For students and teachers of the Arabic language
posted by Jeremy Palmer @ 19:06
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To Jeremy and any other Westerners studying in Damascus:Given the fact that you are American, how are people treating you? I am hoping to go to Damascus and study Arabic next summer (the Mahad or the U of D). I will at that point have taken 3 quarters at the Middle East Institute, in Washington, DC. Initially I was not very concerned about how people would receive me if they knew I am American, but given the recent violence, that began on 7-12-06, I am becoming increasingly concerned. Condi and Bush are not making many attempts to conceal the fact that they do not want the violence to stop immediately. I can only expect that the Bush administration's pro-war stance will only pour fuel on the fire when it comes to popular views of the US. Therefore, I am curious does anybody who is studying Arabic in Syria today feel tense or that they need to conceal their national background?
I am actually not in Damascus now and I am not unhappy about it. I'm sure Syria is still safe and great but the amount of anti American comments I got from 2004 - 2005 was more than enough to annoy; I can only imagine now that it would be worse. If you don't mind that kind of stuff or you want to lie and say you are from Canada (as I have heard from some Americans) - ahla wasahla. Casa is supposed to open a branch in Damascus in 2007. If that doesn't open because of the situation - you might think twice about going.
Jeremy: Thank you for your response. I am actually a little curious about the current situation. Although I understand you are no longer in Damascus and that you had experienced quite a bit of anti-American remarks when you were there, what about safety? I have actually been planning to go to Syria and Jordan in late August to do a little research on life on the ground and Arabic programs in Syria for a little while now. The recent violence in the region has led me to become a little concerned about my August 25 departure date. Gauging from your experience while you were in Damascus do you think it’s likely that given the current situation that people could lash out at people they believe to be American? To what extent do you think the violence over the border in Lebanon would affect the safety of Americans in Damascus or to Aleppo and Halab? I know that you are not there now but any insight would be very helpful.
I was in Damascus this summer and had not encountered any hostility from Syrians. Sure, the government officials are slightly paranoid during the paperwork process, but it's bearable. If anything, the people are more intrigued by our take on things, and of course our opinion of US leaders. Yet if you are a fan of the current admin, it's best to keep that to yourself. No need to lie about nationality though.
You are welcome at any time ... it is not a characteristic we Arabs and Muslims to hate someone else
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