I recently joined the team as Spirit of America’s newest Middle East Project Manager. Prior to joining the team, I was on active duty in the US Army for eight years and had deployed to the Middle East three times. I was delighted to return to the region soon after coming on board. My first trip as a Project Manager gave me the chance to meet our Special Operations and local partners diligently working to increase stability and counter malign influences.
My first stop was Amman, Jordan, where I linked up with my colleagues Zack and Isaac. The three of us participated in a donation ceremony at the Jordan Center for Counter Extremism (JCCE). The JCCE is a newly established academic facility for military and government leaders where students conduct in-depth research and devise effective strategies to combat violent extremism. The ceremony marked the opening of the center’s research facility, which was completed with Spirit of America’s donation of nearly 1,100 books and documents relating to countering extremism and related topics.
Jordan is one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, and this event highlighted the continued partnership between both nations. I am glad to see that this facility will provide a significant resource to address the challenges posed by extremism.
This need was originally identified by an Army team working to support the US Embassy in Amman. Interestingly, I was in the same unit as this team during my active duty service, during which I had worked alongside Spirit of America as a soldier. I found it equally rewarding to work alongside my former military peers as a Project Manager to address this critical effort.
Next stop was Beirut, Lebanon. At first glance, it was hard to picture Beirut as once being the frontline of a prolonged and brutal civil war. The Lebanese coastline is a picturesque setting of endless high-rises wedged between mountains and the glimmering Mediterranean Sea. One would think that conflict and strife are things of the past in today’s modern Lebanon. However, the peace that exists is fragile, threatened by the turmoil that afflicts neighboring countries throughout the region. Fortunately, US service members maintain a strong partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and continue to build their capacity. While in Lebanon, Zack and I sat down with multiple US Army teams, where we identified future projects to help these teams and their LAF partners succeed.
Now back in the United States, I eagerly await my next trip to the region. It is incredibly exciting to be part of an awesome team and have the chance to work alongside US troops and diplomats in the Middle East. Thank you to our gracious donors whose support makes our work possible. Your contributions have a significant impact on the frontline, and we could not be more grateful for your generosity.
I look forward to sharing future updates on my work and travels; until next time!