How Studying Arabic Can Help You Land Your Dream Job

Post Author: Miriam, Arabic Summer Institute student

Graduating high school can be a terrifying time. Most likely, your parents, relatives, teachers and friends have repeatedly asked you what you plan on studying in college. Perhaps they’ve gone one step further, prodding you with questions about your career aspirations, goals, and dream job. Talk about stressful, huh?

If you, like me in high school, are unaware of what the future has in store for you-- don’t fret. The world is big and possibilities are endless. It is okay to be unsure of your future. In fact, it is exciting to explore all the options. And while it is perfectly okay to be unsure of the future, now is the time to begin exploring your options and setting yourself apart from others. You can do exactly that by studying Arabic, and here’s how:

Become a better student

The Ohio State University’s Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures maintains that studying a second language can help students improve their skills and grades in math and English and can also improve entrance exam scores, including those for college and grad schools. In fact, research shows that the longer you study a foreign language, the stronger your skills become to succeed in school. Maintaining a higher GPA, scoring well on entrance exams, and increasing study skills are all factors that may help you secure a job after you complete your university education. 

Most of you may already be aware of this. After all, you’ve all studied at least three years of a foreign language in high school. Whether you chose Spanish, French, Latin or Mandarin, you are already ahead of the game, as these foreign languages have exposed you to different cultures, ways of thinking, problem solving skills and enriched your vocabulary. While studying any foreign language can be beneficial, I am here to make the case that studying Arabic specifically will open up new doors for your future, regardless of your aspirations. If you’re still with me, read on to discover the exciting careers that need bright, capable and innovative Arabic speakers like you. Remember, freshman year of college is upon you and now is the time to begin your language study!

Why Arabic?

Now that we’ve established that studying a foreign language can help you raise your grades, which will help you get a job, the question then becomes “why Arabic?” Brooke Holland, features editor of The Channels magazine of Santa Barbara City College writes that Arabic is the official language of more than 20 nations and the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world (Nations Online). With a large worldwide population that speaks Arabic come a plethora of opportunities. Students who speak Arabic can work in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt or even Lebanon, just to name a few countries. Speaking Arabic opens work opportunities around the globe. 

 Google Images

Google Images

Students may be ambivalent to travel or work in a foreign country. After all, many parts of the Middle East and North Africa are quite different than the United States of America. If that’s the case, that should not deter students from studying Arabic, as there is a plethora of career opportunities here in the U.S. According to Lianne Berne, Program Coordinator for the Arabic Flagship Program at the University of Maryland, Arabic is a critical language for the government, which means that many governmental sectors are in need of Arabic speaking professionals. For example, students can work as U.S. federal government employees, serving translators for the National Security Agency, analysts in the CIA or as diplomats in the State Department. However, if a government career does not appeal to you, there are numerous other jobs that require Arabic speakers. For example, you can become an academic, teach English in an Arabic speaking country, join a nonprofit as a refugee case worker, pursue a career in international development, or become a research assistant at a think tank in Washington, D.C. Are you interested in a career in business, consulting, engineering or technology? Arabic can help you with that too. Major companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Deloitte all have offices in the Middle East and North Africa and are searching for employees who can communicate with and travel to these regions.

 Microsoft Office in Dubai

Microsoft Office in Dubai

As you can see, there are numerous opportunities, both at home and abroad, in a variety of different sectors that are searching for Arabic speakers. Whether you dream of being Carrie Mathison from Homeland or a refugee case worker, I encourage you to begin studying Arabic in your freshman year of college! 


Works Cited

Arabic Flagship Program. "About Our Program — Special Programs in Arabic and Persian." University of Maryland. http://www.globalprofessionals.umd.edu/afp-about-our-program/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.

Berne, Lianne. Personal Interview. 18 October 2017.

