Arabic and Islamic Studies personal statement
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" - Ludwig Wittgenstein
Even as a young child languages have been important to me. I used to try to sing along with hit tunes on the radio and watched movies without subtitles from an early age, all to improve my English skills. I used to converse in English with my mother at the breakfast table and drag my little sister into it as well, and she hated me for it. I understood that the knowledge of a language other than your own expands the boundaries of life and gives you the possibility to experience more of the world in a greater scale. I even took the time to learn some Turkish, by myself at the age of 16, and to this day I still remember a few words. Language is a barrier that can be overcome. English was my first step towards broadening my horizon and I plan to make Arabic my next.
I enrolled in a basic Arabic course for one semester outside my normal studies, at Folkuniversitetet in Gothenburg to try to learn the basics of the language and learn a few helpful phrases to expand the vocabulary I already had. This January I am leaving for Cairo, Egypt to enroll at a language institute where I will be taking a beginners course expanding over three and a half month in Egyptian spoken Arabic and Modern written Arabic.
I think that my admiration for the Middle-East started when I was very young. I saw a movie which contained images of these amazing large, dome-shaped buildings and the vast orange desert horizons. Aladdin might not be the most accurate in describing today's Middle-East but it sure got my attention back then. I remember watching that movie over and over again and dreaming of the street markets and princess Jasmines' pet tiger Rajah.
When I got the opportunity to move to the "real" Middle-East, to the United Arab Emirates and work, I didn't hesitate a bit. I organized my flight and left only a few months after I was offered the job. Travelling through the desert each morning to my office was an amazing start of the day. My fascination for the Middle-East really came to grow into love. My two year stay in Ras Al Khaimah offered a lot of possibilities: Not only work-related but on a more personal level as well. I met a wide variety of people from so many regions of the world, many of them from the war struck countries in the area. I heard many stories from friends from Palestine, telling me about having to sleep on floors in refugee camps; being frightened of missiles and the military. Whilst hearing others growing up in Lebanon worried about cluster bombs and landmines when walking to school. You get very humble and realise how fortuned you are and at the same time you understand that you need to get involved somehow, try to take your own luck in life and to pass it on to someone else. This is what made me to take the decision to move back home to finish my pre-university studies to have the possibility to enter University and finish my degree.
I hope to work within the UN or a related organisation based in these countries, specifically working with women and youth. When I got back to Sweden the first thing I did was to get in contact with 'Doctor without Borders' and 'Ship to Gaza' to see if there was some way for me to be of assistance, even if it was just financial.
What is going on in the countries of the Arabic part of the world is not something that only involves the Middle-East, it also affects us. Politics is something that affect everyone. Call it the butterfly effect, but that' how it is. With the latest reports from the IAEA and the so called "Arabic spring" I feel more compelled than ever to get involved. There is only so much I can read about and teach myself and I am hoping for the opportunity to enter a classroom with tutors and study groups who share my passion for humanity and the possibility to make a difference.
This personal statement was written by Charleh for application in 2012.
Arabic & Islamic Studies at School of Oriental and African Studies