Samaah Al-Najjar

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major: Political Science

Samaah Al-Najjar received a Fulbright grant as an English Teaching Assistant to teach secondary school students in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Al-Najjar, who graduated from Purdue in 2019 with a BA in Political Science, grew up navigating a dual identity as a Jordanian American. Her experiences led her to an interest in international cultural exchange. Al-Najjar was active in the Purdue Model United Nations as an undergraduate, which allowed her a chance to attend two international conferences in Bogotá, Columbia. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on international migration, noting the problems of one-sided cultural exchange, in which an immigrant is expected to assimilate rather than to maintain their own cultural traditions.

Al-Najjar says, “Fulbright challenges me to bring the parts of my culture I find most important and teach it to an unfamiliar audience,” which will help her to develop a more intuitive understanding of the immigrant experience while engaging in true cultural exchange that goes both ways. Al-Najjar chose Bulgaria “for its history of blending cultures, shifting borders, and its current position in Eastern Europe at a time of mass immigration and asylum seekers.”

This Chicago native had previous teaching experience as an assistant at Purdue Village Preschool and as a summer school physics teacher for middle school students. She volunteered extensively in the community to build affordable housing with the Purdue chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Al-Najjar also spends time writing poetry and received the Bain Swigget Award for Best Single Poem at the 2019 Purdue Literary Awards.

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