Kelly Blatner Humiston, SINARC student
Kelly Blatner Humiston was one of over 150 students who attended this year’s Summer Institute for Intensive Arabic Language and Culture (SINARC), a program that gives participants a real glimpse of the Arabic language and the Arab world up-close. Although LAU has held this program for many years, the last few have seen a period of tremendous growth, as more Americans and others throughout the world become interested in learning Arabic. SINARC offers them a unique opportunity to learn more about the region directly, while experiencing its cultural sensibilities firsthand.
Kelly spoke with us recently about her experiences.
What surprised me most was the very reasonable cost of the SINARC program and all the sight-seeing excursions that come with it, compared to the higher cost of most summer Arabic programs in the United States. And when you factor in how students get a total immersion experience in Lebanon for less money than a non-immersion or partial immersion experience in the United States, it becomes an even better deal.
Have you been to Lebanon before or was this your first time? What was your impression of the region?
This was my first trip, and it exceeded both my hopes and my expectations. My impressions before arriving were largely shaped by the stories about Beirut and southern Lebanon in the American media and by the strong language in the U.S. State Department travel warning. I expected to see a city that was war-torn and a bit lawless; a place where political tensions were high and the people didn’t really like Americans. What I found was a pleasant surprise. Beirut is a vibrant, welcoming city. And the Lebanese, who highly value family and relationships, love to socialize and celebrate. I received several invitations to join various festivities and quickly learned that the Lebanese are welcoming of Americans who genuinely care and want to learn about them. Political tensions do exist, both internally and with Lebanon’s neighbors, but that was not something I felt on a daily basis. The biggest impression I was left with was feeling that the diversity of Lebanon is something to be treasured. Druze, Christians, and Muslims from the city and from the village work together at LAU, and as students we met people from the various confessions and regions of Lebanon in the restaurants, cabs, and shops around Beirut, even just on Hamra Street! I can’t wait to go back and see the new friends I’ve made and see the country that is rising so beautifully from an embattled past to a hopeful future.
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