It's well known there are many opportunities to become proficient in other languages at MU. A student can extensively study Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Latin, German, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Greek or Hebrew. However, there appears to be one language that's missing, and it already has an important place in our growing world system.
This year, one can take only three classes in Arabic: Elementary Arabic I and II and Humanities in Arabic. That's it, no minor, major, masters or doctorate. I find it, frankly, hard to understand why there is no larger program in Arabic offered, and it would seem it would make sense to take measures to better educate MU's students in a language that has political, religious and cultural weight in our world.
Think about it: there are 26 countries where Arabic is the official language, there are 48 which the majority of the people practice the religion that has Arabic embedded in its practices and texts and, in the world at large, more than a billion and a half people, more than one-fifth the world's population, probably know some Arabic because of that same faith.
So why are we not teaching this language? We're at war with terrorists from the places that Arabic originated. Our allies and those nations that aren't quite our allies in the Middle East are becoming increasingly important politically because of the war on terror and the dealings with Israel are economically important because of the massive quantities of oil in the region. Not to mention a growing religious demographic in our country-Islam-carries some Arabic with it.
It doesn't make sense to me that a student at MU can become proficient and have a degree in a language that is only spoken in one or two countries (Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Hebrew, etc.) but cannot learn one spoken across the world and has a bigger place on the world stage.
And think about the potential for jobs as translators. Diplomats, journalists, politicians, businessmen and any number of people in our world already travel extensively to the region, and I'm sure there is a demand for Arabic translators in this country.
Don't get me wrong — I'm not saying the other languages should be cut from the school. Learning any language besides one's own is an important and valuable skill. But it's obvious that some languages have a more significant role on the world stage than others; not that they're more important than others, but they might be more valuable in the corporate, political or cultural scene in the years to come.
MU would be right to give its students the opportunity to learn Arabic. The school consistently claims it's training the next generation of well functioning members and leaders of society, yet this is one obvious hole in the possible education at MU.
Coming to MU, I know I intended to try to learn Arabic above the elementary level. But that's just me.