2007 Language Immersion Programme

AKU-ISMC MA Students on Language Immersion Programme

20 July 2007

The Institute's MA students departed for the language immersion component of the programme in July 2007, with those learning Arabic going to Tunisia and those learning Farsi going to Iran.

Students in Tunisia studied at the Institut Bourguiba Pour les Langues Vivantes, Tunis from July 4 to August 4, 2007 while students in Iran were at the Dehkhoda Centre for Languages, Tehran from June 30 to July 30, 2007.

While abroad, students participated in intensive language classes at their respective schools and immersed themselves in the local cultures. Classes were held in Arabic or Farsi on subject matter as diverse as cooking and music. Some students chose to stay with families while on the programme thereby experiencing the family life of another culture first hand.

MA student Zahra Kazani spoke of her enjoyable experience on the Language Immersion Programme - expressing the academic and social benefits of participating in such a programme.

"My experience in Tunisia was exciting yet challenging! I was hesitant in going to a country where the dominant language spoken by the public was Tunisian Arabic and French . This experience has definitely improved my speaking ability in the language. In addition, the classes at the Bourgiba Institute were excellent, together with the breadth of students that we were able to interact with."

"I was fortunate to be able to attend a concert at the El Djem coliseum, one of the ancient amphitheatres, with my friends Omar and Rozina. We had a marvellous time listening to an orchestra performance from Vienna. We then spent the night in El Djem in one of the traditional houses where we attended a local wedding, followed a procession, and still cherish our memorable conversations in the late-night coffee houses with our new Tunisian friends!"

Another student who went to Tunisia, Malik Ajani, expressed the enjoyable and enriching time that he had, stating that the grassroots cross-cultural experience is an invaluable academic element of the MA that serves to broaden student's impressions of Muslim societies.

"My first impression of Tunisia is that it is a Muslim country that seems to have found a productive trajectory towards a moderate form of Islam. It is not perfect. Yet here, one sees a diverse population between the secularist pole on one end and a conservative mix the other. It prizes knowledge and positive relations with Eastern and Western nations, yet it also struggles to treasure its traditions, its social and family ties... The history, the sights, the sounds, are amazing."

The study abroad period is part of the student's language training, which involves a four-week intensive language course and the completion of a language-based assignment. This is an important feature of the Institute's MA in Muslim Cultures as it exposes students to cultures, communities and ways of life different from their own. Through their time abroad, students are able to experience language in its social and lived dimensions while furthering their understanding of diversity and pluralism.

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