Fellow Traveler in Jordan
Core to Commencement, Columbia College’s first-ever campaign, is committed to providing global experiences that will expand students’ minds and allow for true application of their ideas or interests.
This commitment is exemplified in the experiences the College provides its students, including the Presidential Global Fellowship, a program established in 2014 and funded with a seed grant from Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. Through the fellowship, rising sophomores in Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and the School of General Studies have the opportunity to receive funds to cover the program fee associated with a Columbia global program, as well as a stipend to cover round-trip airfare and living expenses, for students to study in a location at or near one of the Columbia Global Centers.
During Summer 2016, Elise Gout CC'19 was one of 17 Presidential Global Fellows chosen by a faculty committee after the students demonstrated their interest for issues surrounding globalization and how their global studies would be guided by that interest, as well as how being a Presidential Global Fellow would benefit fellow students and the greater Columbia community.
Gout used her fellowship to study on the SEE-U Jordan program, a partnership between the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability and the Columbia Global Centers | Middle East. The program provides a unique opportunity to study ecosystems, biodiversity and environmental sustainability in Jordan. SEE-U Jordan uses current issues in Jordanian resource management to explore the interface between science and sustainable development, teaching students the fundamentals of ecology, evolutionary biology, environmental science, taxonomy, and experimental design.
“Every day here, I learned something that forced me to reevaluate – my opinions, my actions, my intentions. The potential for personal growth is far greater, it would seem to me, the less comfortable you are.” —Elise Gout CC’19
The fellowship provided Gout with more than just a chance to learn abroad, but also with a deep connection to the country and the other students she shared the experience with.
“With so much of the world to see – more than I could have first imagined – I know I won’t likely be in Jordan again. Not for quite some time, at least,” said Gout. “And it isn’t just the sweeping desert landscapes and piles of warm pita that I’ll be leaving behind, it’s seeing those sweeping desert landscapes and eating those piles of warm pita with the people that I have met on this program. People I have come to consider dear friends of mine.”
Gout’s experience, from inside jokes with friends to her affinity for the call to prayer echoing through the city streets, was deepened by the new perspectives her time abroad brought to her understanding of the world around her.
“Maintaining that curiosity, that hunger for adventure, has become a huge priority of mine moving forward,” she added, “and what better place to start than New York City?”