Jon: Arabic education… oh yeah, and 9/11

September 15, 2011

I never thought I would say this but I really want school to start. I have been here now for almost two weeks and we are just starting Arabic class tomorrow and I’ve had two other classes so far. Two days ago was my Arabic placement test though and we got the results today. My test score was not as high as I wanted so in order to be placed in the class I would like I have to retake the test. I will say this Arabic program and many others use a book called Al-keteb where as my school used a different book (throughout the US there are only about 3 books generally used, Al-keteb used the most). Because of this I learned vocab and grammar in a very different order making it difficult to place me in their system. Some people who have used my book are in Advanced II while I am trying simply to be in Intermediate I. Since Arabic programs are still very new in the US there is no standard program plan. After talking with people though and better understanding the format of the test I do not expect much issue in retaking the test and getting a score needed for Intermediate I, but it is frustrating. For someone who is better at critical thinking processes than memorization learning foreign languages is extremely hard. However once class starts up there are quite a few ways for me to improve including clubs, peer tutors and just studying with others.

I have started my the Environment and Politics of Water class which seems very interesting. The first half is based on science and the second half will be political. I am very happy with this model as I frequently get upset at my Political Science major for its lack of providing background information on policy issues such as biology, economics etc. Also it helps that the total cost for books for the class is about $4.00.

Lastly, I did interview with one organization yesterday for my internship and I received an email later that day saying the organization was “very impressed” and wanted me to intern there. I have another interview tomorrow with Friends of the Earth Middle East, a group that uses environmental issues as a point of commonality between Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians with offices in each area. They have received awards from the New York Times among other international awards for their work. Both groups seem very great and I would enjoy working with both. Heck if my program let me I would probably work for both but I’m assuming I will have to choose.  

Other than that no not much has happened. I did realize though that on 9/11 I didn’t mention much on here about what it was like being in the Middle East on that day. To be honest though that is telling in and of itself. I did not hear much mentioning of it in daily life here, such as at the University, taxi drivers, or on the street, yet that is very typical for political conversations. However seeing arabic news was interesting. I will assume most of you reading this are in America (has my nice blog audience tracker revealed, it also revealed over 53% of you are using safari as your internet browser). So I will first dispel the myth I have come across the most. No Arabic news station that I saw or understood endorsed the actions nor did any celebrate or even feel apathetic. Every station showed and reported extreme sadness at the lost of life. The loss of brothers, sisters, friends, and co-workers. The day of 9/11 the world stood with us. That said the events of 9/12, 9/13 and on show how America diverged and lost the worlds support. As John Stewart of the daily show put as the title for their special segment last night “9/13… the day where we forgot the lessons from the day we just swore we would never forget”.  I am not turning this into a large discussion on the wars in the Middle East but I will just confirm that the Middle East severely disagreed with America’s actions after the war.

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