CSUSB Advising

Ep. 30 - What is the Arabic major?

June 19, 2022
CSUSB Advising
Ep. 30 - What is the Arabic major?
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 30 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with Dr. Dany Doueiri about the Arabic, Literature, and Culture major! What is the Arabic major? What career opportunities and internship opportunities are there? What resources are there are students in the Arabic major? Find out in this episode!

For more information on the Arabic major, visit the World Languages department website for Arabic

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Welcome back to another episode of the CSUSB advising podcast. My name is Matt Markin, and with me today is returning guests as Dr. Dany Doueiri. Dr. Dany, as many of us call them is here to talk more about the bachelor's degree in Arabic literature and culture. Dr. Dany, how are you?

Thank you so much for having me today. Again, this is a joyful experience, always to be with the best department on our campus, university advising and Matt, I know how much you care for students. So I'm very honored and privileged to be here with with you.

I'm grateful for you to be here with us today. And let's go ahead and dive into the question. So tell us a little bit more about you and your background and how you got to CSUSB.

Great, I think we're gonna learn a lot about it. I'm gonna be very brief about my background. I'm originally from Lebanon, but I studied public policy and agricultural policy when I was getting my doctorate degree. But the degree it was called agricultural policy, but officially is called Islamic studies. So whatever wasn't the dissertation. But what's interesting in how I made it to Cal State is right after 9/11, there was a great need for students, I mean, for our government and for businesses to hire people who knew Arabic. So they were so desperate to have somebody in Arabic, they called UCLA where were I had graduated, you know, back before 2001. So back in 1995, I had graduated. But my former adviser said, I knew somebody who spoke Arabic and he learned some Arabic, though that was not my specialty itself. But just knowing the language lent me a job here at Cal State San Bernardino. So sometimes you specialize something but you have another skill that is complementary to what you could do. And this is how I ended up here in 2001, when there was a rush nationwide, to teach a critical language.

Yeah. And then now you're at CSUSB. And we've known each other for many, many years. And how would you describe the major for Arabic literature and culture?

Great. So for most of our students, they majored in Arabic, and they usually choose a second major. And the second major could be poli sci. It could be military science, it could be cybersecurity. Or it could be in the social sciences, such as, I mean, another sort of size, it would be something like history, anthropology, sometimes in communication studies, and sometimes in other fields like international business, sometimes also in law enforcement, and it. So students usually get that Arabic Major with a secondary major, or they get an Arabic major and a minor that could support them the degree, some do it because they want to become Arabic language teachers or translators, but it's not the majority of the students who choose in Arabic study, either minor or major.

And so this can be a great major that compare well with like you're saying another degree or another or with a minor. And speaking of minors, is there also minor that's offered with an Arabic?

Yes, so on our campus, we do have a minor in Arabic, that sometimes also it's called a Certificate depending if the students is a graduate students or an undergraduate students or undergraduate students get a minor graduate students could be into, you know, many fields on our campus, such as cybersecurity or national security studies, or they want to go into history anthropology, come and get a minor as they call that certificate, they cannot have a minor if they're graduate students. Yes, so we do have it. And also, there's one that only takes maybe one or two extra classes for people to be able to get to minors, they can get a minor in Arabic and a minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. So it's, it's if you plan it, well, you almost sometimes don't have to take any extra classes, if you plan it very well. Otherwise, it's usually one or two extra classes, and then you can tag along both minors. Or if you're doing let's say a history major, in let's say, Islamic focus or global studies, or Islamic or Arabic focus or Middle East focus, you can tag along the Arabic degree or the minor, both a bachelor's with a minor.

right. So some of the classes actually can maybe double count for both like a bachelor's degree and also a minor?

Absolutely. So you could either double count them or we do have flexibility to substitute certain courses that because you know certain programs always introduce new courses that you may not be aware of, as long as the area is the same and then there is a focus, language focus and a cultural focus. Usually we are able to substitute these courses and then take them along into the Arabic program or take along with Arabic language courses or agricultural courses into their program. And then usually we talk to other coordinators, let's say from history, poli sci, international business and they usually except taking a class from Arabic and taking it along into their own specialty.

That's that's really good to know. And of course, one of the questions we get a lot from students is we get questions about internships, career opportunities, you know, what can I do with this major? Can you give us some examples?

