Arabic not ISIS

Megan Thorne

Just because I am taking Arabic doesn’t mean I’m joining ISIS.

Conversations involving this topic tend to go south as soon as I even mention the word Arabic. A series of questions quickly follow.

“Why would you want to learn that?”

“Are you joining ISIS?”

“Are you a terrorist?”

“Is it scary?”

The answer to these questions is, “Absolutely not.”

But why should I have to justify my reasoning behind it?

My love for Middle Eastern culture started at a young age when I was looking through my great-grandmother’s passport with notes in Hebrew from passing through customs. I heard the stories about her traveling to Israel and helping people. I knew during some point in my life I would want to follow in her footsteps.

After watching the news recently, I can understand why people might be skeptical of someone talking about going to the Middle East. However, people could also say everyone in America is a part of the KKK and other white supremacy groups.

This goes beyond ignorance and becomes an issue of racism. Whether someone is joking around or even being serious, they never know who is listening.

After taking Arabic now for more than 11 weeks, I have a strong respect for the culture, religion and the region.

When I first came to the university I had my heart set on learning Hebrew—considering more than half of my family is Jewish. Out of the seven languages offered at USI, I was disappointed to find out it wasn’t even offered.

I figured if Arabic is, why not Hebrew?

Either way, I went into “Beginning Arabic” with an open mind. Within a few weeks I was fascinated by the beautiful language and the complexity of the letters.

I wanted to make it my minor.

Yet again, I was disappointed.

At the university a student can take a major or minor in Spanish, French and German. Latin offers an interdisciplinary minor in classical studies, and Japanese offers language courses through the advanced level. But, for Chinese and Arabic, a student can’t move forward.

I feel I should have the same opportunity to major or minor in a language that anyone else does, regardless of public opinion.