While studying abroad in Jordan, I visited the Roman Citadel and Amphitheater in
Amman as part of the AmidEast Program. In addition, I traveled to the city of Jerash to see
Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Artemis, the Oval Plaza, the Hippodrome, the South Theater, and
Nymphaeum. After visiting Jerash, I traveled to Ajloun Castle, a fortress used during the
Crusades. Finally, I visited St. George’s Church, a Greek Orthodox Church located in Madaba.
During these excursions in my host country, I observed Greco-Roman structures and their
reflection on this region’s conquering. The inspiration for many of these sites came from
previously constructed architecture within Greece and Rome, leading me to travel to Greece to
compare the structures and their religious elements.
While in Greece, I visited the Temple of Olympian Zeus, National Garden, the Acropolis,
Temple of Athena Nike, and the Parthenon. While the religious significance of these sites was
shaped by Greek mythology, Greece transitioned to a largely Greek Orthodox shape. However,
despite this religious shift, the architectural style of these sites can be seen in the amphitheaters
and arches in Jordan. Through this comparison, I observed the architectural relationship between
the Grecian structures within Greece and Jordan while considering the religious implications
reflected by Greek presence in the Arabian Peninsula.
My interest in exploring the relationship between religion and architecture stems from
both personal and academic goals. As a member of the St. Lawrence University Gospel Choir
and a Global Studies Major, I take interest in world religions and their impact on culture. In
particular, I am interested in exploring religious integration through the exchange, and often
imposition, of culture. While in Jordan, I completed a Political Islam course in which we discuss
the historical and contemporary influence of Islam in relation to gender, culture, Jordanian life,
and the greater state of Islam. Since I have received a largely informal education on Christianity,
having been raised a Christian and surrounded by a majority Christian population, this Political
Islam course greatly challenged me to reflect on the similar ways in which Christianity and Islam
have shaped political and cultural movements within the MENA region. I believe achieving a
greater understanding of the complexity of this region and the historical intersections of
Christianity and Islam, as they are represented through these cultural sites, has better prepared
me to challenge misconceptions surrounding the history of the Middle East.
This experience is related to both my study at St. Lawrence and post-graduate academic
goals. The intersections of Christianity and Islam are reflected in my Senior Honors Thesis,
which aims to explore definitions of women’s empowerment generated by young women in
Nairobi, Kenya. I will seek to consider the role of religion in shaping women’s empowerment, or
perceived empowerment by others. Additionally, I hope to continue exploring women’s
experiences in the MENA region in graduate school, a topic so heavily influenced by the
imposition of other religious and cultural values.