In the fall of 2013, Syracuse University students will be given the opportunity to study at yet another unique location: Tunisia.
The Tunisia program is the result of a partnership between SU Abroad and CET Academic Programs, an organization SU Abroad has previously worked with and remains confident in, said Sue Shane, director of programs at SU Abroad.
SU Abroad is confident that students will remain safe in Tunisia, despite the country's past uprisings. CET's program is small and follows careful safety guidelines, so SU Abroad does not anticipate any problems, Shane said.
Shane said she doesn't think students will feel at risk. But students are still urged to be careful, given the country's geographic location.
CET formerly ran a highly successful Arabic program in Syria, but relocated to Tunisia when uprisings in Syria began, Shane said.
"It's another example of having to be flexible and trying to create new options as the world changes," she said.
Although the program is open to all students, including those just starting to learn Arabic, it is aimed toward students who want to become more immersed in the language.
"When students study Arabic in an Arab country, they don't only learn the modern standard Arabic, but they get the chance to learn a dialect as well," said Rania Habib, an assistant professor of linguistics and Arabic.
"With language barriers comes cultural barriers. It's challenging, but students are given the tools to succeed," said Sue Shane, director of programs at SU Abroad.
Students will be required to fully immerse themselves in the language, speaking only Arabic throughout the program, Habib said. Speaking English is highly discouraged.
"If you don't use the language, you're not going to get the same results," she said.
With language comes culture. In addition to an intensive Arabic curriculum, students will also be exposed to local life, Habib said.
Students will have Tunisian roommates, live in dorm-style housing and have a Tunisian language partner to practice Arabic with. The goal is to surround students with what Shane referred to as "friendly forces."
"With language barriers comes cultural barriers," Shane said. "It's challenging, but students are given the tools to succeed."
Students may find the language and cultural barriers difficult, but many find that their purpose for studying abroad is achieved via cultural immersion, Shane said.
"When obstacles are framed as a learning experience, it makes all the difference," she said.
Although the program is not set to open until fall 2013, Shane said SU Abroad will consider letting students go as early as this spring. Information on the Tunisia program will be presented at the Middle East Partner Programs information session on Sept. 12.
"It's an exciting time," Shane said. "To see new democracies forming is an opportunity that doesn't come every generation."