Shenandoah University representatives traveled to Jordan this summer to strengthen ties with Yarmouk University and formalize the partnership between the two institutions through the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
Associate Provost of Academic Affairs Amy Sarch, Ph.D., led the Shenandoah delegation, which included Jeff Coker, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Younus Mirza, Ph.D., director of the Barzinji Institute for Global Virtual Learning; Vicky Spencer, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of the graduate program in Applied Behavior Analysis and coordinator of the Barzinji Institute’s Academic Practice Pillar; and Mohammad Obeid, Ph.D., director of the virtual reality (VR) design program.
During the six-day trip, Dr. Sarch joined Yarmouk University President Dr. Islam Massad in signing the MOU, which affirmed the exchange of faculty, administrative staff and students between Shenandoah and Yarmouk, collaborative research projects in areas of interest to both institutions, and the establishment of joint academic programs, lectures and seminars.
There is so much great work we already are doing with Yarmouk University and so much more to be done. What an incredible opportunity for our faculty and students to develop this partnership further.”
Amy Sarch, Ph.D., Shenandoah University associate provost of academic affairs
Sarch and Reem Al-Kharouf, Ph.D., director of Yarmouk University’s Refugees, Displaced Persons and Forced Migration Studies Center, also signed a statement of action related to a joint service project involving both universities.
The “Zero Hunger” service project, conducted within Shenandoah’s Barzinji Institute, aims to address one of the 17 UN sustainable development goals and explore solutions to the problem of food insecurity. Service teams from Shenandoah, Yarmouk and the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) each will perform their own localized Zero Hunger projects in the next academic year and will meet regularly in a virtual setting to share details of the progress. Service delegates also will travel to one or more of the participating institutions to see and hear, in-person, about the service work being done by their colleagues.
Yarmouk University and IIUM are members of Shenandoah’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program, through which faculty at participating schools develop shared projects and incorporate them into their respective courses.
“The trip helped solidify our already strong relationship with Yarmouk and will help develop our Zero Hunger and COIL virtual exchange project with the university,” Dr. Mirza said.
Shenandoah’s Zero Hunger service project team will collect data around the problem of food insecurity in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and work with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and its partner agencies, to address specific community needs and identify opportunities for community partnership in order to improve food security in the region.
During the trip to Jordan, the Shenandoah delegation visited the refugee camps and poverty sites that Yarmouk’s localized Zero Hunger project will collaborate with.
It was quite powerful to walk through the sites that Yarmouk University’s service project will be helping and to get a window into the inner workings of this inspirational Refugee Center.”
Amy Sarch, Ph.D.