Yes, but for what?
So, in light of what is going in Egypt I am thinking about another, issue.
If there is a regime change, what will be the fate of all the study abroad and language programs in this Arabic education hot-spot?
Off the top of my head I know that there is a Middlebury College and Arabic Flagship programs in the University of Alexandria, the ALI, CASA and ILI in Cairo and a slew of other international programs.
Egypt, up until now has been a bastion of relative peace and stability. Unfortunately the opportunity to study Arabic in the Arab world feels like it is slowly diminishing… sigh. I don’t lament this for selfish reasons.
But rather I am thinking of the larger implications as Egypt is “Kind of a big deal”.
Case in point, about half of the students in my program have studied in Egypt. Want to know why? simply check out University websites like the University of Michigan for a list of study abroad programs: http://www.umich.edu/~neareast/arabicstudy.html
Surprise, surprise. There are significantly more Egypt programs than there are anything else.
The reality is there just aren’t many alternatives…
My beloved Morocco is scoffed at by many who (with good reason and without good reason depending on how you look at it) just don’t want to deal with the Moroccan dialect.
Yemen, although IMHO one of the best places to learn Arabic is a hot mess (I am happy that I got to study there when I did).
Tunisia (which was never a real big Arabic language learning destination, is wobbly right now anyway.
Lebanon is always tip toeing around one political upheaval or another.
Saudi Arabia is just way too conservative.
Sudan is off limits — for most Americans anyway and Libya tooo for that matter.
Algeria— well, although the situation is stable there, the blot of its long, drawn-out civil war plus its North African dialect makes it not a contender.
So who is left?
Qatar/The Gulf region(minus SA of course)— good luck finding people who speak Arabic! if full language immersion is what you’re looking for, then the Gulf is definitely not it.
Iraq- Are you serious?
Of course there are other places like Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritania and Niger… but let’s be real, I find it hard to believe that any of these places will take Egypt’s place. Sigh.
The way I see it the only viable options are now,
Syria— Awesome, great programs, great Arabic and tentatively unscathed.
Jordan-— They’ve go some really good programs, but perhaps not nearly enough to hand the demand.
Oman — over looked, but stable possibility as far less oil-infused Gulf Arab state.
Israel* — I think the caveats go without saying.
But I don’t know if these places can handle the overflow.
At any rate, it looks like change is coming… so here’s to being along for the ride.
The Egyptians mean business
Well this is it for me and Egypt… I am tired of all the ME heads referencing it on Facebook and blogs and the newspapers… my two cents have been shared.