Arab Studies Graduates

Class of 2013

Beau Clark

I graduated with a BA in History and a concentration in International Studies, area studies focus in North Africa and the Middle East. I was also the president of the Middle Eastern and North African Student Association (MENASA) my senior year. This year, I will be working for the NGO Amal Sale in Morocco, teaching English and French and serving as their primary grant writer for ongoing projects with USAID, the Moroccan government, and the State Department.

Paul DiFiore

I majored in Political Science with an Arab Studies minor at Davidson. Starting in August 2013 I'll be working at the American University in Cairo as part of their Presidential Internship program.

Amelia Lumpkin

I majored in Theater and minored in Arab Studies at Davidson. Post-graduation, I will be working for Amigos de las Americas in the summer (June-Aug) in Oaxaca, Mexico working in youth leadership and international development. Fall 2013, I will move to Boston for one year to work as a Program Fellow with The Theater Offensive--a social justice theatre committed to LGBT advocacy and inclusion.

Alex Taylor

I am an Arab Studies Major through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and will be working on my M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago, fall 2013.

Class of 2012

Leslie Adkins

Fulbright Scholar in Cairo

I started studying Arabic at Davidson freshman year and continued until senior year. As I started to study the language more in depth, I really enjoyed learning about the world from the Arabic perspective. Learning a non-Indo-European language meant hearing about and speaking about things from a very different linguistic perspective. After living abroad with a Jordanian family during my 2010 fall semester in Amman, I came back to the US and saw my own country and my own life from a different perspective as well. I am currently studying Arabic on a Fulbright Grant in Cairo, and I think my Davidson Arabic classes gave me a strong foundation that will really allow me to delve into the complexities and nuances of the language during my study here.

Linda Flynn

Currently working at the Agha Khan Institute in D.C.

Allie Francis

Politcal Science Major, Arabic Minor
Fulbright Scholar in Jordan, 2013-2014 academic year
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. (2013-2014)

I knew going into Davidson that I wanted to take courses that would prepare me to work in the field of conflict studies. Having studied French in high school I wanted to try out a different language and settled on Arabic for a couple of reasons. First, the Middle East is a region of the world afflicted with sectarian and civil conflict, a place where my language skills would be of use. Furthermore, I knew that establishing a base in Arabic would allow me to more easily learn Hebrew, Amharak, and maybe even some Swahili due to the varying relations between the language (strongest for Hebrew, weakest for Swahili). I also thought practically about the fact that learning Arabic in a collegiate setting would be much easier than attempting to learn the language after I graduated. There was one last reason I chose Arabic - I knew that I wanted to study in a language immersion abroad program. By studying Arabic I would be able to take advantage of such opportunities.

I studied abroad for 2.5 months with other Davidson College students in Damascus, Syria. I lived with a family in the Old City and took classes in Classical Arabic from a tutor. Some days I would volunteer teaching English at a Palestinian Cultural Center, others I traveled around the country and region to learn more about Syria and the Middle East. I followed this period with 3.5 months of study in Alexandria, Egypt on the immersion Middlebury in Alexandria program. In Alex I studied Classical Arabic, Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, and Media Language. I also took a one on one tutored course on the History of the Middle East conducted in Classical Arabic.

My coursework in the Middle East drastically improved my Arabic skills. I would love to maintain these skills throughout my life and use them in my future work. I took one semester of Arabic upon returning to the United States and was unfortunately unable to maintain Arabic in my senior year. That hasn't stopped my desire to improve my language skills however! I still listen to Arabic music and just enrolled in a 10 week class at the Middle East Institute in DC to further develop my skills. Though my job at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace doesn't require knowledge of Arabic (or any secondary language for that matter!) I hope to use Arabic in my job in the future.

I recently applied for a Fulbright scholarship to Jordan. This would be a great opportunity to use my Arabic, and without the skills I gained at Davidson and in my study abroad programs I would not be a competitive applicant for the program. It is because of the skills I learned during my time at Davidson that I can apply for such wonderful opportunities as the Fulbright. I do hope to use Arabic in the future in my work promoting conflict resolution and human security.

Lauren Khater

This year I will be working at the Department of Defense.

