An interview with Edward Prados, Director, AMIDEAST AdenAMIDEAST in Yemen: Scholarships, TOEFL, English language, and more [Archives:2005/901/Reportage]

December 8 2005

Edward Prados has served as Director of AMIDEAST Aden for almost four years, from 1999 to 2003, after having served previously as director of another organization's Education Institute in the United States. His four years in Aden were filled with activities, programs, and great experiences. Outside of work, he grew to know the city of Aden very well and had the opportunity to meet thousands of citizens and officials during that time. Although he left Aden in 2003 in order to pursue a second Master's degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., when the position of Director, AMIDEAST Aden became vacant, he wasted no time in re-applying for the post. “I returned to Yemen in early September, and am pleased to say that I'm busier than ever, both at work and in re-acquainting myself with Aden and my friends here.” He told the Yemen Times in an interview with him.

Q: Is AMIDEAST part of the U.S. government?

A: No, although many people think that it is. AMIDEAST is an American non-profit, non-governmental organization that has been operating in the Middle East and North Africa region for nearly fifty-five years. We established a full-time presence in Yemen in 1981. Our mission is to strengthen cooperation and understanding between Arabs and Americans through education, information, and development assistance programs. We have sixteen offices throughout the Middle East and our headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. We work closely in a number of countries with Public Affairs Sections of U.S. Embassies but we remain an independent organization dedicated to improving educational and cultural exchange between America and the Middle East.

Q: Oh, I thought that AMIDEAST was just another language institute.

A: We offer English language training, but we are much more than that. You might say that AMIDEAST is the “one-stop shop” for language, scholarships, training, and testing in Yemen.

Q : Recently, we have seen a lot of advertising about scholarships available from AMIDEAST. Could you please tell us about these scholarships?

A: Well, AMIDEAST in Yemen works with a variety of companies, organizations, and governments to help provide Yemenis of all differing ages, backgrounds, and interests with the opportunity to study in Yemen and the U.S., on both short and long-term training programs. A major sponsor of these scholarships is the U.S. Department of State. We also work with Canadian Nexen and have worked with the Royal Netherlands Embassy to provide grant opportunities to Yemeni citizens. This year, we are offering more scholarships than ever before. In fact, I'm pleased to say that hundreds of Yemenis will be able to benefit from these scholarships.

Q: What are the scholarships you're offering this year?

A: Although the deadlines have passed for many scholarships this year, now is the time to start preparing for 2006 scholarships. In order to prepare, it's important to acquaint oneself with the different types of scholarships that we have available. This year, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, AMIDEAST helped support 450 one-year English language scholarships in Yemen to under-served students. The ACCESS Microscholarships are designed to boost the English language skills of these students so that they have a better chance for jobs in Yemen or so that they may qualify for some of the many U.S. government scholarships and training that AMIDEAST administers for study in the United States. These scholarships include the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) scholarship, which enables Yemeni students to study one year at an American high school; the Partnership for Learning Undergraduate Scholarship (PLUS) for the last two years of college study in the U.S.; and the Fulbright Student Scholarship for Master's degrees in the U.S. Separately, Canadian Nexen funds a four-year scholarship that sponsors ten Yemeni students in obtaining bachelor's degrees in Canada.

We also help recruit for shorter-term training programs available for business-oriented professionals from the U.S. Department of State. We recently assisted in the selection for the Business Internship Program for Young Middle Eastern Women, which enables young female professionals in the region to benefit from academic training and real-world work experience at major U.S. corporations and law firms; and we've also assisted in the selection of participants for the Middle East Entrepreneurship Training in the U.S. (MEET-US), which brings participants to the U.S. for two weeks of high-level entrepreneurial training.

Q: How about AMIDEAST's English language training?

A: AMIDEAST has, within the past ten years, earned a reputation as being one of the highest-quality English language institutes in Yemen. We continue to enhance and improve our EL program and offerings. What helps make our EL programs so special is that students studying here have concrete opportunities in front of them. . . . They know that if they succeed in the TOEFL (which is offered at AMIDEAST), then they stand the chance of benefitting from one of the many international scholarships listed above. So, studying English here is more than just about learning a language . . . it's about how learning a language can benefit you.

Q: What else does AMIDEAST do?

A: In addition to administering all of the scholarships mentioned above and training hundreds in its high-quality EL program, AMIDEAST serves as the official ETS and College Board testing center in Yemen. That means that AMIDEAST is the only place that offers TOEFL, TOEIC, GRE, and SAT. We also help guide students who are interested in higher study in the U.S.; we offer an EducationUSA library, high-speed internet access, and conversation clubs; we help coordinate professional training workshops with universities around the country, including Sana'a, Aden and Hadramaut Universities; we have helped sponsor professional EL teachers in universities; and we have worked on technical assistance programs and training of trainer programs with the Yemeni government.

Q: I want a scholarship to study in the U.S. What can I do?

A: Come visit us.