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Interns 2006-2008

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Xing Ye (China) May - August 2006

It was unforgettable to intern with CIDT. The experience there has opened a door for me, who had no idea about Arab world before and now become so concerned about the issue between Christianity and Islam, even if I am not a religious person. I believe any bridge in the world trying to peacefully settle the dispute between different group of people is very honorable, though it seems unsolvable many times, what the most important is, the heart to spread love and peace around the world. Wish all success with CIDT.

Sebastian Kohn (Sweden) LSE and King’s College London, July - September 2006

I worked with CIDT in the summer of 2006. I arrived in Cairo with a keen interest in the MENA region, and the Center really helped me nourish that interest. As an intern I got a chance to significantly improve my understanding of Egyptian politics and society, and the role of religion in the region. My experience working with the Center has also been a great asset in my subsequent studies and work.

Wessam Mohammed el- Deweny (Egypt, DEDI) BSC Political Science and Computer Science, Cairo University, August 2006 - January 2007

During her internship she attended many seminars and conferences that deal with dialogue and cultural interactions.



Mia Ulvgraven (Denmark, DEDI) MA Middle East Relations, August 2006 - January 2007

My internship was part of a Master's degree in Middle East Relations. It was my first time to experience Arab culture and I did indeed learn a lot. Conversations with colleagues were one thing that gave me an eye-opening understanding of Egyptian society and the role of religion. And working with the content of Arab newspapers gave me knowledge of media discourse which has been useful for me afterwards when covering stories from the MENA region.

Farshad Avvali (Germany) BA Cultural Studies, University of Bayreuth, Sep- Nov 2006

The internship was an integral part of my academic program of Cultural Studies with a focus on religion at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. I have nothing but wonderful memories about my time - the working conditions are excellent for interns. You always have someone to assist you through the introductory period. The academic standards are very high and responsibilities are quickly transferred to you. From the very beginning I felt like a full member of the team.  Communication is highly developed and maintained by regular consultations. I also met wonderful people, always willing you assist me. The team members really believe in the aims of the organization. I got a high-quality internship with academic excellence and truly learned about intercultural skills.

Salma Anwar (Egypt, DEDI) Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, January - August 2007

For her internship she wrote biographies, Conducted interviews with figures involved in dialogue (Isam al-Irian, Tarek Heggy), Engaged in inter-cultural activities (including intercultural dialogue with European and Coptic colleagues, visiting churches and monasteries) and attended conferences and seminars.


Nushin Atmaca (Germany) BA Middle Eastern Studies, Politics and Law, Free University in Berlin, June - July 2007

After completing her studies of Middle Eastern studies, politics and law at Free University in Berlin, Nushin came to Egypt in September 2006. Until May 2007 she studied Arabic in Alexandria and after that she began a two-month internship at CIDT. Her main motivation was the idea of enabling non-Arabic speakers to have access to media originally printed and distributed in the Arabic language. During her internship, she analyzed the discussion about Article 2 of the Egyptian constitution (which states that Islam is the religion of the state) in connection with the constitutional amendments. She also worked on the index of Arab-West Report and on a biography of Dr. Ahmad Muhammad al-Tayyib, the president of the Al Azhar University. Nushin told us that during her internship she benefited greatly from working in an international team and gaining a wider understanding of the different perspectives which were present. After her internship she returned to Germany where she is now continuing her studies.

Mads Holm (Denmark, DEDI) Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Copenhagen, August - December 2007

Mads is a scholar of Arabic and Middle East Studies.  He worked as an intern from August to December 2007.  He was interested in CIDT as a means of gaining knowledge from working in a multicultural team and to learn Arabic.  His major research project involved issues of conversion in Egypt and he also reported on various other events and personalities. 

“First and foremost I have had the privilege to be allowed to write on contemporary conflicts/events in the Middle East and or concerning Muslim-Christian relations. This has meant that I have gained further knowledge on the Egyptian society and its functions and malfunctions as well."

