Beginning Fall 2018, BYU’s Arabic program will benefit from recent funding awarded for an official Arabic Flagship Program by the National Security Education Program (NSEP) through the Institute of International Education (IIE). The Flagship will offer unique resources for students to reach professional-level Arabic proficiency by the end of their undergraduate education. BYU is now one of seven Arabic flagship programs in the United States.
The program will offer tutoring to ensure that students are able to function effectively in their chosen profession upon graduation. The Flagship experience also includes a year-long, capstone experience in Morocco, with a homestay option. Students receive intensive language training there for half of the year and have the option to participate in an internship during the second half. The internship experience gives students real-world language and culture experience in their intended fields.
Students wishing to participate in the Flagship experience need not be Arabic majors or minors, but they do need to acquire the level of Arabic that qualifies them to participate in the capstone. Arabic program director Kirk Belnap said Arabic can open doors in many fields of study and hopes to see students from a variety of majors become Flagship fellows, pointing to the fact that the 2017 BYU Intensive Arabic Study Abroad Program included majors from Middle East studies/Arabic, linguistics, international relations, media arts studies, sociology, physics, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, neuroscience, English, geospatial intelligence, European studies, biochemistry, and mathematics.
The Jordan study abroad will remain the core of the BYU Arabic program, allowing students to also interact with people from Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the Arab Gulf states—nearly the entire Eastern Arab world. The year in Morocco will allow students to immerse themselves in the culture of the Western Arab world and acquire language proficiency well beyond what is currently possible.
“BYU had a very good program before the Flagship, but students will now graduate with a breadth and depth of language and cultural proficiency unthinkable in the past,” Belnap said. “Our students will be able to thrive in their future careers better than ever before.” Former BYU students now serve as ambassadors while others have distinguished themselves in education, international law, the military, and humanitarian service.