Northeastern alumna Nina Angeles experienced a rich variety of global learning opportunities in Jordan throughout her undergraduate studies. She first co-oped at the Jordan River Foundation, a community development nongovernmental organization with a mission to engage Jordanians to meet their economic potential, in 2012. She returned to Amman, Jordan, in the summer of 2014 for a research project and began her senior year studying abroad to learn Arabic while also running an English language program for young Palestinian refugees.
In September, she will return to Jordan for a third time—thanks to her recently awarded Fulbright scholarship. For her Fulbright research, Angeles plans to leverage her background in international affairs and human services—her combined major at Northeastern—as well as the knowledge of social enterprise she gained from working with microbusinesses in South African townships, an opportunity made possible by the university’s Social Enterprise Institute. Her work will explore the impact of social enterprise on Jordan’s stateless Gaza refugees by examining how their fledgling businesses affect their ability to improve their economic standing.
“Receiving this Fulbright is a huge honor,” said Angeles, SSH’15, who is now the Social Enterprise Institute’s assistant director of programs.
Angeles is eager to return, as her previous global experiential learning opportunities there—in addition to her student involvement and current work at the Social Enterprise Institute —have shaped her undergraduate experience and her career outlook. In fact, her Fulbright work will build upon her research project, which was funded by the Office of the Provost, in which she studied two urbanized Palestinian refugee camps and observed how the business and market infrastructures of each community affected educational and employment opportunities available to youth.
I want my work to be actionable and have value for the people I’m working with. I received a great deal of hospitality when I was there before, and I want to return that. And I think I’m well positioned to do this, based on my previous experience.”
She noted that Gaza refugee women in Jordan are growing businesses out of necessity as they compete for the country’s resources with other migrant populations, who have come to Jordan due to the Iraq War and Syrian conflict. One project she will study closely is Sitti Soap Company, a female-run nonprofit operating in the Jerash “Gaza” refugee camp, and she will also be researching other social enterprise initiatives within refugee camps that operate and sustain themselves.
She hopes to better understand how social entrepreneurship can enhance refugee communities’ economic situations and how these business models can effect political and economic change for vulnerable populations. By the end of her Fulbright experience, Angeles plans to consolidate her research into a report that can be shared with agencies looking to develop cost-effective solutions in response to the refugee crisis.
“I want my work to be actionable and have value for the people I’m working with,” she said. “I received a great deal of hospitality when I was there before, and I want to return that. And I think I’m well positioned to do this, based on my previous experience.”
Prior to working with these refugee camps, Angeles will begin her Fulbright experience at the Council for British Research in the Levant Library and the Jerash Camp Community Development Office in Amman, where she will conduct research on the risk factors facing refugee women, as well as what protections are in place to support them.
Angeles also hopes to make the most of her Fulbright experience by reengaging with two social circles that she connected with during her previous travels to Jordan. One is a book club, which she hopes to rejoin after brushing up on her Arabic and Jordanian during an intense language study at the Qasid Institute. She is also excited to rejoin a choir group, Dozan wa Awtar.
“Being part of the choir was a very unique experience,” she recalled. “Culturally, it helped me understand a part of that region’s history that I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to learn about.”
Angeles noted that Fulbrighters are encouraged to engage deeply with their host communities as a part of their experiences abroad. She wants to continue expanding her established networks and connections in the region so that her work on the ground can be supported and further implemented when her Fulbright term comes to an end.
After her Fulbright work, Angeles plans to enroll in an MBA program, with the goal of pursuing a career in social enterprise.