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

Beirut Bound’

Over the past few years the Middle East has been a bubbling hot bed of political activity. For Georgetown students adventurous enough to dive head first into the action, the university has programs in Morocco, Turkey and Egypt. But it may extend its academic programs even deeper into the heart of the region – Beirut, Lebanon.

The Office of International Programs has been closely considering two programs in the city, the French speaking St. Joseph University and the American University in Beirut. If OIP and the university choose to open at least one of the schools for the study abroad program, Georgetown students would greatly benefit from the opportunity. Villanova University, Boston College and Cornell University all have programs at AUB.

The School of Foreign Service prides itself on educating its students on current events, culture and politics in order to produce graduates ready for the Foreign Service. With the world’s attention turned to the Middle East, there has never been a better time for Georgetown to provide its students with an up close look at the region. Academic ties with volatile regions in the world have never been more important.

In 2002, Omar Wahab (SFS ’05) and David Waytz (SFS ’05) pushed for a university-sponsored program in Lebanon. According to Wahab, a State Department warning raised the university’s concerns and studying abroad in Beirut was no longer a viable option. While the university has a responsibility to help students stay safe abroad, it should also provide as many opportunities as possible. And as long as students are abundantly aware of the dangers and risks posed in studying abroad, the university has fulfilled its responsibility in ensuring their security.

Georgetown sends the second largest percentage of students abroad in the nation, according The Chronicle for Higher Education. The university needs to maintain its reputation by continually adding new programs to its roster. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of students in Arabic classes has increased, especially at the elementary level. It is important that Georgetown expand its study abroad programs in Arabic-speaking regions to accommodate this rise in interest. If Georgetown can send its students to Cairo, one of its most popular sites and a sprawling city of over 16 million people, it can open Beirut.

Before its civil war, Beirut was the gem of the Middle East. Now, over 30 years after the city walls crumbled, it is in a stage of revitalization, becoming the new vacation spot for wealthy Arabs. The New York Times reports that hotels are going up with names as luxurious as their marble-filled interiors and nightclubs cater to customers late into the night. Beirut may be well on its way to reestablishing itself as the Paris of the Middle East.

According to the director of OIP, Michael J. Vande Berg, the final decision regarding the feasibility of the programs should be made known to the Georgetown community sometime this semester. If the interested students are lucky, they’ll be on a plane to Beirut sometime next spring.

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