David Grant (United States of America) BA Religious Studies and Political Science, Virginia Tech, August - December 2007

David graduated from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. in May 2009 with bachelor's degrees in Religious Studies and Political Science. While at CIDT, David worked on a research paper surveying press freedom in Egypt that involved two dozen interviews with Egyptian journalists and attending several different events, including the Journalism Ministry elections. His experience with CIDT gave him the opportunity to experience the Egyptian media scene rather than observing it from the safety of academic inquiry. After leaving CIDT, David went on to become editor of his student newspaper and interned with the Associated Press.

Mariam Fath (Egypt) “Islam and West” Culture Diversity Program, Joensuu University, December 2007

I originally volunteered to work with Drs. Hulsman in 2006 and had the chance to translate for the former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt during his visit in May that year. I applied for an internship in November 2007 and started in December with another intern from the US. CIDT organized two meetings for us to discuss our research papers, and an interview with Mr. Hisham Qassem the ex- Editor-in-Chief of al- Masry al- Youm, a liberal newspaper in Egypt. This interview was really interesting and useful for me personally. Joining CIDT was one of my goals since the center is researching in the core of my studies. I am currently studying the "Islam and West" Culture Diversity Program in Joensuu University in Finland. To obtain my master's degree I am working on "Media Watch in Egypt" researching through CIDT and the Arab West Report, besides other online resources.

Christian Fastenrath (Germany) BA Political Science and Islamic Studies, University of Tubingen, April - August 2007

Christian Fastenrath was born in Germany in 1984. In 2000/2001 he was an exchange student at a US high school. After graduating from high school in 2003, he took part in the European Voluntary Service program sponsored by the European Union and worked for one year as a language assistant in Madrid, Spain. In 2004 he commenced his studies of Political Science and Islamic Studies at the University of Tubingen, Germany. From October 2006 to March 2007 he attended an Arabic language course in Cairo organized by the German Academic Exchange Service. From April 2007 to July 2007 he was an intern with CIDT and mainly worked on a study about the legal and social conditions of church related constructions in Egypt. Since 2002, Christian regularly organizes seminars for Youth for Understanding, an international non-profit student exchange organization committed to bridging the gap between different cultures.

Katrin Koehler (Germany) University of Leipzig, February - March 2007

Being a student in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies since 2003 I worked with CIDT in February and March 2007. In the first half of my internship I indexed already published weekly issues of the years 1997, 2000 and 2006 to help building up the EDC. It was not only reading but learning about the related subjects. This included articles in all the main categories covered in Arab-West Report: Relations between the Arab/Islamic World with the non-Arab/non-Islamic World, developments in Islam in the Arab World, Muslim-Christian relations and so on.

My main research focused on a biography about the Coptic monk Matta al-Maskin which included a visit to the Monastery of St. Macarius and an interview with Father Basilius. The research included viewing several books written by Matta al-Maskin, Internet research and going through the articles in Arab-West Report since 1997 which mention him. I got to know more detailed information concerning Christian/Muslim relations and especially the Coptic Church in Egypt. From August 2007 to May 2008 I will work on my thesis about Father Matta al-Maskinï’s book Church and Stateï. Besides that I was able to do a language course (36 hours) at the Episcopal Training Center to improve my Arabic skills.

Marie Lunddhal Jensen (Denmark) MA Islamic Studies, University of Copenhagen, February - May 2007

For her internship she wrote biographies on people often mentioned in the Egyptian Press in the framework of intercultural and interfaith dialogue.  The biographies she wrote included Bishop Marcos, Tariq Rammadan, Hassan Hanafi, Flemming Rose, Amr Khaled, Jerry Falwell, Hala Mustafa, and Michael Meunier.  These biographies were written for the on-line Electronic Documentation Center.

Maria Rezzonico (Italy) Sacro Cuore Catholic University of Milan, July - September 2007

Maria Rezzonico worked full-time as an intern for (CIDT) from July 10 to September 6, 2007. Her task was to research on statistics and development of the Coptic Christian population in Egypt. Based on her research she wrote two special reports on Coptic statistics in Egypt and Coptic Orthodox Bishops addressing poverty. These reports will be published by Arab-West Report, as special reports for the Arab West Academic Papers. To carry out her research Ms. Rezzonico traveled throughout Egypt, conducted interviews in English and Arabic, and visited the main libraries in Cairo.