Holland, Brooke. "Arabic studies lead to high salary, top career opportunities." The Channels. https://www.thechannels.org/features/2014/04/28/arabic-studies-lead-to-high-salary-top-career-opportunities/. Accessed 29 Nov. 2017.

"Most spoken Languages of the World." Nations Online Project. http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/most_spoken_languages.htm. Accessed 2 Dec. 2017.

"Why Study a Language? | Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Ohio State University. https://cllc.osu.edu/undergraduate/why. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.

Tagine: A Moroccan Staple

Post Author: Peregrine, Arabic Flagship Program student

Tagine is one of the most popular dishes in Morocco and a staple food. Served with couscous and any variety of meat and vegetable that you want, there is something for everyone to enjoy! Tagine can also refer to a type of pot, it has two parts: a bowl base and a conical lid. Where tagine originated is up for debate but many believe that the Phoenicians brought it in the 12th century when they visited Northern Africa. Tagine is usually paired with couscous, which is widely eaten throughout the world, but tagine and couscous has been shaped by Jewish and Andalusian influence, making it unique.

Tagine is traditionally made with a meat such as lamb, beef, or chicken, as well as vegetables like onion, potato, and tomatoes. Even fruits and nuts like apricots, raisins, and almonds are added. It has a stew like consistency, especially if you mix in couscous.

 
 

The pot tagine is cooked in is designed to run condensation back down to the bottom of the pot, and also to keep the ingredients from heating too fast; it acts like a slow cooker. They are made from pottery and glazed, some by hand but nowadays they even have electric tagines.

Moroccans and Algerians make the more traditional type of tagine described above. What Tunisians call tagine is more like a quiche or frittata. Some of the ingredients are similar, like tomatoes and olives, but some of the spices are different. The spices are arguably the most important part of either type of tagine. Some that can be used are ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron, paprika and chili. Tunisian tagine will have coriander as well. The addition of so many spices is typical of an Arab or Jewish dish, both cultures value flavor. 

Some tagine pots are an art form, and purely decorative. They may be shaped and painted in beautiful ways and fetch high prices, especially with tourists.

Tagine is both delicious and a big part of Moroccan culture and has been around for many years and will hopefully continue to brighten many more kitchens.

All photos used provided by Creative Commons. Click the image to view original source. 

The Bearded Bakers: A Trip to Try Knafeh

Post Author: Jacqueline, Arabic Flagship Program student

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The Bearded Bakers of New York brought their unique knafeh to Washington D.C. at the beginning of November. Knafeh, a traditional Palestinian dessert, can be described almost as a Middle Eastern creme brulee WITH cheese! Their 20 foot repurposed shipping container houses not only a commercial bakery, but is home to an exotic and lively experience foreign to many Americans. The “baking and shaking” knafeh bakers transformed a parking lot near Union Market into a block party. Hours of singing and dancing to modern and traditional Arabic music transports the visitors to what feels like a closely knit Palestinian community in the Middle East.

Knafeh

Our stomachs brought us to the mobile bakery on a FREEZING Thursday night. To our delight, the knafeh was delicious! Layers of crispy phyllo dough sandwiched sweet cheesy goodness with a custard-like texture. The Bearded Bakers topped their signature version with a rose topping, a new taste to us that truly made the experience unique. While we expected to try the treat and maybe spend about an hour “experiencing” the magical atmosphere the bakers create, we were drawn into the community almost immediately and spent hours meeting new people!

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Community

While the new flavors of this experience were a huge draw, the community we met was by far the best part of our outing! Like a holiday block party, people gathered together dancing, especially dabke. At first we felt like outsiders looking in, wary of intruding on what seemed like a powerful cultural moment. But it wasn’t long before we felt the warmth and power of the community, two women quickly pulled us into the dabke circle, taught us the basics and made sure we were having fun for the rest of the night! The warmth and acceptance of this community (that surprisingly was mostly unacquainted), welcomed us even though our only commonality was our taste for the sweet tasty knafeh! 

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