In the weeks and months after 9/11, the talk in the United States was about the need to be better-prepared to understand the culture and languages of the Middle East. There was a surge of college students enrolling in Arabic and Persian. More than a decade later, that initial surge is showing signs of slowing down even while the world focuses on the Arab world again as homegrown pro-democracy movements shake up governments in the region.
A report unveiled Friday at the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association by the National Middle East Language Resource Center took stock of the state of Middle East language enrollments in higher education, and the challenges ahead, in part because of declining government support for such programs.
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