Ane Skov Birk (Denmark, DEDI) University of Copenhagen, January - August 2007

Ane Skov Birk worked mainly writing biographies of personalities important to Arab-West and Muslim-non-Muslim dialogue.  She also wrote many articles for the electronic Arab West Report.  She conducted interviews, attended seminars, conferences, and meetings.


Clare Turner (Scotland) St. Andrews University, September - December 2007

As a student of International Relations and Arabic I quickly realised after graduating that there is a severe shortage of internships in the Middle East and so the opportunity to work in a multicultural office in Cairo was exactly what I wanted. During my internship I was able to work with an eclectic international staff and able to take full advantage of the expansive Arab West Report archives. As part of my internship I even had the chance to attend the 60th anniversary memorial services of the Battle of El-Alamein, which was an experience that I will never forget. I would really recommend the internship to students of Middle Eastern or Media Studies-as long as they can handle the Cairo heat, that is!"

Following her internship Clare worked as an editor for the Arab-West Report until December 2009, when she returned to Scotland..

Sara Aguzzoni (Italy) University of Urbino and the University of LUMSA, January - March 2008

CIDT was the place where I got to know Egypt and the Egyptian people. Here I both experienced Arab attitudes and - in a special way - I was connected to the World because of the many different nationalities I found in the CIDT office. I researched Christian women who wanted to convert to Islam. It was such a great anthropological math: I really grew fond of those stories and their names. I stayed only two months and then returned to Italy. I still tell people in Italy about my experiences, about working with Drs. Hulsman.

I would like to come back to Cairo and find a way to live there and improve my Arabic... Who knows when that will be possible? I wish you all the best!!

Corin Kazanjian (Germany) Friedrich-Schiller Universitaet Jena, January - April 2008

My work at CIDT was one of the experiences I enjoyed most during my 8 months stay in Egypt. The people I worked with were very different from the Egyptians I had met in Egypt before. The people working at CIDT are more than just an office staff. They are friends who work together. It was possible to exchange opinions on different subjects and also ask them about anything I was interested in. All of them are really nice, very kind and very helpful.

Baher Dokhan (Egypt, DEDI) Azhar Univeristy, August 2007 - February 2008

I joined CIDT mid-August 2007 as intern. I went through lot of experiences. I had the opportunity to meet Sheikh of Al-Azhar and Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan. I visited ancient monasteries and churches in Upper Egypt. I worked in multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-religious environment. Having discussions with my Danish partner intern was enriching and we learned a lot from each other. It was not easy to go on discussing various viewpoints that have various cultural backgrounds and perceptions...etc. I personally think this is a hard, yet effective, way to go for clarifying misconceptions and stereotypes. After my internship, I joined CIDT as a researcher and translator.

Abrar El-Ghannam (Egypt, DEDI) BCS in Political Science, Cairo University, March - September 2008

Having a BCS in Political Science, and being passionate about concepts such as Dialog and Multiculturalism, I was much interested to join CIDT as an intern. Having this opportunity of working in a multicultural open environment, I got to learn much - on an academic and objective basis- about different angels affecting the form of relations between the Muslim world and the West, and more interestingly about the Coptic-Muslim relations in Egypt.

The process of acquiring such knowledge extends from having a good access to materials on such issues, attending related cultural and academic events, engaging in informal inspiring discussions on different issues, and doing research work. Currently, I am engaged in a joint research project that works on studying the religious aspects of censorship in Egypt and its influence upon freedom of expression.

Magnus Bredstrup (Denmark, DEDI) BA Arabic and Islamic Culture, University of Aarhus, Feb - May 2008

As part of my stay with the CIDT I worked on aspects of religious censorship in Egypt and attended a number of conferences and other events related to current political developments in Egypt and issues of freedom of expression.


