Hassanein Brothers Developing as Global Citizens
Sometimes LVC’s newest alumni are its strongest advocates. Such is certainly the case with Haisam Hassanein ’14, whose positive experiences strongly influenced his two brothers, Wesam Hassanein ’15 and Amr Hassanein ’18 in their decisions to follow him to LVC.
Haisam, a political science and international studies double major, made the most of his time at LVC. Active in international and social justice issues on campus, he joined the Social Justice Institute and the Pallas Honor Society. He participated in the College’s European Union (EU) Simulation project and presented at the Inquiry Symposium. In addition, he undertook a number of independent study projects with faculty, including Dr. Diane Johnson, chair and associate professor of politics; Dr. Philip Benesch, associate professor of politics; Dr. Christopher Dolan, professor of politics and director of global studies; Dr. Jeffrey Robbins, chair of religion and philosophy; and Dr. Michael Schroeder, assistant professor of history.
During his senior year, Haisam served as a research intern at the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and was inspired by the diversity of his colleagues there. “A lot of the interns and research associates there had a Jewish background. I am an Arab and a Muslim. I thought, ‘They come here to study and understand my culture, why shouldn’t I go there and learn about theirs?’” Therefore, after graduation Haisam enrolled in a master’s degree program in Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
After completing his coursework in the program last spring, Haisam ranked as valedictorian of his class and was given the honor of delivering the school’s commencement address. The BBC broadcast his speech, which reflected on the peaceful diversity of cultures and religions he had encountered in Tel Aviv, and his essay about the experience was published last August in the Jerusalem Post.
Haisam is eager to continue learning. “I’m going to stay another year in Israel to improve my Hebrew and work on my thesis—and interview as many Israeli politicians as I can so I understand them more,” he says. After completing his program, Haisam plans to return to Washington, D.C., to work as a research analyst studying Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as relations between Israel and the U.S. “My family made a big sacrifice to bring us here,” he says. “I would like to build myself and be part of the American society and contribute to my adopted country.”
The middle brother of the family, Wesam came to LVC largely because his brother Haisam recommended it— though the school did an effective job of recommending itself as well. “I really picked LVC because of the size of the classes,” Wesam says. “I didn’t want to sit in classrooms with 200 people. I like to have one-on-one contact with my professors so I can improve my research and communication skills.”
At LVC, Wesam majored in political science and explored a deep interest in the American political scene. “When we came here, Egypt was under a dictatorship and we were fascinated by the freedom in the U.S. and how American politics work,” Wesam says of his family. “I understand that many Americans are stressed about it, but we found it was as interesting as a soccer game.”
Wesam credits Dr. Johnson and Dr. Dolan with helping him make the transition to American scholarship. “He [Dr. Dolan] helped me improve my written communication— obviously English isn’t my first language so I had to really work on my speaking and writing skills, and LVC did a great job of teaching me to write a research paper,” he says. In fact, during his last semester, Wesam took part in an internship in the Dauphin County commissioners’ office during which he was asked to present a 10-page research report on property taxes before the commissioners. Its positive reception confirmed for Wesam that his LVC education had prepared him well.
Like his brother, Wesam participated in the College’s EU Simulation and conducted multiple independent study projects on issues relating to the Middle East. Next fall, he’ll begin a master’s degree program at American University’s prestigious School of International Service. “My goal is to apply to the State Department and at some point I hope to be a U.S. ambassador to a Middle Eastern country,” he says. “My brothers and I are interested in public service to serve this great country that gave us this opportunity to achieve our dreams and reach our potential.”
Youngest brother Amr came to LVC in part because of his brothers’ experiences—but also because of his high school counselor’s recommendation. “LVC has been really good— even better than I expected,” he says. A history major, Amr expects to follow the family tradition of public service. “My goal for the future is to become a professor of Middle Eastern studies, especially Islamic history, so that I can teach youth about their world’s history.”