The Political Science Department offers an Arabic Culture and Language course (POLS 420R) taught by several faculty members who are from Middle Eastern or Islamic countries.
More than 40 students signed a petition asking for the class. The course was officially available two days before the Fall 2009 semester started and it was filled before the first day of class. Students currently in the class have already learned the Arabic alphabet and some vocabulary. The Arabic alphabet has 32 characters and six sounds not found in the English language.
The Arabic Culture and Language course will be taught again before the study abroad program in the Middle East which is projected for summer 2011. The projected program will include a seven-week tour of Jordan, Israel and Syria.
The current course is funded by a special grant.
“If the departments recognize a need, and are willing to meet that need, the class will be continuous,” said Dr. Laura Hamblin, an English professor at UVU.
Currently Ali Alhammashi teaches the language part of the course. Hamblin met Ali Alhammashi and his wife Salima when she traveled to the Middle East to gather the oral histories of Iraqi women refugees.
“My translator and I went to an art show and met Ali, a painter, artist and art educator from Baghdad,” said Hamblin. “We became friends. Just before I left they asked for a letter of recommendation and so I [provided one.]”
Hamblin thought it was a long shot for the Alhammashi family to come to the U.S., but in January she received a call from the U.N. asking her if she was serious about sponsoring them. She was surprised by the call, but assured them that she was indeed serious. The family shortly thereafter arrived in the U.S. and lived with her for one month before they found a place of their own in Salt Lake City.
Any students interested in the Arabic Culture and language class should contact Michael Minch, director and student advisor of the Peace and Justice Studies Program, to get on the list for the next time the course will be held in the Fall 2010 semester.