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To Bursa and Back: A FLAS Fellow’s Path to Turkish and Arabic

April 19, 2017

Studying Arabic with the FLAS has also impacted my experience here by allowing me to build friendships and make connections with Arabic-speaking students on a deeper-level.

Perry Keziah Perry Keziah is a senior at the University of Washington who, for years, was set on studying pre-med.  A year in Turkey as an exchange student changed her mind, and she now studies Turkish and Arabic in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilization Department at UW.  Keziah reflects on her experiences in the following interview, and discusses how the FLAS fellowship from the Middle East Center has impacted her life.

How did you become interested in studying Arabic? How did your time living in Turkey influence your academic experience and goals in life?

Growing up, I was always fascinated by the Middle East. However, I never gave myself the time or opportunity to nurture this interest until I had the chance to study abroad in Turkey for a year with Rotary International after graduating from high school. For ten months, I lived with a host family in Bursa, a city of 2.5 million people south of Istanbul, and attended a Turkish public high school. It was an invaluable experience because I had the chance to both observe and become a part of a Middle Eastern culture.

My real motivation for studying Arabic came from my growing awareness of current political events in the Middle East, especially the thousands of Syrian refugees trying survive in Turkey. I had only brief glimpses into what many refugees were experiencing at the time, such as young Syrian mothers and their children maneuvering chaotic intersections trying to sell packets of tissues or running in front of waiting cars to clean the windshields for money. However, it made me realize the extent of the devastation the war in Syria has caused for millions of people.

A year later, after taking a course on global justice at the University of Washington, I knew that I wanted to devote my academic studies to learning Arabic, continuing my study of Turkish, and developing my knowledge of Middle Eastern culture and politics in order to someday participate in efforts toward helping Syrian refugees navigate life in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Read the full interview on the Middle East Center News page.

FLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education Office of the U.S. Department of Education. FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply. Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.