Callie Fauntleroy / April 6, 2021

The Middle East Institute’s Education Center offers a free language class to all MEI interns so they are able to maximize their time as an intern with us. We encourage all of our interns to take a Middle Eastern language class to help them dive into new languages, cultures, and professional opportunities. We reached out to past interns to share their personal opinions on our classes.

The interns included; Beau Wilcox, program assistant at USAID’s Middle East Bureau; Araceli Arizpe, undergraduate student at Middlebury College; Franziska (Yuanyi) Liu, graduate from Syracuse University; and Ghasharib Shoukat, research assistant at the Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies Center at MEI. 

“These language classes are for people who are really invested in learning these challenging language that MEI is offering”
-Araceli Arizpe

Why would you recommend taking a class with MEI?

“The instructors are great, flexible, and can hone in on the areas that a student needs improvement in.”
-Beau Wilcox

“I would highly recommend taking class with MEI. Firstly, the instructor I had was devoted to teaching. Additionally, MEI's perfect location in DC lets our language study follow up with current news in a practical way.”
-Franziska (Yuanyi) Liu

“I liked that all the instructors were native speakers. In my experience, having non native speaking instructors is a limitation. You get more out of it than just language learning, you make personal connections and expand your network”
-Araceli Arizpe

How has learning a Middle Eastern Language helped you advance your career goals?

“I want to be a political scientist based in the MENA region. Learning Arabic can help me carry out field-based research by communicating with locals. It can also give me the chance to grab first-hand news through local newspaper.”
-Franziska (Yuanyi) Liu

“Even though I don’t know if I’m going to use Arabic in my career, it is important to understand and be able to communicate with people in the region. Knowing a different language from the Middle Eastern region is a really important bridge- it’s important to understand a different language if you are trying to make connections with people- whether IR, government, business- having that ability to connect with a diverse skill set of people is important and can allow you to expand your base”
-Araceli Arizpe

“My career goals include working on foriegn policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran region, and learning a new language such as persian adds it to my skill sets and makes me more marketable and generally of more value in terms of the career I want to go into”
-Ghasharib Shoukat

How has learning a Middle East language with MEI helped you achieve your personal goals?

“Texts by people like Rumi, Hafez, Saadi, Khayyam, Iqbal are all written in Persian, and are texts really important to my cultural heritage. Having some decent mastery of the persian language will allow me to read and comprehend it on my own and I won't have to rely on translation.

“Furthermore, I intend to travel a lot in the region. I enjoy photography, traveling, exploring, and meeting new people. So knowing farsi would make it easier to communicate and get a long in those regions and get people in those regions to trust me more as opposed to if I would try to communicate with them in English or a third language”
-Ghasharib Shoukat

What makes MEI classes unique?

“MEI attracts students with diverse backgrounds and goals, making the classroom setting very unique” 
-Araceli Arizpe

“Students come from all walks of life which allows for great diversity in age, occupation, races, and gender, as well as reasoning for taking that language. It is a very wholesome learning environment”
-Ghasharib Shoukat


By transcending linguistic barriers when learning to speak a new language, you gain the ability to truly listen and connect with native speakers of that language, while allowing for a deeper appreciation for their culture. We hope to empower not only our interns, but our students by providing them with this valuable skill set to help them tackle life challenges ahead of them. 

Upon parting ways from our interns and students, we still remain connected through a common respect for Middle Eastern culture, languages, and experiences. We look forward to continuing to expand the MEI family by welcoming any student willing to take a deeper dive into one of our critical languages, so that we can continue to build our community one voice at a time. 

View our learning opportunities here!