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Thanks to a scholarship given to her and four other Western Kentucky University students, a 2010 graduate of LaRue County High School will be spending several months studying in the Middle East.
Haley Edwards of Buffalo received a Gilman International Scholarship to study Arabic at Yarmouk University in Irbit, Jordan. Edwards is an English major with a goal of translating classical and modern Arabic literature.
The senior received the full $5,000 possible for her study abroad trip, as well as an additional $3,000 because she is studying a critical language.
When it came time to choose a language to study in college, she wanted to branch out beyond typical Spanish and French classes. She chose Arabic because she felt the language and culture often was misunderstood and viewed negatively, which she felt was unfair to what it had to offer.
“It’s got a really rich culture and history,” she said.
She was hooked after her first semester.
“I just sort of fell in love with the language,” she said.
Edwards leaves later this month and stays at Yarmouk until May. She will continue her language studies as well as study Jordanian society and its archaeology and history.
She wanted the chance to immerse herself in the language, and was thrilled to receive the scholarship, which enabled her to do so.
“I was really, really excited,” she said.
Once she arrives, she will take a pledge to only speak Arabic throughout the program, excluding conversations with non-Arabic speakers, such as phone calls home.
“It’s a really, really intense program,” she said.
She is excited to witness the culture firsthand and to take part in it, but also is nervous about ceasing all English. She doesn’t know any Jordanian dialect, so there will be challenges in understanding those around her.
“I think just such a drastic change in lifestyle” will be difficult, she said.
Edwards can graduate in May 2014, but might choose to stay longer to add on an Arabic major, which is just now being offered at WKU.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.