HEI Program in Egypt Moves to Virtual Instruction

For 578 students in the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative (HEI) Public University Scholarships program, the pandemic meant an interruption of their undergraduate studies, as well as the many supporting activities that contribute to the HEI program’s success, from Amideast English classes to community service, mentorships, and student-led conferences and U.S. study abroad.
HEI virtual English class

As the students scattered from their universities to their homes across all 27 governorates of Egypt, university courses moved online and Amideast adjusted to providing student support services remotely and virtual training and activities. Within one week of the closing of universities throughout Egypt, Amideast moved English classes from an in-person format to a synchronous virtual format, working with teachers to adjust curricula and their pedagogical approaches, while continually improving the program by including asynchronous content.

Amideast’s ability to move quickly was facilitated by the support it has provided for virtual education across the region through its delivery of training in how to effectively teach online to the public, corporate entities, and government. It was also able to secure remote proctoring protocols in order to continue to administer scheduled English language tests like the TOEIC® and the TOEFL ITP®. Student engagement with the private sector also moved online to make it possible to hold mock interviews, guest speaker sessions, and mentorship meetings. Even digital literacy courses migrated to online formats.

To enable students to continue to engage in community service activities, Amideast and its partner Etijah, an Egyptian organization dedicated to empowering Egypt’s youth and communities, supported student efforts to create social media spaces and networks through which to share important information, services, and resources on topics such as health, the environment, and education among themselves and with the community. The transition to online has been challenging. However, it has empowered students to take the lead in their service activities and to learn new technical skills, while at the same time giving back to their communities. A number of activities focused on sharing accurate Arabic-language COVID-19 prevention approaches. Other projects helped students hone the computer literacy and research skills they need in order to successfully complete online university courses.

Each year, scholarship students at each university arrange a large conference on a topic of interest. Days before the first conference was to be held, schools closed and the conferences were put on hold. Amideast supported the conference leaders’ efforts to host online content to promote their rescheduled events. When it became apparent that no large conferences would be held soon, Amideast invited guest speakers to meet with conference leaders to advise students on how to hold a virtual conference.

With a virtual graduation ceremony planned for October for over 100 of our students, Amideast will continue to be creative to ensure that our students have the best experience possible and are prepared to achieve their dreams.