Editor’s note: Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, there has been a major divide between Muslims and other religions in the United States. Much of it is caused by misunderstanding and ignorance, which is why we applauded Washington State University in this April 23, 2007, editorial for offering a class exploring Middle Eastern traditions, geography and history. The class is still being offered, and it is still clearly needed.
Our country’s foreseeable future is linked to that of the Middle East, and not just because of the ongoing war in Iraq. America is tied to the region through oil and business interests that are vital to our economy.
Furthering those interests—and helping restore peace—will be made easier if we are better able to understand Middle Eastern cultures and its dynamics.
A new class at Washington State University will help some college students toward that end.
Arabic 101 is being offered for the first time this summer through the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures at WSU. The idea for the class came from Saad Alshahrani, a Saudi who arrived in the United States two years ago.
Alshahrani, who is seeking his doctorate in economics, isn’t teaching the class for the money—he won’t be getting paid. Instead, he’s using it as a venue to teach language, and Middle Eastern traditions, geography, history, sports, business and current events as well.