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“Endlessly fascinating”: What CASA Alum Have to Say

CASA alumni give testimonials about their experiences.

These quotes appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of AUCToday, as part of our feature story on CASA.

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“CASA’s formidable and excellent curriculum and faculty not only cemented my mastery of Arabic, but also motivated me to pursue a career path in Arabic language instruction. A year after graduating from CASA, I was launching an Arabic program at Friends Seminary in New York City. Eight years later, I launched another at Kalamazoo College. Also, the fascinating and diverse projects being undertaken all over the world by my cohort (2006-2007) provide a constant source of inspiration.”

— Anna Swank (CASA ’07)
Kalamazoo College’s First Arabic-Language Professor

Learning Arabic in the CASA program was like spending a year in a different historic
age. By the time the academic year finished, I was pretty exhausted but had reached a level of fluency that I had not imagined possible.

— Paul K. Anderson (CASA ’83)
Part-Time Student, Laney College

“CASA was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. At the university level, I’ve been teaching Arabic for close to 30 years, largely on the strength of having completed my PhD in religion, with my dissertation on the early Arabic-language versions of the Book of Job.”

— Steven P. Blackburn (CASA ’73)
Curator of the Arabic Collection, Hartford Seminary

The importance of my CASA experience in setting my career path was second only to that of my initial decision to study Arabic. My time in Egypt was truly formative for me both personally and professionally, and the opportunity to spend first a summer and then a full year in the intensive study of Arabic enabled me to develop the basis for the speaking and research competencies that have been critical to my success as an academic in the field of Middle East politics and international relations.

— Laurie Brand (CASA ’79)
Robert Grandford Wright Professor of International Relations and Middle East Studies and Director of the Middle East Studies Program, University of Southern California

“My year at CASA in Cairo back in 2005-2006 was one of the most rewarding professional experiences in my life. It allowed me to really begin to develop confidence with my Arabic language abilities and was crucial in jump-starting my career as a translator of Arabic literature. CASA helped a few of us students set up a course in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry with the renowned Dr. Farouk Shousha, and that was a key moment for me. The course was delightful and informative in every way. And now, over a decade later, I have just received a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to translate that very same poetry. Thank you, CASA!”

Kareem James Abu-Zeid (CASA ’06)
Scholar, Writer, Editor and Award-Winning Translator

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