Jenny Alexander’s Undergraduate Research in Oman

3 Oct

This post is written by UHPer Jenny Alexander.

Jenny Alexander

Jenny Alexander

After I returned from my semester abroad in Muscat, Oman, I searched for opportunities to share and utilize my experience.  While I was abroad, I performed independent research that sought to understand the relationship between tribal identity and national identity in Oman.  By understanding how tribal identity has evolved to support state identity, the sustainability of policies pertaining to tribes could then be assessed in relation to the modern state of Oman. Upon coming back to GW, I wanted to continue my research and use it to demonstrate the uniqueness of Oman compared to other countries in the Middle East.

One of the ways to share my research was through the Undergraduate Research Symposium. I attended a workshop about how to prepare a 3-foot by 4-foot poster that effectively communicates my research.  I prepared the poster with an abstract, methodology, limitations of my research, and literature review. I then described the findings and analysis as well as the conclusions from my research.  GW printed my poster and then, all that was left, was for me to prepare my presentation.

I am terrified of presenting in front of people and I decided to do the Undergraduate Research Symposium for exactly that reason.  Throughout the afternoon, I spoke to a variety of people, both judges for the symposium and visitors about my research, my time in Oman, and the potential for further research on the strength of historic tribal norms in the modern state.  The first few presentations made me feel uneasy. Although I had spent months learning about Oman, I had so much information to share and couldn’t concisely speak about the importance of my research.   After several more presentations, I became more confident in my presentation and was able to comfortably touch on each of the sections. I learned through each of those presentations about the most engaging parts of my work and the most effective methods for communicating in a concise way.  I hadn’t taken part in the Symposium to win but to learn exactly that.

Through preparing for and presenting at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, I learned skills being a successful communicator.  In spite of my fear of presenting, I pushed myself to talk about a topic that I felt very connected to but knew far more than could be fit into a 5-minute speech.  I was able to learn more about GW through meeting students who passionately work in their field and the research that they perform.  I would encourage my colleagues at the university to take part in this experience as well because it serves as a perfect example of the opportunities to grow at GW.

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