Suk-Jo Roh (South Korea) BA Journalism & Mass Communication, Korean University, June - November 2008

The same as approximately 3500 years ago Joseph accidentally came to Egypt, I stepped onto Egyptian soil. My life in Egypt is as meaningful as I had hoped. At the beginning I was just one of the students who are supposed to learn Arabic. But now while working as an intern for CIDT  I am able to catch an opportunity which I could never have imagined.

I attended a formal press conference with correspondents from the Foreign Press Association and met the Governor of the Egyptian province Minya and as well the Coptic Bishop of the same area.

As a student who is specialized in Journalism & Mass Communication, I have learned a lot through this internship at CIDT  and the work with Arab-West Report: for example about biased and distorted reporting.

I am convinced that I have gotten a much deeper insight into many things. My talks with people from different beliefs have helped to broaden my horizons. I now have a dream to become a “stepping stone” between Arabs and non-Arabs.

Susanne Huber (Germany) BA Arabic and Cultural Studies, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen Nuernberg, July-August 2008

As a student of Arabic Cultural Studies, I was glad to obtain some field-experience in an Arabic speaking country. I was greatly interested in The Center for Arab-West Understanding, a non-profit organization, as I truly believe that there is much to be done in order to create mutual understanding between the Western world and the Arab world, due to the growing tensions between the Islamic world and the Christian-dominated West.

I started my internship, joining a fact-finding mission to Mallawi, to interview the persons involved in the clash at the Abu Fana Monastery. I was hence researching articles on the issue in both the Western media and Coptic media, mainly based abroad and further comparing them to the interviews we conducted. I learned to look at the media more critically and how to analyze the various aspects of it. The combination of researching the subject through various media outlets and interviewing the parties involved provided me with a deep insight into Egypt's social tensions.

It was a remarkable experience to work in a multinational working sphere, where I had the chance to exchange opinions on different subjects. The people at the office are more than just office staff. The staff, both Egyptians and non-Egyptians, believe in the progress of the country and actively contribute to that. We exchanged opinions on different subjects and I could ask them about anything I was interested in. The office staff is very helpful, very kind and really nice.

Matthew Snyder (United States) MA International Relations, American University in Cairo, June - August 2008

While at CIDT I had the opportunity to work with an incredibly helpful and friendly staff on various exciting tasks; I helped my fellow colleagues with translation and English composition, I wrote and published an article for a US website about the ENAWU launch in Jordan, and I even contributed my own voice to a promotional video for the ENAWU launch here in Cairo. In early August, I accompanied the Foreign Press Association on a trip to Minya province to cover the latest developments of the Abu Fana situation. I also wrote a paper on the Arab media's perceptions of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, based on AWR archives. Last but not least, I was able to engage in numerous enlightening discussions with my colleagues on every topic imaginable concerning Arab-West relations on a daily basis. My internship was an incredibly rewarding experience and I have no doubt that the skills, friends, and contacts I made during my stay at CIDT will benefit me greatly throughout my career.

Maria Graversen (Denmark, DEDI) MA Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Aarhus and AUC, August - December 2008

After obtaining a degree in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo I wanted to add a practical element to my academic career before going back to Denmark to write my master's thesis. As an intern at CIDT my main task was to write a research project in cooperation with my Egyptian partner intern Marianne. Our research project examined the lack of law enforcement in the area of the regulation of land registration in Egypt. The aim was to show how the case of Abu Fana was “presented in the media as a sectarian strife issue” originated from tensions over inadequate land registration in the area. Thus, during my internship I gained wide-reaching experience into conducting research in Egypt and I experienced the practical difficulties and obstacles of collecting empirical data. For instance during my trip to Abu Fana in Upper Egypt I received ambiguous and conflicting information on issues you would expect to be rather straightforward. Finally, it was a great experience to work with Marianne from whom I learned a lot about Egyptian society and customs.

Efthymia Georgiou (Greece, Denmark DEDI) BA Communication and Cultural Encounters, Roskilde University, September - November 2008

Efthymia is a student of Communication and Cultural Encounters at Roskilde University, Denmark, Her main task was carrying out research into the position of Pope Shenouda III in the Egyptian media since 1999. She participated in several lectures and seminars that dealt with subjects connected to intercultural and interfaith dialogue as well as current Egyptian history and politics. She traveled to Alexandria to interview representatives of the Anna Lindh Foundation about local efforts to promote intercultural dialogue and democracy, and to Rasheed in order to investigate the Rasheed church ownership issue. 

