This blog was originally designed to keep me sane as I began learning Arabic. It morphed into a blog of musings about Arabic, the Middle East, and the Islamic World, as well as book reviews about those topics. Then, the blog became a place to keep my family and friends updated on my adventures while I was living abroad. During May and June of 2012, I had a 6-week long internship in Cairo, Egypt through a international student organization called AIESEC. I taught English at the Awladi Orphanage in Cairo, home to several hundred children. I lived in an apartment in Nasr City before moving to Maadi (each is a distinct area of Cairo). I experienced President Mursi's election, camped in the western desert, rode camels by the pyramids, and had countless other experiences. I have since moved past this blog, on towards new endeavors, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Post

This blog has been designed for the purpose of keeping me sane as I begin my adventures in learning Arabic. It will stray a bit from the actual focus, but I want this to be a collection of my thoughts about what I learn in regards to Arabic, the Middle East, and the Islamic world in general.

I took my first Arabic class last fall at my local college, and I immediately fell in love with the snail-like squiggly letters. My teacher was from Morocco and had come to the states on a Fulbright to teach; it was funny to listen to him pick up colloquialisms that we use in America. During that class, I realized that I wanted to make Arabic a greater part of my life. It was only a semester long class, but after four years of learning Spanish, I realized that I was ready for something different and more exotic.

When people found out that I, a redheaded midwestern girl, was taking Arabic, there were a couple of different responses. I was told that I'd never be able to use the language, because, "as everyone knows," Arabs "don't respect women." I was asked if I was trying to "pick up a terrorist." To me, this represented all kinds of ugly strains of ethnocentricity. It angered and saddened me. Several times, I got blank stares, and I was asked, "What are you going to do with that- exactly?"

There were, of course, a handful of people who were enthusiastic and supportive of my choice. For the record- I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with this language. At this point, a job working for the State Department seems like it could be a good fit. I've read several books about the history of Islamic civilization, the current political situation in the Middle East, and all of the things that are wrong with current American foreign policy. I like to think that, someday, I can be involved in fixing the problems.

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