This summer American University is offering students a chance to study in Syria at an intensive Arabic language program at the University of Aleppo.
One student will be participating with help from a scholarship created in honor of Kogod Executive-in-Residence Ghiyath Nakshbendi.
The newly formed relationship between the two schools was initiated by Nakshbendi, himself an alumnus of the University of Aleppo and a native of the area. Nakshbendi worked alongside AU Abroad Director Dr. Sara Dumont and Associate Director Mark Hayes to vet the selection of the University of Aleppo as a place for AU students to immerse themselves in Levantine Arabic.
"With [Professor Nakshbendi's] help and continuous support, we are able to offer a truly unique study abroad experience for AU students this summer," Hayes wrote in an e-mail to students studying Arabic.
The first recipient of the $2,000 scholarship is Emily Koella, BA/SIS/'11, who is currently studying abroad in Morocco. She will continue her study of Arabic this summer at the University of Aleppo.
In his career funding development projects and advising sovereign wealth funds, Nakshbendi notes that he's received no shortage of rewards for his work, but says this "is the most touching gesture I have received – an opportunity to send American students to study Arabic."
There are about 280 million native speakers of Arabic in the world; 35 million people primarily speak Levantine Arabic, a dialect widely used in the Mediterranean coastal strip of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, and Jordan.
The Aleppo program offers students intensive Arabic language instruction and opportunities for exchange and immersion. It will be operated by CET Academic Programs, a private study abroad organization based in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with American University and the University of Aleppo.
Syria's learning environment is uniquely suited to the needs of serious Arabic students due to its reputation for excellent teaching and relatively few Americans.
To be eligible for the scholarship, the applicant must be an undergraduate degree-seeking student who has completed the equivalent of 4 semesters of college level Arabic. Students who have not studied or traveled abroad in the past were strongly encouraged to apply.
The Arabic Language Program will launch this summer and begin continuous operation during the spring, summer, and fall semesters beginning in spring 2011.