Mireille Fikse (the Netherlands) BA Religious Studies, VU University Amsterdam, October 2008 - January 2009

The combination of work at CIDT and experience of life in the Middle East has been a great opportunity for me and made my stay in Egypt a more than interesting time.

I learned a lot about religion and the Middle East; about Muslim/Christian and Arab/West relations, about media and the influence of their misreporting and about intercultural and religious dialogue. I attended lectures on the Coptic Orthodox Church, wrote reports and articles on different issues, interviewed a politician, attended a press conference at the Foreign Press Association, provided a statistic overview of the position of Christians in Arab Media and had the chance to meet with Pope Shenouda III. Besides this, I had many conversations and discussions with my colleagues on religion, politics and the differences between our worlds, which did not only give me a unique insight into the lives of Muslims and Christians in Arab countries, but also made me respect and understand their world and point of views. This kind of respect and understanding I would never have been able to obtain without staying at a multicultural office like CIDT and without the very kind and helpful colleagues I had here. Most of  these colleagues I consider as friends now, friends who made me experience and understand life in the Arab world more than, I think, any studies could.

Doris-Angelika Binder (Germany) BA International Business and Intercultural Studies, Heilbronn University, September 2008 - February 2009

Being a BA student in International Business and Intercultural Studies with a focus on the Arab world at Heilbronn University (Germany), I decided to serve my 6-months internship at CIDT in Cairo by supporting their marketing activities. I am fond of Egypt, having been here six times now, whether for cultural holidays (joining a Nile cruise etc.), visiting friends, doing a 1-month language course, attending one semester in Misr International University and now working for CIDT . I have seen different aspects as a tourist and as a student, and therefore I wanted to see the working life in Egypt, too. As I grew up in the Western World and have strong ties with Egypt (my husband), I am very motivated to help eliminating common stereotypes on both sides which is very important due to the increasing tensions nowadays.

Regarding my personal development, I intended to use what I have studied in a practical sense, for work in an international environment (which I have found here), and to improve my Arabic skills intensively. I learned a lot about media reporting in Egypt and Muslim/Christian and Arab/West relations. The discussions with colleagues in the office were Interesting wherein we shared the broad knowledge they all have.

Solveig Meling Kvamsøe (Norway) MA Global Studies, Misjonshøgskolen i Stavanger, September 2008

I stayed in Cairo as an exchange student for three months during the fall of 2008. I took a couple of classes on issues of religion and I was also in the process of collecting material for a master thesis. To help me get started on that my supervisor suggested I do an internship at CIDT . For practical reasons I worked 'at home' most of the time, transcribing a couple of truly interesting interviews that Kees Hulsman had conducted a while before. Writing down every word from an audio recording is time consuming, yet more rewarding than you would think, just from having to listen to something so carefully. On top of this I paid a one-year subscription to the AWR database, which probably contains all the information you are ever going to need (!). For my thesis, however, I ended up choosing more of a systematic approach to Islam, which requires a different type of academic literature. So apart from the transcripts I cannot show off any direct 'result'. But I believe my involvement with CIDT did help me get to that place of more in-depth concern for a society I was only briefly visiting. 

A year later I am still in love with Egypt! Last, but not least, I met some really cool people there at the office. I will keep them in mind long after I have forgotten everything else.

Read Solveig’s thesis here.

Katharina Streicher (Germany) Passau University, February - March 2008

Dimitri Niklas (United States of America) University of St. Andrews (UK) and Northwestern University (USA), September 2007

Jenny Ebner (Germany) Free University of Berlin, October - December 2006

Louise Banke (Denmark) University of Copenhagen, November 2006 - April 2007

Maria Roeder (Germany) Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, March - April 2006

Annie Gardener (U.S.A.) American University in Washington D.C., July - August 2006