Aya Majzoub is a student in the CMES AM Program in Regional Studies — Middle East.
How did you become interested in Middle East Studies?
I grew up in Saudi Arabia because my parents left Lebanon after the civil war. However, I remained hopeful that our generation could accomplish what our parents couldn’t, and bring political stability and economic opportunity back to Lebanon and the region. Therefore, I pursued an undergraduate degree in politics at the University of Cambridge. During my studies, the Arab Spring erupted in the region, demonstrating that we were indeed capable of effecting change. Before coming to Harvard, I worked in Washington, D.C. on issues pertaining to our democratic transitions, including constitution writing, electoral reform, and civil society capacity-building.
Why did you choose CMES?
What stood out about CMES for me was the flexibility of the program. CMES enabled me to explore all of Harvard’s schools and utilize the rich resources available here at Harvard in order to explore the issues that mattered to me. So far, I have taken classes in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Divinity School, the Kennedy School of Government, and the School of Public Health, in addition to mastering Persian! I can think of no other program that would have allowed me to study the Middle East in such a multifaceted and multidimensional way.
What are your research interests?
I focus on conflict-resolution and democratization. As a region undergoing a tumultuous transformation, we need to focus on mechanisms for creating a sustainable peace. However, we should not compromise justice for order, and as such, democratization should not become sidelined.
What do you like best about studying at Harvard?
One of my favorite things about Harvard is the strong, active, and passionate Arab student groups who are committed to the betterment of our region. We are involved in organizing panels, study groups, and trips to the region in order to foster understanding about our diverse backgrounds. Harvard also hosts the Harvard Arab Weekend, the biggest conference on the Middle East in North America, bringing together some of the brightest, most committed, and most inspiring activists, thinkers, and leaders of the Arab world!
What are your plans after finishing your degree?
I hope to go back to Lebanon and work on political and social reform.
What would you tell a prospective student?
Harvard is an incredibly exciting and stimulating place to be! In addition to attending classes taught by first-class professors, the conversations and discussions you will have with your fellow students will broaden your thinking and greatly enrich your educational experience.