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!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

U.S. Government Employment Opportunities

*Image Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

I find the idea of working for the U.S. government in a security-related position interesting. I am currently thinking about going into nuclear non-proliferation, arms control, disarmament, international security studies, etc. I feel that not only will there likely be a demand for a person who can speak Arabic in this field, but also that it would be an interesting area to study.

Besides government and conflict resolution type studies, I only have a couple other choices. I find human rights compelling, but I am not sure I could make a career out of it. Cross cultural studies are the same way.  I realized that after looking at the classes I could choose from, the political science ones interest me the most. Thus, my major, a combination of classes from majors including Anthropology and Nuclear Engineering, will focus on international relations and security studies. I'm getting really excited for my classes next semester!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Alphabet Poster

I absolutely adore this poster! I bought it on Etsy a couple of weeks ago, and it has been (sticky)tacked to the wall above my headboard ever since. The poster is so cute hanging in my dorm room, and it really inspires me to look at Arabic as a child would: with an open mind and an open heart. It has been the starting point of many great conversations about what I have learned so far in my Middle Eastern studies.

College and Arabic

السلام عليكم
(As-salamu Alaykum: a common greeting meaning "peace be upon you"). Okay, so I'm officially settled into college life and college Arabic-learning. We've made our way through the first 6 sections, learning everything up until ghayn (Which looks like: غ ). I'm actually using a different edition of the textbook than I thought I would be. They've updated Alif Baa since last year. For the connoisseur of Alif Baas, this book is much more user-friendly. The vocabulary actually relates to one another, and the drills/listening exercises seem to help a lot more than they did then. (Although, this may be because I hardly ever did them last year). The CD that comes with this is kinda crappy though. It doesn't have as nice of an interface.

Anyways, enough of the boring logistical stuff. I really have gotten into the swing of things again with writing in Arabic. Being able to read things, like-

It says "Coca-Cola." Pretty cool, huh?
I've also decided to apply for the Arabic Critical Languages Scholarship. It is a long process, and they only accept like 10% of the people who apply, so I'll just have to cross my fingers. If I don't do that this summer, I'll go teach abroad/ work on development issues through AIESEC. I'm not sure if I'll go to the Middle East or not though. I'm not sure if I'll get much out of it after just one year of Arabic. How much will I know after a year of college Arabic? Enough to hold a full conversation? If that is the case, then I'd definitely go to somewhere within MENA. AIESEC has a great program called Salaam that works in many countries throughout the region. I'm super excited! :) I'll be upset if I end up at home for the summer.
I'll have to ask my Arabic professor for a recommendation letter when I apply for the CLS. He's such a funny man. It is his first year teaching in Champaign, and he's all about taking us out to coffee and talking about cultural topics. He wants to take us to a mosque and out to a Middle Eastern restaurant. He is Muslim, and has no qualms about explaining details of his culture to us. After we asked where he was from, he launched into a talk about the recent history of Palestine and what brought him to leave. He has really grown on me a lot.
After that discussion, I talked to several of my classmates. Many of them (over half, at least) have Arabic speaking parents. Three-fourths are Muslim or half Arab. Parents are from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan, Malaysia, and Syria. The random non-Arab, non-Muslims (like me) are mainly in the class for career-related reasons (like me). It makes for an interesting mix of people! I enjoy having that class everyday.