The department of language, philosophy and communication offers a variety of foreign language courses to USU students, including traditional Western favorites such as Spanish, German, French and Portuguese, and Eastern staples such as Russian, Chinese and Japanese.
Recently, however, Arabic was added to the curriculum. Marta Schaub, a senior majoring in biology, said she registered for the class because she thinks it is an important language to know in today's world.
"I feel like it is a really important language politically," Schaub said. "A lot of people don't really understand the culture, and there is a lot of anger, I've realized, in the U.S. toward Arabic-speaking nations."
According to the USU catalog, the department of language offers five courses in Arabic. Introduction to Islam is considered both an Arabic and religion course.
Jared Elton, who is enrolled in a lower-division Arabic class, said the program started in fall 2010.
"The reason why I'm taking this class is because I'm majoring in international studies, and I have an interest in the Middle East," he said. "I actually studied abroad and went to Egypt. I really liked learning about the culture of the Middle East, and I really liked the language."
Elton said he traveled to Egypt summer 2010 to study Arabic, just months before the Egyptian uprisings in early 2011.
"I missed out," he said.
Elton said he wants to work for the U.S. government and hopes that knowing Arabic will help him.
"It's an important language in the relations with the Middle East," said senior Kellie Norton, an international studies major and Elton's classmate. "This class has been really great."
The Arabic classes attract many international studies majors who are required to learn a language for their degrees.
"I chose Arabic because it's valuable," said Kevin Mitchell, a junior majoring in international studies. "You can get into a lot of government jobs and international businesses if you know it."
Morgan Bronson, a sophomore majoring in English education, said she also took Arabic because it was required for her degree.
"I want to get a bachelor of arts, which requires a language," she said. "When I couldn't get into a French class, I started flipping through the catalog and thought, 'We have Arabic? Done.' It's also useful because I'm minoring in (American Sign Language.)"
"I was just randomly scrolling through the classes available, and I saw Arabic and thought it looked really interesting," Schaub said. "I'm kind of competing with my siblings, trying to learn the most languages, and they haven't gotten to Arabic, So I'm winning."
Khalifa Alqahtani, a senior majoring in human resources, said he took Arabic to help American students learn the language.
"I am an Arabic native speaker, and this is my senior year, so I don't have too many classes to take," Alqahtani said. "I took the class to help American students learn Arabic, and I can see the improvement (so far).
Alqhatani said he helped classmate Travis Johnson learn to write poetry in Arabic.
"Khalifa knows his stuff," Johnson said.
Lindsey Miller teaches the 2:30 p.m. section of the basic Arabic class and said Arabic is the first step toward starting a Middle Eastern studies major.
"The history department had some pretty good Middle Eastern studies stuff, so they are trying to get up the Arabic program so that we can have that major," she said.
Megan Hurst, a senior majoring in international studies, said students fought to get the class offered on campus.
"I know that the students here two years ago did a big pitch to the College of Humanities because they wanted to learn more about the Middle East," she said. "We had a big, huge petition to sign to get Arabic here. The students wanted it."