The Department of Defense has granted Marquette $258,791 to send up to 15 ROTC students to Amman, Jordan, during the summer of 2013 to study Arabic.
The students will spend eight weeks, from June 15 to Aug. 8, in Jordan through Marquette's Project Go program, the university announced in an Oct. 22 press release. Project Go is a domestic or study abroad summer language program for ROTC students. The students will live with local families and take classes five hours a day, five days a week. The experience will count for 12 credits.
Army Cpt. Ross Schuchard said with the prominence of the language globally over the last decade, Arabic has become a "critical language."
"For instance, 40 years ago you received payment for having language skills in German, but over time, as we have evolved to what has become post-9/11, Arabic came to the forefront," Schuchard said.
He said Marquette was chosen for this grant mainly because of its Arabic program. Students who wish to go on the trip should show capabilities and interest in language learning.
Schuchard said the grant will only be open to ROTC students. All Marquette ROTC students are eligible to apply to any of the other 24 Project Go schools. Non-ROTC students are welcome to attend the program in Jordan, though they are not eligible for the grant.
"It is not a scholarship program; it is a program that is open to all of our cadets," Army Lt. Col. Michael Gibson said. "It doesn't have to be a cadet who is a scholarship student; it can be a cadet who is in our program but not on scholarship for ROTC."
Various Marquette leaders will select the 15 students to receive the grant through a voting system using three sets of votes. One vote will come from the Office of International Education, which will be coordinating the travel logistics. One vote will come from Arabic professor Enya Othman, who will be serving as supervisor and academic coordinator for the trip. ROTC leaders will have the third vote.
"(The students) decide if they want to apply and go on the trip, but they have to have a certain capability in a language to be selected, and that is where the three votes come in," Gibson said.
Erin LeMoine, the international communications coordinator of the Office of International Education, said grants such as this one help OIE expand its work.
"OIE study abroad staff develop the program and support students throughout the study abroad process," LeMoine said. "These grants provide us with the necessary funds to jump-start new innovative programs."
Gibson explained that while this is a fairly big grant, Marquette students have also won others from the Department of Defense.
"Our Department of Defense is pushing a lot of money and effort into these types of cultural programs, and this is just one of them," Gibson said. Last year, he said, ROTC sent 11 cadets around the globe through the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program. This summer, he hopes to see 15 to 20 cadets participating in cultural event programs.