Awatef Samaan was born and raised in Tartous, a Mediterranean coastal city in Syria. Following high school, she entered the education program at the University of Aleppo and for the next 25 years, she was an elementary school teacher at various schools in Damascus. She then became a high school counselor for the last 5 years of her life in Syria. Awatef and her family migrated to the United States in the late 90's where she became an Arabic instructor at the Middle East Institute (MEI). She has also taught at University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, Trinity University, and Quantico University. Awatef is the most senior Arabic instructor at MEI having been with us since 2000.