The Middle East Center has been actively involved in political and social opportunities both on campus and worldwide for more than 50 years, providing ways to get involved in the Middle Eastern community, pursue language and study the region in depth.
As the center develops, so does the popularity of programs emphasizing economic issues in the Middle East. Seminars offered by the center have attracted professionals and students alike to study through the Middle East Working Group.
"As a previous student at the center, I got my degree in 1997 in Turkish language and literature, so I can offer personal advice to students who come in here seeking guidance," said June Marvel, academic adviser at the MEC. "Once it's in your blood to learn this, you'll want to do it for the rest of your life. And not many people are educated in Middle Eastern studies."
With just 17 Title VI National Resource Centers for the Middle East in the United States, the U is well-served by the Middle East Center.
The MEC wants to improve the quality of life in the Middle East through public service and to stimulate communication with scholars at other institutions who are also interested in the region. In addition, the center ensures strategic fundraising in order to support activities.
"We work with various student groups, such as the Model Arab League. A lot of students also come in here for general information such as where the nearest mosque is," said
Kellie Parker, executive secretary for the Center. "We also offer help for students doing reports on related subjects and anyone can come in to check out our DVDs, which range from feature films to documentaries."
Undergraduates can learn the diverse history of Middle Eastern countries from Turkey to Iran. Students also have the option to visit the places they learn about through study abroad programs.
"Our academic advising gives freshmen, transfer students and veterans alike face-to-face information and we sit nicely with many different majors such as international studies, conflict resolution and communication," Marvel said.
Undergraduates who are interested in Middle East Studies have the chance to learn Persian, Turkish, Arabic or Hebrew. Students can also participate in volunteer work with refugees in Salt Lake City as well as help in elementary schools with children who speak a Middle Eastern language.
"Language is considered critical for Middle Eastern Studies and the requirements for different courses can range from one year of language study to three," Marvel said. "These languages are first and foremost the primary knowledge needed in order to work or do business out there."