SU abroad

SU officials to re-evaluate Middle East programs

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, the number of Syracuse University students in Jordan this semester was misstated. There are six SU students in Jordan. The Daily Orange regrets this error. 

Syracuse University students hoping to study abroad in certain Middle Eastern countries may need to look elsewhere.

Last September, SU made the decision to halt its study abroad programs in Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt due to the increasingly dangerous conditions of these countries.

“The situation in Egypt has obviously gotten worse,” said Sue Shane, director of programs for SU Abroad. “I don’t believe any programs are sending students there.”

Before the Arab Spring protests two years ago, SU had a consistent group of students studying abroad in Egypt, Shane said. When the revolution broke out, Americans were asked to leave.

SU Abroad has a risk management committee that meets periodically to review the situation, Shane said. The group plans to meet again in the coming weeks to re-assess the program in Lebanon.

“The problem with Lebanon is that it’s getting quite a lot of spillover from the Syrian uprising,” Shane said. “We haven’t had anyone inquire about the program there as of recently.”

SU has several means of assessing the situation of these countries overseas, Shane said.

“We reach out to faculty who do research in some of these areas, contact several local sources and also check the latest State Department and International SOS warnings for updates,” Shane said.

When there is a clear and obvious danger to foreigners, most students will make the conscientious decision to look elsewhere for study abroad opportunities, Shane said.

In Tunisia, the environment is much more stable than in the past, but problems still flare up from time to time, said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at SU.

Countries like Jordan, Morocco and Turkey are much safer, and have become popular with students looking for the Middle Eastern experience, Boroujerdi said.

Currently, he said, SU has six students in Jordan this semester.

While some students have voiced their disappointment, Boroujerdi said there is no need for concern.

“I wouldn’t call it a major setback,” he said. “People might not get their primary country of choice, but some of these countries are undergoing turmoil and are not safe to visit.”

Boroujerdi co-teaches a summer program in Turkey called “The Road to Democracy in the Islamic World,” and said he has no reservations about taking students there this summer.
“It’s a Western-influenced country and a bridge between the East and West,” he said.

Students who go to Turkey get a different perspective, Shane said. It’s a stable country that provides students a glimpse of the rest of the Middle East.

For students unable to study abroad in the Middle East, the variety of Middle Eastern studies courses on campus provide an alternative, said Rania Habib, assistant professor of linguistics and Arabic.

The program offers a wide variety of courses in subfields like Arabic cultures, history and politics, she said.

“Students may be impacted by not being able to go to places they like to visit and explore culturally and socially,” Habib said. “A personal exposure to the culture and language the students are learning is invaluable.”

  • Arafat

    But, but, but didn’t the media and our President tell us the Arab Spring would change things for the better? Didn’t they tell us it would lead to an awakening of democracy, freedoms and new-found individual rights?
    It’s amazing how incredibly stupid the media is. It is obvious they know nothing about Islam and the fact that Islam is incompatible with democracy, freedom and individual rights. There is not one single Muslim country in the world today were individual freedoms thrive, where freedom of speech is respected or where freedom to criticize Islam is safe. This is no coincidence and reflects accurately on what sort of religion Islam is.
    Anyone with any knowledge of Islam could have predicted the outcome for the Arab Spring and it isn’t going to get any better any time soon.

  • Ivy Fox

    What a pathetically small and inaccurate view you have of the world. If you knew anything beyond the biased nonsense your undoubtedly passionate and ill-informed pastor has been telling you, you’d realize your statements are completely misinformed.

    Have you ever heard of the Ottoman Empire? You know, that 500-year-long dynasty in which all religions coexisted with equal rights? Or, you know, how about the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan? They just finished their own elections, and enjoy many of the same rights we do in the West.

    I beg you to reconsider our own history in the US, and remember the fact that our own country has dealt with racism, slavery and many other issues of human rights, despite our perceived lack of bias. Before the Thirteenth Amendment was passed, abolitionists had to fight the opinions of Christian congressmen and senators who adamantly believed slaves weren’t equal under the eyes of their god. Two years after our own civil war, how were those hopes of freedom looking for African Americans? Pretty shitty. To think these things happen quickly, in the Middle East or elsewhere, is both naive and ignorant.

    Your inability to see the faults in our own country is astounding and pathetic. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was the United States government, and neither will be the blooming democracies in the Middle East. In the meantime while you’re waiting, I suggest you get your head out of your ass and go read a history book or two.

  • Arafat

    Ivy, calm down and breath.

    I do not deny our countries role in human abuse. Quite the contrary – our country’s history is filled with unspeakable horrors. There is a difference, though, between our country and ANY Islamic country; and that difference could not run deeper.

    Our flawed, but great country has an inspired constitution that speaks to freedom even if we as Americans do no always live up to its aspirations. In sharp contrast to this Islam’s “constitution” if you will, speaks to discrimination, disrespect for non-Muslims, abhorence of individual freedoms, etc…

    I guarantee you, IVY, I know more about Islam than you. Far more. Your “understanding” of Islamic history is not accurate and your understanding of where the Arab Spring is heading is laughable – it is in complete defiance of every fact on the ground but this apparently does not stop you from being cocksure of your opinions.
    Maybe it is you, not I, who needs to read some history, but not the watered-down, PC history that you have apparently been forced fed.

  • Ivy Fox

    I guess it’s your word versus mine Arafat, as far as who knows more. What’s really naive is thinking that you can predict the future when the Arab Spring itself was not predicted by any of the prominent scholars in Middle Eastern Studies. Perhaps the world is not as clockwork as you like to think, and Muslims, especially the youth, are not so controlled by old-world thinking as you believe. We’ve been taught a pillar of Islam is its ability to change with time. Your outdated, Islam-hating ways simply do not keep up with these times of change.

    And look how far your “deep knowledge of Islam” has gotten you. Trolling the internet for student newspaper articles to comment on. Bravo, we are all awed by your superior knowledge of the world. Now go take your negativity elsewhere, where you’ll get the praise and credit you crave from equally backward and pompous Westerners.

  • Arafat

    Ivy writes, “We’ve been taught a pillar of Islam is its ability to change with time. Your outdated, Islam-hating ways simply do not keep up with these times of change.”

    Really? That’s nice.

    Yet throughout the world devout Islamic scholars – prominently those who teach at the most highly regarded Islamic school The Al’Azhar University in Cairo tell us you are absolutely wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion, or my word versus your word, it is an extablished fact that Islam is NOT amenable to change. This is why, of course, Islamists quote chapter and verse from the Quran before committing barbaric acts. This is why, of course, Egypt’s new leader quotes chapter and verse from the Quran when justifying his freedom-crushing constitution.
    And most compelling of all it is why Islamic countries refused to sign the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a declaration that guarantees equality for all people. Instead the Islamic delegation to the UN created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights – a declaration that entrusts all legal questions to Sharia law, or Allah’s law. And anyone who understands Sharia law understands the fact that non-Muslims, women, homosexuals and others are not equal to male Muslims.
    This is the reality, Ivy, and all your histrionics and accusations against me cannot obfuscate the truth.

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