November 3, 2003 - Daily Barometer: Lisa Clark learned Arabic as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Yemen

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Yemen: Peace Corps Yemen: The Peace Corps in Yemen: November 3, 2003 - Daily Barometer: Lisa Clark learned Arabic as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Yemen

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 5:57 pm: Edit Post

Lisa Clark learned Arabic as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Yemen

Lisa Clark learned Arabic as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Yemen

Arabic studies encourages a variety of aspirations

Arabic classes allow OSU students to focus on varying career goals for the future

By Dan Traylor
Barometer Staff Writer

In a few years, OSU student Robert Straus could be on his way to a career in the United States Army as an intelligence officer. To get his foot in the door, the sophomore decided to sign up for Arabic 111.

The program, which began last year, was developed to prepare students planning to study abroad in Tunisia in the fall of 2004. But the 42 students in Arabic this year have a wide variety of goals.

Dr. Faiza Al-Saaidi, who designed the course and teaches the first-year class, has been pleased with the popularity of the program.

"Last year I had 32 students. I had many students asking if they could be added to the list," she said. "This year I have 30 students. I know there are more who want to get in."

The remaining 12 students are enrolled in second-year Arabic, taught by Dr. Karim Hamdy.

Al-Saaidi noted that many benefits come from gaining knowledge of the Arabic language.

"Arabic is considered a critical language by the United States government. More than 250 million people speak one or more varieties of Arabic. Therefore, Arabic can provide access to the culture of those people both through oral and written traditions," she said.

Job opportunities are plentiful as well, according to Al-Saaidi.

"There are job prospects in government, business and academia as well as personal growth," she said.

Straus, majoring in political science, has goals that could eventually send him to the Middle East.

"I want to focus on Middle Eastern studies and try to help out the Israeli peace process," Straus said. "I'd say Arabic is my favorite class this year."

Chris Teeple, a former member of the Air Force Special Tactics Pararescue squad, also has his eyes set on government service. With an ability to speak Arabic, Teeple said, a wide range of opportunities open up. In the future, Steeple said that he might want to work for the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. Having trained for his military service in Arabic-speaking regions, the OSU senior also enjoyed the culture.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about the culture that give it a negative image," Steeple said. "I want to play a diplomatic role."

Others have their eyes on careers outside of government. Heidi Boyer, an undergraduate in UESP, hopes to work in journalism.

"There aren't enough journalists who can speak Arabic," she said, noting that the language ability could potentially help her land a job. "I'm mostly interested in the culture, and learning the language is the best way to understand more."

Lisa Clark, who is in her first year of graduate study at OSU, learned Arabic 10 years ago as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Yemen. After several years without exposure to the language, she decided to relearn it.

"We were the first group of volunteers in Yemen after the Gulf War Crisis," Clark said. But rising tensions, which eventually led to a civil war in the country, forced the program to fold in 1994. "I learned to speak, read and write Arabic in Yemen.

"In Yemen, Arabic was being taught with absolutely no English, and therefore no explanations of grammatical rules that made any sense," she said. However, the benefits of learning a language in a country where it is spoken quickly became clear.

"I learned gestures and facial expressions that accompany the language. It was amazing the amount a person can communicate without ever saying a word."

Clark is considering returning to the region to work in a field related to the development of rural health care delivery systems.

Meanwhile, Scott Shermer, a freshman in UESP, plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating. Currently in third-year spanish, Shermer hopes to spend his Peace Corps time in either the Middle East or Latin America. If he decides to extend his study of Arabic beyond the two years currently offered at OSU, Shermer will transfer to UCLA.

"After the Peace Corps, I hope to learn more languages and travel throughout the world," he said.

Kellen Tardaeweather has her eyes set on the Tunisia study abroad program. OSU will send students to Tunisia in a new exchange program beginning next year. While there, she will have a chance to further her language skill and experience the culture up close.

"I want to be more comfortable with the culture and society in Tunisia, and I figured knowing some Arabic would help," she said. "I want to be able to communicate with people outside my comfort zone."

Dan Traylor is an international affairs writer for The Daily Barometer. He can be reached at or 737-6376.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Daily Barometer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Yemen; Arabic



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.