Becoming a Global Citizen Studying philosophy and Arabic, traveling to Morocco and Beirut, and working with Professor Anthony Edwards to translate a Beiruti book have helped Tanner Hall '21 understand and appreciate other cultures.
“I’ve been able to meet a lot of people and hear their perspectives on their own countries, which is a lot more important to me than forming an opinion based on the news or a Google search.”
~ Tanner Hall ’21
Hometown: Roanoke, Virginia
Minor: Middle East and South Asia Studies with Language Emphasis
Q: Why did you choose W&L?
I’m originally from Roanoke, so I wanted to pick a school that was close to home without compromising the quality of education that I was going to get. I thought that W&L would be a perfect school for me because of how small the classes and student body were. Coming from a smaller high school, I liked how I knew almost every student and teacher by the end of my high school years, and I had been able to build special relationships with some of my high school teachers. Luckily, I’ve been able to have a similar experience at W&L thanks to how small the classes are and how that allows us to build relationships with professors.
Q: Why study philosophy and MESA-L?
I love philosophy because it’s constantly challenging my mindset, moral compass, and the way I view the world around me. Philosophy, in my opinion, is a really challenging subject to tackle, but every class I’ve taken at W&L so far has always been beneficial to my development as a student. My favorite course so far is either Virtue Ethics with Professor Angela Smith or Intermediate Logic with Professor Paul Gregory. Both courses were equally challenging and interesting.
Coming into W&L, I had no idea what language I wanted to study. Somehow, I ran into Professor Antoine Edwards at Admitted Students’ Day, and he convinced me to take Arabic. Ever since then, Arabic and Middle Eastern culture, politics and literature have really been at the forefront of my studies. I love Arabic because it feels like a puzzle to me, so it’s really rewarding when I can read novels, listen to the news or effectively communicate with a native speaker. Learning Arabic has allowed me to have extremely unique conversations with Arabic native speakers anywhere from Switzerland to Lexington.
Q: What have you been doing this summer? Were your original plans impacted by COVID?
This summer, Professor Edwards and I were translating a 19th century book from Beirut from Arabic to English through the Summer Research Scholar program. It was a really cool experience that allowed me to build upon my translation skills and learn as much as I could from Professor Edwards. Originally, I was planning on traveling this summer and studying Arabic or doing an internship abroad. However, Professor Edwards offered me an opportunity to translate this book with him, and I’m glad that I accepted his offer because my potential programs are probably not running now due to COVID complications.
Q: Tell us more about your research with Professor Edwards.
Professor Edwards and I spent this summer translating a 19th century Beiruti book, “Alas, I’m Not European,” from Arabic to English. This project was a really suitable opportunity for both of us since we both have a defined interest in Lebanon’s history, culture and language. I felt that I was ready to work with Professor Edwards on this project after my fall semester in Morocco, where I took a translation course and, alongside my classmates, helped a nonprofit women’s cancer society to translate their videos and brochures into English. The book we translated was mostly Arabic, but we also had to translate Arabic poetry, French poetry and various dialectal words and typos that differed from the standard Arabic that we were expecting to see.
Q: How have your experiences in Morocco and Beirut, and at the Middlebury School of French, contributed to your education at W&L?
Studying abroad while at W&L was the first time I was fortunate enough to travel outside of the U.S. and experience another culture, so it’s definitely helped open my eyes to the rest of the world. I think that all of my experiences abroad have helped me develop as a person and a global citizen by increasing my knowledge and appreciation of other cultures. I’ve been able to meet a lot of people and hear their perspectives on their own countries, which is a lot more important to me than forming an opinion based on the news or a Google search. I feel like this translates well to W&L because it’s made me a more empathetic and listening classmate.
Q: Has anyone been a mentor to you?
Professor Edwards and Jon Pezzi ’19 have been huge mentors in my life during my W&L experience. Professor Edwards has been a huge help in figuring out my post-college plans in terms of navigating graduate school and creating a network. Jon Pezzi was a former Arabic student, as well, and he really took me under his wing and helped me out both in Arabic and learning how to navigate college. Both of them were crucial in improving my W&L experience.
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More About Tanner
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Lexington?
I like how close campus is to the outdoors. The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful and peaceful, and there’s so many hiking and running trails that are a great place to clear my head.
Q: Are you a regular at any shops/restaurants? What do you get?
Muchacho Alegre. The Alegre rice is a must.
Q: What book or film do you recommend to everyone?
“Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins is a really intense book, but it’s great motivation and a must-read for anyone interested in fitness or running.
Q: Favorite W&L event?
Mock Con weekend was a really fun experience that’s so unique to W&L.
Q: Favorite spot on campus?
The CGL. Not a lot of people utilize it, but it’s one of the nicer buildings on campus and a really nice spot to get away from Leyburn.
Q: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m 100% a language nerd. I spent a decent bit of quarantine trying to brush up on my Spanish.
Q: Who do you miss most from W&L during this pandemic?
Probably my roommate from last year, Drew Thompson.