportunity to have a transformative, life-changing overseas experience studying in the Middle East, so they can understand the positive side of Arab culture and traditions and overturn negative stereotypes.”

Dakak is hopeful that the travel scholarship will continue to grow and offer additional opportunities to students interested in studying in Arab countries. Dakak said, “Our goal is to someday soon provide a full-ride scholarship to any student who wants to go to an Arabic-speaking country.”

Later this year, the AACK is hosting—with the support of the MEST program—the Middle East gala fundraiser on August 26 at the Cherokee Country Club, which will help to increase the number and size of its annual travel scholarships for UT students and encourage more study abroad opportunities in Arab countries.

The College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Global Engagement and eight different academic departments and offices have given just over $20,000 in financial support for the travel scholarship fundraiser. The Knoxville-area business community has contributed around $10,000 in support through business sponsorships, including a recent $5,000 donation from Yassin’s Falafel House and Seeds and Bridges.

For those interested in learning more about the Middle East Studies program, travel scholarship, or how to attend or support the Middle East gala fundraiser, contact Matt Buehler at or (503) 341-4871.

Reem Wolde is a major in political science and MEST at UT and she plans to study abroad in Jordan during the fall 2023 semester. The program she has chosen examines the geopolitics and international relations of the Middle East. She will also take Arabic classes to improve her literacy skills while strengthening her intercultural skills by immersing herself in the Jordanian culture. Reem is incredibly excited for her first ever study abroad in the Middle East experience!



Hadiya Javed is a language and world business (Arabic) major in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. She plans to travel to Amman, Jordan with the Council on International Educational Exchange program in Arabic language for nine weeks this summer. She will study modern standard Arabic and colloquial Jordanian Arabic. She is excited to immerse herself in the culture and language of the Arab world.





Jason Moody (865-974-5752,