Sure. So internships on our campus, or that our campus or our department handles something, and of course, the careers are much wider. Traditionally, those students who wanted to do an internship or community service in our own area and Inland Empire, or sometimes Southern California, which has a large Arabic population, as Southern California is home to the largest air population in the state of California, and in the United States. Some people think it's Michigan, but it's not true. Michigan has a high concentration in certain areas. But in terms of numbers of Arabs, it is in Southern California, actually. So students who want to do internships here or community service can go into local schools, that could be religious school, whether it could be Islamic or Christian schools. It could be public schools that have small Arabic programs, all the way from here to Los Angeles Unified School District, to the LA area, or they can go to nonprofit organizations that some of them are doing also internships do it in healthcare, so they speak Arabic or they learned some Arabic, they go to the hospital. And these are translating to students or not too soon, but to patients who speak Arabic. Sometimes also, we have sometimes influx of refugees, in some of these students go and then work with refugees, either to help them settle in the Inland Empire, or to help them in the language part. As far as career wise, it's very, very broad what students can do, they can choose two tracks, they can go into the public service track or the private tracks on the public service, they can go into the foreign service that will be state department, they go into intelligence, they can go into military, or they can go to the like Department of Commerce, they can go so the public service has a lot of law enforcement, there's a lot of interest, let's say from the FBI, or, or the intelligence community to have people who already know Arabic and then they are also specialized in these fields, law enforcement, Legal Studies, criminal justice, and so on. Now, also in cybersecurity, so somebody has no cybersecurity and knows a critical language like Arabic, Korean Chinese Russians are also highly, highly sought after. If they wanted to go into the private sector, then, of course, the you know, sky's the limit. Some people go to nonprofit organizations helping refugees, some people go into international business, so a lot of people want to go, typically they go to the Gulf country like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, people know, that's Dubai, by the way, it's just the Emirates and United Arab Emirates. And there are lots of job opportunities for people to go there. And then work at US companies usually like people who have cultural and language, competence, flow of fluids in competence to be able to conduct these transactions with foreign companies. So getting a language regardless whether it's Spanish or Japanese, or Arabic, in that matter for today, it's a huge asset that people could could sell

and put it on their resume. What I'm getting is there's plenty of opportunities in various areas, and especially if a student's looking to do an internship, Inland Empire is where it's at.

Inland Empire has a lot of opportunities and, and even people who want to go into healthcare, I know our campus has now of course, the nursing program. We're going to be opening a PA program. And if somebody wanted to go to the closest medical school in the Inland Empire, they'd have to go to either Loma Linda or they want to go to UC Riverside. What is very interesting, actually, if you go to UCR, and the UC Riverside medical application for medical students, they specifically say, major in biology is not required. But even a major in word languages, which would be like Arabic, Chinese is highly desirable, because they understand that the subject competence, you have to know the seven golden classes for for medical school, you know, like organic chemistry and some physics, math, but what they want the rest of the trading happens at the medical school, what they really, really, really want if somebody who's globally competent, who can talk and communicate well with a diverse community. And usually getting a degree in in languages is one of these assets, whether it's Spanish we have a healthcare, like a certificate healthcare Spanish, but also an Arabic and other languages would be great as it for people. And UCR specifically say we'll get a degree in something as such as a word language program.

Yeah, because as long as you have the prerequisite science classes, math classes that you need for med school, you're meeting those requirements?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.

And you know, let's say a student is interested in this major or just the topic in general, is there like an introductory course the student could take? And could that also maybe cover a certain general education requirement?

Absolutely. So students have two ways to do it, if they wanted to take like a beginning class in all our languages, including Arabic is usually coded 1111. So it will be like a are A B, such Arabic 1111. We have like Spanish 1111, a French and so on, but for Arabic to be Arahic 1111. And usually in the introductory class, they learn the alphabet, it's different alphabets. So we right from right to left and self left to right, they'll learn maybe about maybe 50 greetings, maybe maybe 30, to 50, you know, basic survival Arabic, they'll be able to decipher some words, recognize certain things with with pictures, of course, it's a little bit difficult language, that's why it's in high need. But this is a good class that tells them you know, is it something I want to pursue or not? So one approach is start with the beginning class and see if this is something that a person wants to pursue. And of course, it may take a couple of years of course to to learn the language at a higher level, all somebody can start with a culture class, if they were to do a language class, it fulfills one of the GE requirements, if you go into the second category, that the arts and humanities, the category 2 that Arabic 1111 fulfills the GE category. So it helps if they wanted to do different pathways, so you know what, let me know a little bit about the culture and then from the culture, I will see if there's something I want to pursue a little bit more and usually in my culture classes that are for people who do not want to learn the language, but they want to learn a little bit more on the literature's and then what's happening, I do introduce anyways, or some of the teachers of course, introduced language part of it, not to know how to read it and write it, but no, sometimes speak it and then, you know, maybe we'll listen to some movies that are in a different language. This also covers the C3 category, the general education. So C two will be the actual language such as Arabic 1111, if you want to go into c, a c, three that could do something like in Arabic 2900, or the 2900, or literature in translation in our department. And if they want to go into Arabic 3900, it will be something a little bit more specialized, such as women who are writing that literature. And that will cover actually, in Upper Division GE requirement, which is the C4. And also some of these classes, some of them not all of them cover also the writing intensive requirement on our campus, which we usually have to. So I usually highly recommend students who take a culture class, if you feel like you're more interested then come, you know, learn the language. Since we are we have a large portion of our students who speak Spanish, many people don't know that Spanish has about 3000 words of Arabic origin. So any person who speaks Spanish already knows 3000 words in Arabic without knowing that they're Arabic, so it's this one of the activities usually we do, like you speak Spanish, or even if you speak Spanish or English, come see how many words are in your native language that are of Arabic, and they say, Oh, my God, suddenly they know 200-300 words. And they're very happy about it. So this is one of the things. So fulfills category C two, C three, C four for upper division, and also the writing intensive, lot of the Arabic classes are also covered the diversity, inclusion, the diversity, inclusion and the global designation on our campus,

just like we were talking about, you know, possibly doing a major and a minor in classes, double counting, even with some of these classes for some of the GE it could count in like a GE area one of the writing or designation areas or one of the other designation areas. So benefits to take some of these classes. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And generally speaking within the Arabic Major, what are students learning in the classes?

