Ole Miss granted Arabic Flagship Program

Published 10:30 am Friday, August 17, 2018

The University of Mississippi is one of two recipients of an Arabic Flagship Program, which is designed for undergraduate students and only available at select institutions.

The Language Flagship Programs are sponsored by the National Security Education Program, a federal initiative tasked with creating a better-qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. The languages offered through 31 Flagship programs at 21 institutions of higher education are Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.

The Arabic Flagship Program is the second Language Flagship program at the University. The University’s Chinese Language Flagship Program was established in 2003.

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“UM is now a de facto hub of critical language learning in America,” Allen Clark, co-director of the university’s Arabic Flagship Program, said in a recent news release. “We believe we have the No. 1 Chinese and Arabic Flagship programs in the U.S.; unrivaled. Because of this, we will be able to recruit a stronger pool of language learners who have the ambition and determination to make positive changes in all sectors… to include American foreign policy through a well-grounded, balanced view of the developing situation in the Arab region.”

The first year of the two-year grant is for $274,999.41. An estimated $325,000 is expected for the second year, and the funds will allow the University to enhance its existing Arabic Language Program by hiring new faculty, adding courses and increasing funding for study-abroad opportunities.

The Chinese Language Flagship Program has about 60 students enrolled, and projections for the Arabic Flagship Program call for about the same number of students, once the program matures, according to a statement from the University.

“The designation of our second flagship language program is a testament to the University of Mississippi’s sustained leadership in the field of international education,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said in a recent news release. “It aligns perfectly with our goals as a flagship university and furthers our reputation as a hub for student international experience and language immersion.”

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Arabic has more than 290 million native speakers worldwide and millions of others with some fluency, making it one of the world’s five most-spoken languages.

The Language Flagship states that students who possess superior proficiency language skills in one of the specified languages are afforded intercultural insights that aid them in their careers, whether it is in government, business, nonprofits or other fields.

Cynthia Bauer, an Arabic and international studies major from Albuquerque, N.M., said she took an Arabic language class in middle school and high school and enjoyed it so much that she decided to major in the subject at Ole Miss.

“Majoring in Arabic at the University of Mississippi was a great decision for me, because the teachers and my peers really push me to excel and to use the language in ways that I couldn’t imagine before,” Bauer said in a recent news release. “I plan on using my Arabic skills for both reading Arabic literature and doing ethnographic research in the future.”