Written by Ann Monk (Connecticut College), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan: Intensive Language, Fall 2019
The reason I chose the CET Language Intensive program is simple: it’s the only Arabic program for study abroad that offers content courses taught in Arabic. I am an International Relations major, so I chose to take “Trappings of Legitimacy: Political Parties and Religious Rhetoric” as well as “Modern History of Conflict in the Middle East: Influences on the Arab Spring.” But CET offers content courses in many different disciplines, such as Arab theater, Islamic law, Arab literature, and media studies.
Studying these topics in Arabic sounds daunting, but CET prepared me well for the challenge. The language courses are front-loaded, meaning that we only had language class for the first month and a half abroad. Once we had made significant gains in our language skills, we began the content courses, although we still have two hours of language class each day.
A reading for my content course “Modern History of Conflict in the Middle East: Influences on the Arab Spring.
The readings are selected from works by Arab experts, often scholars and professors at the University of Jordan! This means that the readings are intended for native Arabic speakers, but our teachers highlight only the most important excerpts for us to read and then we discuss the readings as a whole in class to make sure that everyone understands the content.
It’s incredible to read about these topics from the inside perspective of Arab scholars who are actually a part of the histories they discuss. Reading these works would be quite challenging on my own, but CET offers the resources and support to help students read them, even those who only took one year of Arabic before studying abroad.
Last weekend, I traveled with some of my classmates to Palestine, where we had firsthand encounters some of the topics that we’ve been studying. We visited a museum about the history of the conflicts in the region and the mausoleum of Yasser Arafat, a Palestinian political leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize. We even met refugees who had fled the violence discussed in my class on recent conflicts in the Middle East.
It was incredibly powerful to explore the issues that I study in my CET courses in a place where they have such critical importance. This trip really demonstrated the ways in which these courses are interconnected and fit into the bigger picture of history and politics in the Middle East!