Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Some Embrace Chance for Persian Immersion

For Mariam Khan (SFS ’10), Persian has always come naturally at home among family – just not anywhere else.

But when Khan found out that Georgetown would be offering classes in the language, she finally had another place to converse comfortably in the language.

“It was the perfect opportunity,” Khan says. A student in Intermediate Persian I, Kahn says she appreciates being able to speak Persian on a frequent basis.

Persian, commonly known as Farsi, is an official language of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Persian has been taught at Georgetown summer sessions since 2003, but this is the first semester that the university is offering Persian classes during the academic school year.

Farima Mostowfi teaches both of the two Persian classes offered this semester: Non-Intensive First Level Persian and Intermediate Persian I. A native of Iran, Mostowfi says Persian is an especially important language given the prominence of Middle Eastern affairs in foreign policy today.

Intermediate Persian student Eric Wind (SFS ’09) agreed on the increasing importance of Iran in current affairs. He said that for two countries to understand one another, “you’re going to need people speaking the same language.”

Though Wind is not of Persian descent, Iranian culture intrigues him and he feels that Persian would be a strategic language to know in today’s political environment.

“Not enough people are learning it in this country,” Wind says. “I’m happy Georgetown’s taking the initiative.”

Mostowfi’s class is interactive, with students participating in open discussions, dialogues and written exercises.

Mostowfi also emphasizes Persian culture in her classes. Last week she handed out flyers for a concert featuring Iranian music artist Arash and a sign-up sheet for the Iranian Cultural Society on campus. Students listen to Persian music in class and actively sing along to the lyrics. The class features frequent discussions of Persian food and celebrations.

Though Mostowfi’s students range from freshmen to graduates, she says they all share a common interest: They want to know everything about the Middle East.

She cites Middle Eastern culture, history and current events as fields that intrigue her students.

And while Persian may be a new offering this academic year, the class experienced heavy demand during registration. Both the beginner and intermediate Persian classes were quickly filled when spots became available.

But many students are still unaware that Persian is even offered at Georgetown.

“I think that they need to make it more publicized,” Khan said.

But the program still has room for growth. Khan is concerned about advancing in the language. She would like to continue her studies in Persian past the intermediate level, but is not sure if that will be possible.

“I don’t know how that would work because it’s only [Professor Mostowfi],” Khan says. “So [Mostowfi] would have to teach Beginner, Intermediate, Intermediate II and Advanced.”

Donna Harati (SFS ’10), another fluent speaker, anticipates the expansion of the Persian department.

“Learning a language opens doors of communication,” she says. “I just hope that more and more people will sign up for it.”

Though the expansion of the program is still up in the air, ostowfi hopes that Georgetown will continue to enlarge its Persian course offerings.

“I’m very, very proud and very honored I teach Persian, and I hope that they are going to continue to develop this language.”

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