After completing five semesters of Arabic language classes at Cedarville University, Grace Pilet, a senior comprehensive communication major from Geneva, N.Y., decided to finish her undergraduate education in Amman, Jordan.
Pilet has a minor in Middle Eastern Studies and enjoys learning about the Middle East. She decided to travel to Amman, Jordan, because she wanted to learn about and communicate with the people. "I decided that immersing myself in the language and culture was the best way to learn about the Middle East beyond Arabic courses offered at Cedarville," she said.
While in Amman, Pilet has continued to study Arabic as well as traveling to Turkey, Israel, and Petra -- one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Before she left the United States, Pilet received the Gilman Scholarship award from the U.S. State Department. The Gilman Scholarship offers awards for undergraduate students to study abroad.
For this scholarship, she has been collecting footage for a documentary on the Middle East to present to the State Department when she returns to the U.S.
"I have already interned for a government office in the States, so being able to grasp some more Arabic language is going to help me a lot for furthering a career with the government." Pilet has also gained understanding of women's rights in the Middle East, "I felt that I needed to experience firsthand what the women are going through here. I have seen and learned so much."
Pilet said learning a language like Arabic often feels like an uphill battle. She found that focusing on the small successes in communicating kept her encouraged. "Anytime I am able to get the taxi to go where I actually wanted, I always feel successful," she said.
The Arabic classes Pilet took at Cedarville prepared her with a solid foundation in the Arabic language. After taking Arabic classes, Pilet said, "I could read and write the language and knew how to craft sentences."
Elizabeth Wright, Ph.D., adjunct professor of English literature and modern language, said, "The Middle East Studies minor provides students with basic information about the Middle East, which gives them a framework of knowledge that they can add to while they are abroad."
"The Middle East is endless with exciting things to see, do, and eat. Every day is an adventure. I have learned that it is important to get out and just experience the things happening around me," said Pilet.