Part-time faculty member Safaa Shaheen (Slavic and Eastern Languages), who teaches Arabic language courses at BC: "With 9/11 came an interest in knowing the reality of this culture, and language is the key." (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
And counting the numbers of those in Intermediate Arabic or studying the language abroad, 70 BC students in all are taking Arabic a year after a progression of courses in the subject was introduced in the Slavic and Eastern Languages Department.
"With 9/11 came an interest in knowing the reality of this culture, and language is the key," said Safaa Shaheen, who teaches the courses in Arabic as a part-time member of the Slavic and Eastern Languages faculty.
At least two-dozen minors already have been requested in the new program, which is coordinated by Adj. Asst. Prof. Kathleen Bailey (Political Science) and is expected to offer as many as 40 courses in language, political science, history, theology and the fine arts, according to co-director Assoc. Prof. Benjamin Braude (History).
"The response has been even greater than we hoped for, reflecting the seriousness of the issues facing the world community today," said Braude, who teaches with Calderwood Professor of Islamic and Asian Art Sheila Blair and Asst. Prof. Qamar-ul Huda (Theology) one of the program's signature courses, an introduction to Islamic Civilization that has drawn 110 students.
An accompanying speaker series will bring Charles Tripp, preeminent British historian of Iraq, to campus on Nov. 6 [see "Around Campus"].
Shaheen, a Palestinian Arab raised in Kuwait who has taught Arabic at Michigan, Middlebury, Tufts and Northeastern, has found her services as a language instructor in increased demand.
"One is the enemy of what one does not know," she said, quoting Imam Ali, cousin to the Prophet Muhammad.
Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies program co-director Prof. Ali Banuazizi (Psychology) had modest hopes for Arabic when the course began last fall.
"I thought that if we could get seven or eight students to register for Arabic, it would be great," he said. "In the first year, we had 40. Now we have three sections of Arabic."
And a Catholic university that traditionally fields requests for Latin translations now finds itself called for help on Arabic.
"We have had various inquiries, from ROTC and even from the Red Sox, for Arabic speakers to act as translators," Banuazizi said.
Information about the BC Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program is available at www.bc.edu/schools/cas/meis/.
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