Cal State San Bernardino has received a $195,000 federal grant to teach Persian, the national language of Iran, which is also widely spoken in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and other Central Asian counties that have become critical to U.S. business and security interests.
The five-week program begins on June 27 and will provide housing, tuition, meals and field trips for up to 24 students who will have the option of continuing study during the academic year. Participants will also have the opportunity to study abroad in a Persian-speaking country next summer.
The grant is part of the Strategic Language Initiative, a federal program based at Cal State Long Beach designed to develop professional language skills in Persian, also known as Farsi, as well as Russian, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Dari and Pashto at several of Cal State's 23 campuses.
The Persian program will emphasize current affairs, with students listening to Persian broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America, analyzing newspaper headlines, viewing Persian-language movies and taking field trips to cultural venues in Southern California's large Iranian American community, where Los Angeles is frequently referred to as "Tehrangeles."
Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are pursuing fields in the nonprofit sector, intelligence, public service and other areas, said Cal State San Bernardino professor Dany Doueiri, who directs the Arabic language program on campus and will oversee the Persian program.
The Persian program had been housed at Cal State Fullerton but was dropped there because of state funding cuts, Doueiri said.
Besides the Persian program, the San Bernardino campus offers intensive study in the Arabic language and culture for college and high school students, including 13 students who are studying in Amman, Jordan, this summer.