Arabic is the language of a rich and complex cultural heritage, the main language of Islam and the official language of 21 countries. In order to promote cultural literacy, the Arabic Studies Department at Williams stresses complementing classroom instruction with extra-curricular activities such as film screenings, performances, music concerts, a weekly language table, and guest lectures. Likewise, thematic parties with plenty of food introduce students to another important dimension of North African and Middle Eastern cultures.
In addition to the study of the language, students are encouraged to explore Arabic-speaking cultures through literature and history courses in translation. A broad range of courses introduce students to political and social issues including cross-cultural encounters and Arab migration, memory and trauma, feminism, ecologies, visual arts, and theories treating national and postcolonial fictions.
Away from campus, students have enrolled at semester-long programs in Syria, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Egypt to name a few. Students have also had the opportunity to study during Winter Study and the summer in Morocco, Jordan and Yemen. The Department is proud to offer funding for summer study away through the generosity of the Abdul W. Wohabe 1959 Arabic Studies Fund.
After Williams many students opt to pursue graduate degrees in Arabic and Arab Studies at prestigious institutions like Georgetown and Harvard. Other former students have landed jobs in different branches of government, including one who received a highly competitive National Flagship Language Initiative Grant to study Arabic for two years and subsequently works for the government. We are also proud to note that our students have also received Fulbright awards for Arabic studies. With Arabic at the forefront of international affairs, we are confident that our students will be most competitive at the highest levels as Arabic-speakers are currently at a premium for admission to graduate school, post-graduation grants and positions in government, industry and non-profits. Its intellectual challenges and rewards are plentiful.