Bishop ’26 and Gibbons ’26 Awarded CIE Arabic Summer Scholarship Washington and Lee's Center for International Education awarded two students funding to study Arabic at the University of Jordan this summer.
Brandon Bishop ’26 and Aliya Gibbons ’26 have been awarded the 2023 Arabic Summer Scholarship from Washington and Lee’s Center for International Education. The scholarship, supported by the Rusty ’86 and Rene Johnson Endowment for Experiences Abroad, will allow Gibbons and Bishop to attend a program called CET at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan. CET is an established program that offers an intensive, nine-week language study paired with cultural immersion. The CET program begins on June 4 and runs through August 8.
Anthony Edwards, professor of Arabic, said that since the program allows students to complete the equivalent of a full academic year of Arabic in one summer, both students will return to campus in the fall with the knowledge necessary to enroll in a third-year Arabic course.
“I greatly enjoy working with Brandon and Aliya in class. They are the curious and driven students who make teaching fun and worth the work,” said Edwards. “Brandon is bright, hardworking, and polite. He approaches the language with enthusiasm. He has good study skills and makes effective use of office hours, coming often just to banter and improve his speaking skills. Aliya is a fine Arabic scholar and a stellar individual. She has a knack for the nuances of the language. She asks insightful questions and is ready to push the limits of her Arabic knowledge.”
Arabic is one of a few languages the U.S. State Department categorizes as exceptionally difficult for native English speakers. According to Edwards, Gibbons and Bishop “were unfazed by this classification.” Both students had not studied Arabic before arriving at W&L.
“I don’t know where else I would be able to get this opportunity, especially as a first-year student,” said Gibbons, who is interested in pursuing a minor through W&L’s Middle Eastern and South Asia studies program, also known as MESA, which offers students the opportunity to specialize in a language track requiring five semesters of language study.
Bishop said that he initially enrolled in Arabic because he enjoys learning new languages, but quickly realized he wanted to pursue further study.
“After the first semester, I really just fell in love with the language,” he said.
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