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

GU Considering Beirut Programs

The horizon is on the eve of expanding for Georgetown students interested in studying in the Arab world, as the Office of International Programs contemplates a final decision on study abroad programs at two universities in Lebanon.

Programs at the American University of Beirut and Universite Saint-Joseph, both located in the Lebanese capital city, are in the end stages of approval. Students may have the opportunity to study there as early as next fall, said Lucienne Jugant, overseas advisor to the North Africa and the Middle East programs at OIP’s division of overseas studies.

Jugant discussed this option with students at the Study Abroad Fair held by OIP earlier this month.

The Lebanon program had originally been considered for this spring, but heightened tensions in the region forced its deferment.

“We hope to reach a final decision regarding the feasibility of the programs sometime this semester,” OIP Director Michael Vande Berg said.

Vande Berg recently returned from a trip to Beirut, and has been working with Jugant and Lori Citti, associate director of overseas studies, to develop and ensure the security of the Lebanon programs.

“We’re exploring this possibility as a part of our continuing effort to provide students the

best and most expansive study abroad opportunities possible,” Vande Berg said.

The American University in Beirut is a school of over 6,900 students, located on the Mediterranean Sea.

Similar to its Egyptian counterpart, the American University in Cairo, where Georgetown currently offers study abroad, AUB offers a range of classes taught in English, along with intensive Arabic language courses to allow international students the opportunity to gain proficiency in the language of the local population.

The addition of a program at AUB would offer another option for students hoping to study abroad in an Arabic-speaking country. Currently, these students choose between the Cairo program and a program at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.

The option of spending a full year abroad is only available through the Cairo program.

According to Jugant, students would be able to enroll in semester or full-year programs at AUB.

Universite Saint-Joseph, which was founded by Jesuits in 1875, is a French-speaking university with multiple campuses in Beirut and other Lebanese cities.

It has 12 academic faculties, including areas of specialization in religious studies, French literature, political science, philosophy and medicine.

For David Waytz (SFS ’05) and Omar Wahab (SFS ’05), a Georgetown program in Lebanon is long overdue. Waytz and Wahab attempted to establish a study abroad program to Lebanon in 2002. Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, however, and they both went to Egypt for their year abroad.

“If Lebanon were available when I was deciding to study abroad, I would definitely have chosen Lebanon,” Waytz said. Waytz described Beirut, which he visited while at AUC, as “cosmopolitan” and the AUB campus as “absolutely gorgeous.”

Both he and Wahab felt that Georgetown should increase its study abroad offerings in the Middle East.

“For an international school like Georgetown, it is very unfortunate to see only two Arabic [study abroad] programs, especially when Beirut is such a viable option,” Wahab said.

To students who may soon have that option, studying in Lebanon would be a chance to learn a dialect of Arabic different from the Egyptian dialect.

“The Arabic [spoken in Lebanon] is closer to Iraqi and Syrian Arabic, so it’s more useful,” Katie Riley (COL ’07), an Arabic major, said.

Waytz said that he felt that he and Wahab were denied permission to study in Lebanon partly due to security concerns, most of which still persist today.

On May 20, 2004, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning to Americans traveling to Lebanon, warning of ongoing anti-U.S. sentiment in the area and the potential of violence directed at Americans.

The warning reaffirmed a December 2003 warning and told Americans to exercise caution, especially if traveling to areas south of Beirut and to the Israel-Lebanon border, where terrorist factions maintain a presence.

Following Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist threats against the United States – compounded by the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in spring 2002 – has forced many American universities to suspend their study abroad programs in the iddle East.

On Aug. 21, the State Department issued a public announcement reminding Americans to stay vigilant against the threat of targeted attacks against Westerners in the Middle East and North Africa, including the current study abroad destinations of Egypt and orocco.

“I’m concerned about the danger, but I’m hoping that everything would work out for the best,” said Krisztina Schoeb (COL ’07), who plans to study at AUB if the program gets approved.

Elizabeth Augustine (SFS ’07), said that she felt that AUB and other American universities in the Middle East would be well-protected given their connection to the United States.

“The sites in which American universities are situated are probably better prepared [against terrorist attacks] than the U.S. as a whole,” she said. “I’m not nervous in the sense of terrorism, but nervous in the sense of . cultural differences.”

For Augustine, Georgetown’s possible expansion of programs in the Middle East is a chance for more students to learn and explore a region of growing international significance.

“The culture is very misunderstood by the average American,” she said. “And the Middle East isn’t a region that’s going to disappear off the map any time soon.”

In addition to the Lebanon program, Georgetown is considering establishing a Foreign Service school outside Doha, the capital of Qatar for students from the Persian Gulf region.

The school would be funded by the royal family in Qatar and would join other satellite colleges in the emirate run by Carnegie ellon and Cornell Universities.

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