August 21, 2011

Article: Arabic Immersion without Leaving the United States


Program immersed itself in Arabic language and culture here at home
By Sean D. Hamill
August 3, 2011

When the unrest began in Egypt this past January, Georges Montillet felt the reverberations all the way back in Pittsburgh and Washington, Pa.

"We were watching it carefully," said Mr. Montillet, director of the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute's Arabic language and cultural immersion program.

By Feb. 11, when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned and the stability there looked shaky at best, Mr. Montillet and Simin Curtis, CEO and founder of Pittsburgh Middle East Institute, made the difficult decision to not go abroad this year.

"There was no way we were going to get parents to let their kids go to Cairo like we did last year," said Ms. Curtis.

One of Ms. Curtis' Middle East Institute co-founders, Anahita Firouz Radjy, made the simple -- although challenging -- suggestion that they just create a domestic Arabic language immersion program, something unheard of in the region.

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