North Georgia College & State University will offer a new destination for students who wish to learn Arabic.
They will have the chance to travel to Egypt beginning this summer; a place known for colossal pyramids, the river Nile and lately, political unrest.
The university developed a partnership with Egypt’s Alexandria University to complement its Arabic language program.
Leaders from both schools signed an agreement Jan. 19, when a delegation of faculty from the Dahlonega university visited the Alexandria school. University spokeswoman Kate Maine said the agreement will allow students studying Arabic to spend eight weeks in Egypt for a language and cultural immersion program.
“Even though (Arabic courses) here are taught by native speakers, like any other language, it’s best learned in its native environment,” Maine said.
For many students, traveling overseas can provide an exciting college experience, but there are also risks.
In Egypt this week, protests against the government have erupted across the country. Security forces and citizens have clashed, with eight killed as of Friday night and President Barack Obama criticizing the Egyptian government for its response to the protesters.
Maine said there have been no internal discussions at NGCSU about the issue, but said “for those who went and are preparing, Alexandria is a relatively safe area.”
Many details of the program, such as where students will live, are still being determined, she added.
NGCSU began its immersion program in Arabic earlier this school year.
The university’s modern language department places an emphasis on strategic languages, those spoken in areas where the United States has military forces or that are considered important economic regions.
The resulting initiatives have included a six-week Summer Language Institute and a two-semester Strategic Language Intensive Program.
“It’s very important for all of our students, and particularly those entering the military, to have those language and cultural experiences,” Maine said.
In addition to Arabic, the university has added courses in Korean, Russian and Chinese.
The university also offers study abroad programs to other locations in the Middle East such as Turkey as well as many other parts of the world, Maine said. She said the Egypt program will be mutually beneficial for both campuses.