Annie Seipel lives and works Sousse, Tunisia as the American Corner Coordinator for AMIDEAST. She was drawn there through her studies of the metalwork, jewelry, and textiles of the nomadic people of the region. While studying at CSU, she completed a bachelor of arts in Metalworking and Jewelry Making and minor in Arabic Interdisciplinary Studies in 2018. and did a study abroad program. She moved to Tunsia in 2018 for her current position.
In her current role, she supports a community of young people, from the age of about 15 to 25, in the efforts to speak English. The programs help them work on their conversational English, learn about American culture, and practice their public speaking skills. They also do movie nights, community dinners, and art shows.
She also says that her center provides a place to be themselves and a solid community. The center is is one of the few LGBTQ-friendly places that the kids have have access to.
When we spoke, the city has been in quarantine for 28 days. The government continues to extend the quarantine and it will most likely impact Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. During quarantine, she’s been working from her small apartment, supporting the community through social media and online gaming platforms.
Though Annie would like to maintain a studio practice in metalworking, she quickly found out that most of that type of work is male-dominated and family based. Though disappointing, she sees it as an opportunity to study the metal smithing of the region and has become interested in experimental archeology. It is a field of study which attempts to generate and test archaeological hypotheses, by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures performing various tasks without current technology. She’s been trying to answer the question “How did nomadic people work with metal without modern tools?” through her research.