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Middle East

Read the stories of our alumni specialized in the Middle East here.

Lisa Heite

Alumni dreams #168

In the BA International Studies Lisa Heite highly valued the multidisciplinary character and the possibility to tailor the various courses and extra-curricular options to her own interests. During her last semester, Lisa did an internship at Karama Europe, an NGO for human rights and women’s rights mainly focused on the Middle East! This gave her practical experience in working closely with the region she specialised in during the Bachelor.

After her BA Lisa did an internship at NATO, working on information management with NATO partners. Her regional specialisation helped a lot here, too, but also the minor in Global Affairs, which she did during her elective credits space.

Currently she is doing the International Organisation track of the Master in Political Science at Leiden University in The Hague, with the aim of working for an international organisation after graduation.

Enjoy your achievements, further development and following your aspirations Lisa! Here she is celebrating her graduation in the Pieterskerk in Leiden!

Stanimira Ruseva

Alumni dreams #172

Since graduation Stanimira Ruseva has been taking the MSc Political Science with international organisation specialisation at Leiden University, through which she is obtaining in-depth insights into policy making on a national, EU and international level.

She also received her Honours certificate upon the completion of the Tackling Global Challenges track for which Stanimira interned at the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA), in the Directorate for European Coordination, International Collaboration and Projects.

For over a month now she expresses having the honour of being a trainee at KARAMA Europe in the Hague! KARAMA is a network of women in the Middle East & North Africa, linking NGO's from the region. Through KARAMA she is involved in advocating for women rights, working on conflict prevention, peace talks and opposing violent extremism.

In order to deepen her knowledge in that field, she is aiming to start the MSc of Crisis and Security Management next Spring. So her objective is to complete both masters by the end of next year.

Way to master knowledge of IR, IO and security Stanimira, enjoy your learnings and practical impact! Here she is enjoying leisure time in Paris!

Soraya Shawki

Alumni dreams #174

After graduation with Middle East as Area specialization Soraya Shawki travelled through Morocco for two months with AIESEC, which was a blast! Now she is interning at political party Democrats 66 (D66 International) where she is helping organize and setting up projects.

Soraya is also the President of the foundation Reach & Teach which she co-founded. In addition she joined as Board Member External Communication of the BAIS Alumni Association.

She says through the BA she built critical thinking skills, the ability to swiftly manoeuver in an international setting and public speaking. The PRINS course really helped her with project coordinating while working together as well as on her own.

After her internship at D66 International and before pursuing a master’s, she will start as an intern Communication (Migration and Human Rights) at Justice & Peace The Netherlands, an NGO empowering change makers.

Very wonderful and productive Soraya! Here she is being awesome in Marrakech!

Chiara Jancke

Alumni dreams #187

Chiara Jancke graduated with cum laude and a Middle East specialization and continued to pursue her passion in international relations and foreign policy by interning with Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Washington. She was able to use knowledge gained through her BA while addressing complex contemporary issues e.g. Iran sanctions, developments in Syria and the war in Yemen.

After an exciting time in D.C. she moved to Amman, Jordan to work on another issue of great importance to her - helping refugees. As co-founder of the refugee foundation Reach & Teach she furthered her experience working with refugees at UNRWA HQ in Amman interning at the Relief and Social Services Department while researching barriers to higher education in Jordan for Syrian refugees at the Center for Strategic Studies - University of Jordan.

Throughout she used and further improved her Arabic. Chiara will now continue studies with a Master’s in Conflict, Security and Development at the War Studies Department at King's College London.

Truly admirable Chiara! Here she is being happy at the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen in Amman, after interviewing Special Envoy Martin Griffith!

​​​​​​​Alumni dreams #188

After finishing her BA with specialization in the Middle East, Siham Alatassi started a master in Crisis and Security Management at Leiden University and wrote her thesis on state terrorism in Syria. Throughout her studies Siham first worked at a Dutch NGO that helps Syrian new comers integrate with the Dutch society and then worked as a team leader at LUCIS (Leiden University Center for the study of Islam and Society) where she organized various events, conferences, and workshops about the Middle East and Islam.

After this she started a job at Shell as an infrastructure project manager. In addition Siham tries to keep in touch with her passion for voluntary work and is committed to the mission of raising awareness about the situation in her country, Syria, and about women and war in general.

Having studied civil engineering in Syria before moving to the Netherlands, Siham was able to fulfill her dream of studying politics thanks to the BA program at Leiden University, which encouraged her to think critically and think outside the box. She dreams to one day return to Leiden University as a lecturer. Here she is already practicing this role. Go Siham!

Rosa Seidler

Alumni dreams #189

 Rosa Seidler is a Health Policy Trainee at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. Her BA led to a global health focus, discovering interests in gender inequality, authoritarian politics and forced migration, which impact individual and societal health indicators. She published her essay from the course Philosophy of Terrorism, on the role of sexuality in contemporary dictatorships in Health21 with the help of Rico Sneller!

In her MSc Global Health Policy at The University of Edinburgh her International Studies BA allowed to see health challenges as knock-on effects of political and social developments and she published her BA Thesis (8.6 cum laude) on high incidence of C-sections in Turkey (Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography, forthcoming). With the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, she did her MSc thesis on the effect of menstrual health product regulation on consumers, manufacturers and donors and received the Edinburgh Award for Professional Development – Public Engagement!

She also joined fellow experts and NGOs at the Inspire conference in Athens, to discuss the anti-gender movement, medical abortions and SRHR developments. Brilliant Rosa! Here she is happily on her path!  

Alumni dreams #208

After graduating, Christos Papalouka pursued a master’s at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies focusing on Security and Power, Conflict and Development. His passion for MENA only increased and he continued to focus research on the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader MENA region.

He did an exchange at the American University in Cairo meeting and working with Egyptian diplomats and ambassadors. He used his time there to conduct interviews for thesis on security and multilateralism in the Eastern Mediterranean. On two occasions during his time in Geneva he also worked at the mission of Cyprus to the United Nations during the Human Rights Council.

Currently Christos is working as a Blue Book Trainee at the European External Action Service at the MENA Directorate, dealing mainly with the geopolitics around the region as well as the EEAS’ new initiatives.

He says he is grateful for the BA as it has prepared him well by providing knowledge, and academic discipline while also allowing to specialize in the MENA region. However most importantly he is thankful because through Leiden he made lifelong friendships that are just as strong today as when he was still a student.

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