Joseph Sills

CASA Fellowship in Egypt, 2013-2014 academic year

I started taking Arabic at Davidson because I wanted to study a relevant, useful, and challenging world language that did not fall under the umbrella of common languages of study such as French, Spanish and German. After studying in Syria for the summer of 2010 I was sure that I wanted to continue studying and eventually work in the Middle East. I am applying for a Fulbright and a CASA grant to study in the Middle East for the 2013-2014 school year, and I eventually hope to do graduate work in Middle Eastern Studies. I currently do some translation and write book and film reviews for Al-Jadid: A Magazine of Arab Art and Culture.

Anna Van Hollen

Recipient of 2012 Smith Scholarship, studying at the London School of Economics

After studying the Middle East for one year, I decided to study Arabic. My goal was to one day be proficient enough to speak with the people who lived in the region that I was studying. As I travelled to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the West Bank, conversations with locals added much depth to my academic study of the region. These experiences reminded me why I was studying the language in the first place, and encouraged me to continue.

I will likely pursue a career in law, foreign policy, or journalism with a Middle East component. For any of these, Arabic language will be extremely useful. On a more personal level, many of the relationships that I have made while traveling in the region have turned into important friendships. I will continue to use Arabic as I stay connected with these friends and with the region.

Class of 2011

Maddie Koch

Program Officer at ICAN Peace Work, Washington, D.C.
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. (2012-13)

I graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College in 2011 with a French Major and Arabic Minor. I originally started to study Arabic because of my interest in North Africa, and have been hooked ever since. I studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco with the S.I.T. program as well as in central France. Living in Morocco convinced me that I wanted to continue to study the region, and that Arabic language skills were an essential (and marketable!) tool to achieving my goals. After graduating, I lived and worked in Fes, Morocco, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship. I learned Moroccan Darija and took MSA at the American Language Institute of Fes (ALIF). I worked in Washington, D.C. for "Women in International Security," a department of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and just recently started a new job as a Program Officer at a small NGO in DC that works on women, peace and security issues in the MENA. I use my Arabic every day to do research, read the news, and communicate with our partners in the region. A few weeks ago I was at a U.N. conference, and had to translate for our Libyan partner. I am studying media Arabic at the Middle East Institute, and intend to continue my Arabic education so that I can use it in a professional setting. Davidsonians are always welcome to email me. Fursa sa3ida ya shabaab!graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College in 2011 with a French Major and Arabic Minor. I originally started to study Arabic because of my interest in North Africa, and have been hooked ever since. I studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco with the S.I.T. program as well as in central France. Living in Morocco convinced me that I wanted to continue to study the region, and that Arabic language skills were an essential (and marketable!) tool to achieving my goals. After graduating, I lived and worked in Fes, Morocco, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship. I learned Moroccan Darija and took MSA at the American Language Institute of Fes (ALIF). I am currently living in Washington, D.C. and working for "Women in International Security," a department of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). I am studying media Arabic at the Middle East Institute, and intend to continue my Arabic education so that I can use it in a professional setting. Davidsonians are always welcome to email me. Fursa sa3ida ya shabaab!

Class of 2010

Jennifer DeKnight

AMIDEAST Washington, D.C.

As a 2010 Davidson graduate, I started taking Arabic my junior year of college. After a year's worth of instruction, I spent the summer of 2009 in Jordan studying at Qasid Institute. I knew that I loved Arabic before traveling to the Middle East, but spending time there really solidified my commitment to learning the language. I continued taking classes during my senior year at Davidson, and began plotting a career involving the Middle East and Arabic. I am currently working at AMIDEAST, the premier education and training organization in the Middle East (we run study abroad programs at Qasid, I have come full circle!). I work in the Washington, DC headquarters, but will have the opportunity to travel to field offices and I often use Arabic to read emails or translate short documents such as invoices. In general, working with individuals either from the Middle East or interested in the region keeps me in contact with Arabic. I have continued to take classes since graduation and have traveled independently in the region, and I plan to study Arabic as a part of a graduate degree in the future. I also hope to use Arabic throughout my career, whether it is working in the Middle East, communicating with students from the region, or translating.

Class of 2009

Stephen Kalin

Freelance journalist in Egypt

I started studying Arabic through the Self-Instructional Language Program with Bassam Halaweh, then with Kifah Hannah, Davidson's first full Arabic professor. After graduation, I studied for a summer at Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, then worked as a Presidential Intern at the American University in Cairo. After a short break back in the states, I returned to Egypt in 2011 for the CASA program (Center for Arabic Studies Abroad). When that ended last summer, I continued with some advanced research in Arabic political discourse and now I'm working as a freelance journalist in Egypt.

