March 21, 2021

Reflections on the Fulbright experience and Motherhood

On Mother's Day that is celebrated in the Middle East on March 21st, we celebrate countless Fulbright mothers, Jordanians, and Americans. This blog is a reflection from three of our alumnae on Fulbright and motherhood.

Although celebrating mothers shouldn’t be restricted to one day, however, across the world, it’s celebrated on different days throughout the year, and in Jordan as well as in most countries in the Middle East, that day is March 21st of every year. Today, we celebrate some of our Jordanian Fulbright alumnae who would describe motherhood as their most important role. These Fulbrighters managed to be an inspiration to their children as well as for us.

We reached out to three of those alumni and asked them to reflect on their Fulbright experience as mothers pursuing their dreams.

Lamia Abudaoud, an ambitious mother, and a Jordanian Pre-Doctoral alumna

Lamia is a mother of four children who completed her Master’s Degree in TESOL in 2020 at Murray State University. Lamia, when asked about her role as a mother and a Fulbrighter, said: “Being a mother of four children adds great value to my achievements. Due to some circumstances, three of my children accompanied me on this journey, whereas the youngest one had to stay with my husband in Jordan. It was a very hard and brave decision to make. Therefore, I took the chance to make this challenge a way to live a comprehensive experience and to learn more about the life and culture in the United States."

Lamia with her kids at Murray State University on Graduation Day

"This experience was a complete exposure to education, social life, knowledge, and diversity. Nevertheless, I learned to balance my duties as a student and as a mother.” On the other hand, Lamia believes that her experience as a Fulbrighter supported her role as a mother, she explains:

The Fulbright Program believes in women’s potential; they supported our decision to succeed and to overcome our struggles.

Currently, lamia is living with her four children and her spouse in Jordan and she is a Vice Principal at UNRWA.

Bayan Abu Sini, a passionate mother, and a Jordanian Humphrey Fellow Alumna

Bayan is a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow and alumna, that spent part of her fellowship at Penn State University. Bayan, when asked about her role as a mother, said: “I always introduce myself as a mother of three. Since I've been a mother for fourteen years, balance became the secret and the magic key of my life.” Also, Bayan believes that “prioritizing my kids and building all other details around this fact brought all the success and accomplishments in my life.”

Bayan with her son

She continues “Being a mother means that you teach yourself and your children new skills and competencies to make them happy, strong, and independent, moreover, see their faces smiling all the time.” However, to go on the Humphrey fellowship, Bayan made a hard yet brave choice of traveling with one of her children while the others stayed in Jordan. Nevertheless, Bayan said: “My husband, my mother, and my mother-in-law were a great support to my fellowship year. My husband believed that the fellowship would have a positive impact on our family and me myself at a personal and professional level, so my husband, my mother, and my mother-in-law took the full responsibility of the kids and home.”

Being a mother means that you teach yourself and your children new skills and competencies to make them happy

Currently, Bayan is residing with her family in Jordan, and is the Head of Library User's Services Unit at Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT).

Rana Rajani, an inspiring mother, and a Jordanian Post-Doctoral alumna

Dr. Rana Dajani completed her Ph.D. degree at the University of Iowa and got a Visiting Professor position at Yale University as part of her Fulbright awards. When asked to introduce herself, Dr. Rana likes to start with her role as a mother “I have four children, and to me, that’s the most important role I can give to society” And when Dr. Rana was asked about her role as both a mother and a Fulbrighter, she added “The whole family, my husband and four kids, moved to the United States so that I can pursue my dream of becoming a scientist.” She continues and describes their engagement with her work and says “I wanted my children to be engaged with my work, so they came to my lab and they got to know all my mice and gave them names, and this helped them to learn more about science and how important science is to our everyday work” And with that, her children got involved in the community developing little programs and initiatives and participating in the local school.

Dr. Rana in front of the We Love Reading Library, her global initiative for kids

Currently, Dr. Rana Dajani is a Molecular Biologist and Tenured Professor of Biology and Biotechnology at The Hashemite University in Jordan.

There are countless other alumnae we celebrate on this special day. The stories of Lamia, Bayan and Rana are a testament that motherhood can be a driving force in pursuing one’s dreams, and the Fulbright Commission in Jordan is proud to have helped to make that possible.

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