Great. So depending on the class, but usually in the first two years of classes, they are learning both the script which takes sometimes two to learn. I mean, it's not as it is not as complex as languages that have characters I mean, like like Chinese, that will be much more complex to do. But for every 28 letters, they can learn it usually in a few weeks and then start getting with it. Basic survival Arabic is what they're going to learn with heavy exposure on the culture. Um, since then an empire already has a lot of Arabic, living here and there's so much into healthcare, engineering, usually law, you know, other other private businesses. It's something good to connect with these people. So our teachers usually trying to focus on ability to communicate with people within your own community, how to greet them, how to maybe negotiate prices, say a couple of jokes, proverbs, definitely sing songs usually make people a little bit closer. And this is where our focus on the first two years, once you go to third year and fourth year Arabic, now we're specializing in two areas, content areas, media and Arabic film and Arabic women writings and Arabic golden age of Arabic culture, this is one of the classes we teach, or, you know, w l l call it WLL 3920. It's a, it's one of these courses that change topics, but one of them is the golden age of Arabic culture. And many people are really, really surprised about the interconnectedness of our cultures, whether it is you know, from the United States to abroad, how much the United States has influenced others, or how much other cultures have also influenced us here.

Nice. And kind of going along, is there any misconceptions that you think there might be about Arabic or the Arabic Major?

Yes. So usually, when somebody chooses to major in, in Arabic, or sometimes other languages, people think, Oh, you're going to be either teacher of Arabic or translator. And they've never seen anything other than that. As we've explained before, there are so many, just a wide variety of, of major, even people who want to go to the military, I forgot to say this people are in the military on our campus through the ROTC program, they actually get extra credit extra credit as in financial incentives to learn a critical language, such as Arabic or Korean, because these are highly sought after. So plus, they can go on into crypto linguistics and crypto languages. And so there's a specialty of course, in the military, that is highly needed. But yes, learning language is not about being interested or teacher of that language. Learning a language is about exposure to other cultures, being critically minded, that having respect to others, and then having skill like on your resume to say, you know, I have a Microsoft Office skills, or I have some database skills or, or software skills, having a language is a huge skill. And if somebody reaches a certain level, they can take official exams by third party, and then put where they are, are they intermediate, or advanced or superior, depending where they are on the on the proficiency scale? And this is an internationally recognized as it or skill that a person could add on their resume?

Nice. Yeah, no, and yeah, cuz I think, as you were saying, sometimes it's, Hey, what can I do with this major, and immediately it's teaching or being an interpreter. So it's good to know that you're kind of demystifying a lot of that and showing that there's so much more you can do with this major. And let's say someone does decide to change their major declare this as their major, are there any resources available for them through CSUSB?

Sure. So if somebody wanted to do this, I usually would highly recommend them to come talk to one of the faculties in the Arabic program, they are very welcome to contact me or talk to our department chair or the other faculty, we have another foot one or one other professor with a full time faculty to welcome to talk to her or to myself, or go straight to the department chair and advise them, just because there are a lot of details that sometimes a regular adviser may not be aware of what is available in terms of internships or career opportunities, because none of the times we work these, you know, independently with some nonprofit organization, so students who comes to me or under me without a professor, and maybe we are maybe working with, you know, some nonprofit or consulting corporation, and then I could say to them, why don't you do this? Some of our students, we've taken them to conferences with us, they've, one of them just arrange a whole conference at the conference happened to be in Hawaii and she was very happy to be there. But there are a lot of these opportunities. And easiest way is to go to the department, we have an email address, it's easiest ways is WLL that says for word Languages and Literature, so wll@csusb.edu. Otherwise, they can just google it on our campus World Languages Department, and then they can find it online.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I'm on there right now. And so Yoties, if you go to the CSUSB website and go to the World Languages Department page, hover over undergraduate and then they have the list of the majors. So you can click on let's say the BA in Arabic and there'll be more information there as well. But Dr. Danny, this is very insightful. Thank you for being on the podcast today.

Thank you. And I want to wish all of our students the best also always remind them that learning language, scientifically is proven delays the onset of God forbid, dementia or Alzheimer's disease. So it's always good to learn another language other than I mean the career, you know, benefits to it. It's also very good to do it for health and also to become global citizen. People don't really respect people of other cultures who really live among us here, or for students who want their ticket plane and then go to their airport and then visit some of the great traditions.

Absolutely. Thanks again.

Thank you so much 


Transcribed by https://otter.ai