The Near East is the more accurate way of referring to the region generally called the Middle East, former http://www.maplewoodhs.mnps.org/site121.aspx">Maplewood valedictorian Adrian Mackie believes.
Mackie, a Madison resident, knows a lot about that part of the world as a student athttp://www.mtsu.edu/">Middle Tennessee State University.
He will learn more this summer being selected for a http://www.state.gov/">United States State Department scholarship to study the Arabic language in Amman, Jordan, June 13-Aug. 17.
Mackie has a double major in anthropology and international relations with an emphasis on the Middle East region.
He believes language is crucial to communication and understanding to foreign policy.
"What drew me is why people fight and why they fight as long as they do," Mackie said. "I went to Maplewood and saw my fair share of fights. The first way to mediate conflict is to understand both sides."
Mackie is on schedule to graduate from MTSU in the spring of 2011. He plans to go to graduate school with an emphasis on "Near Eastern," studies. He may go into teaching or have a career in government, he said.
Last year, Mackie was selected for a U.S. State Department Gilman Scholarship to study Arabic and Middle East politics at the American University in Dubai.
This year, Mackie applied for the State Department's Critical Language Scholarship with a focus on languages. Mackie was one of 575 students selected for the scholarship that sends students to 7-10 weeks of language training in 15 countries.
There were more than 5,300 applicants for the scholarship.
Mackie was one of 185 picked for the Arabic program and will study the language 12 hours a day, he said. He expects to see some sights as well, like the Dead Sea. It's Mackie's fourth year to study Arabic.
"Arabic is hard," Mackie said. "The grammar is difficult, but in many ways it's easier than learning English. We have a large Arabic population in Tennessee."
Mackie resides with his grandparents in Madison.