Middle East studies in the News
Funding provides new outlook
by Slma Shelbayah
The Georgia State University Middle East Center has been awarded Title VI, one of the biggest funding in Georgia for public universities. This fund is to improve their advancements and lead them to higher levels of education. The fund totals $800,000.00 a year, which will be shared between Georgia State and Emory State University to meet the needs and expectations the two universities have proposed for the coming years.
The funds have assisted in many ways for various sections of the department. One very important aspect, that is tremendously impacted, is the Modern Language Department of Arabic. This year, they proudly are able to present the students with two additional higher course levels, Arabic 3001 and 3501.
"Had it not been for these funds, none of this could ever happen," said Kwame Lawson, assistant Arabic professor.
"The grant has been instrumentally helpful…," said Lawson. He continues commending the program stating that the effects of Title VI are massive and beneficial in many more ways.
Last fall 2003, Georgia State was able to organize and launch a successful Middle Eastern Film Festival. The festival was held for five days, trafficking 300 people from everywhere in the metro area. The hit further attracted the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Creative Loafing, both publishing articles addressing the festival as well as our university's contribution to the event. Overseas, one of the features was screened at the opera house in Cairo, Egypt. Even Cairo times held a spot in its paper for the movie Everything is Gonna be Alright mentioning the hard work Georgia State University's Middle East Center have put forth in preparing the festival.
Arabic languages, as Lawson mentioned, have already experienced the positive change reflected. Soon enough, in Spring 2004, Hebrew and Persian will also be supported in their initiation. There have been a few study abroad trips, which now have extra funds to back them up, lowering the cost students have to pay on their own.
Another new project the department is currently working on is conducting a Spring musical performance of Arabic classical music. This performance will allow the students to experience a different kind of atmosphere and learn a different culture's values from the music and instruments used in the Arabic classical music.
"It will recreate small old time tacit band", said Lawson in referring to the benefit of the program.
All these achievements and goals desired were structured by Georgia State as well as Emory University to bring together diverse strengths of their existing Middle East Centers. Georgia State was designated as the administrative home for the center by the US Department of Education, which will be called the Georgia Middle East Studies Consortium. GMESC is led by Georgia State Middle East Center Director Dona Stewart and Kristen Brustad, from Emory's Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies.
"This will allow us [Georgia State] and Emory to do more things together and speak together," said Dr. Stewart.
Both universities will sponsor a Middle East lecture series that will alternate between campuses. The fund will expand the library holdings as a source of outreach and advancements for the students.
There are also some activities mandated by Title VI which will include an annual two-week teacher education workshop to be held with support from Georgia's State's College of Education.
In maintaining the management of the outreach, Autumn Cockrell, the new administrative assistant for the GMESC at Georgia State, and Emory's Alta Schwartz, will serve as GMESC Outreach Coordinator, channeling and bridging resources to the greater Atlanta communities.
The proposal for Title VI was sent to the Department of Education two years ago with the hopes and desires to get considered for their many plans. Last August, 2004 Emory and Georgia State were presented with this great fund as the beginning to their new dreamsNote: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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