Ben Starkweather

History Major
Current student at St. John's University School of Law

My first experience with Arabic was a summer abroad course in Sana'a, Yemen. I had never taken Arabic or even been outside the U.S. before I went to Yemen after my freshman year at Davidson. This was a wonderful experience that exposed me to Arab culture and really cemented my interest in the area and language. When I got back, I studied Arabic independently with Bassam Halaweh and eventually with Kifah Hanna when Davidson finally hired a full-time Arabic professor. I'm fairly certain I took every class Davidson had to offer on the Middle East. After college, I did fundraising for the UNHCR, raising money for refugees around the world. I later lived in Nablus, Palestine, teaching children English and doing community outreach with the program Teach for Palestine. I am currently a law student at St. John's and I plan to work in immigration law after I graduate. Hopefully I will be able to continue working on my Arabic skills so I can use them in my work helping people with naturalization and immigration issues.

Class of 2008

Robert Mark

History Major
Intelligence Office, United States Army

Having traveled extensively through the Middle East and having studied Arabic through middle school and high school, I went to Davidson with the intent of lobbying for an Arabic department, which was not started until my senior year. I studied history and took every Middle Eastern History, Art and Architecture class offered at Davidson. I enjoyed studying under Dr. Berkey and Dr. Thomas who guided my studies in the Middle East. Freshman year, I co-founded the Middle Eastern Cross Cultural Association (MECCA) with senior David Jemison. We used this as a platform to bring Middle Eastern speakers and hold cultural events. Most notably, we co-hosted Salman Rushdie's visit to Davidson.

I am currently working as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Army. In my first job in the Army, I managed language programs for native speakers of Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Farsi, Urdu, and Kurdish who joined the military as translators/interpreters. Currently, I am the commanding officer of a Military Intelligence Battalion Rear Detachment that supports a deployed battalion in Afghanistan. In that capacity, I have been studying public policy and intelligence related to the Middle East.

Stewart Pierce-Gardner

CIS Major: International Political Economy
Research Associate at Nathan Associates, Inc.

I started studying Arabic my sophomore year through the self-instructional language program with Bassam Halaweh. I needed Arabic to research my thesis on Jordan's recent economic development: a requirement of my major in International Political Economy with the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. With the generous support of the Dean Rusk program and other grants, I studied in Syria during the summer of 2006, and Jordan in the fall of 2006 and summer of 2007. After graduating in 2008, I lived in Yemen, Jordan, and Iraq for 3 years improving my Arabic skills and working. In Yemen and Jordan I worked for study abroad companies bringing American students to the Middle East. In Iraq I worked on the USAID-funded Local Governance Project working on legislative decentralization and provincial training initiatives. I moved to Washington D.C. in 2011, and have been a Research Associate with Nathan Associates, Inc., a firm focused on international development economics and trade facilitation. Since joining the firm, I have led a field-based labor market assessment team to Tripoli, Libya, as well as managed two USAID-funded projects: the Egypt Trade Facilitation Project and the U.S.-Laos International and ASEAN Integration Project (we supported Laos in their successful WTO accession on February 2, 2013). When I am not traveling to Egypt or Laos for work, I am pursuing a part-time Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown. I started studying Arabic my sophomore year through the self-instructional language program with Bassam Halaweh. I needed Arabic to research my thesis on Jordan's recent economic development: a requirement of my major in International Political Economy with the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. With the generous support of the Dean Rusk program and other grants, I studied in Syria during the summer of 2006, and Jordan in the fall of 2006 and summer of 2007. After graduating in 2008, I lived in Yemen, Jordan, and Iraq for 3 years improving my Arabic skills and working. In Yemen and Jordan I worked for study abroad companies bringing American students to the Middle East. In Iraq I worked on the USAID-funded Local Governance Project working on legislative decentralization and provincial training initiatives. I moved to Washington D.C. in 2011, and have been a Research Associate with Nathan Associates, Inc., a firm focused on international development economics and trade facilitation. Since joining the firm, I have led a field-based labor market assessment team to Tripoli, Libya, as well as managed two USAID-funded projects: the Egypt Trade Facilitation Project and the U.S.-Laos International and ASEAN Integration Project (we supported Laos in their successful WTO accession on February 2, 2013). When I am not traveling to Egypt or Laos for work, I am pursuing a part-time Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown.