Appalachian State University recently formed a partnership with the American University of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, which will allow both universities to exchange students and faculty.
While this agreement allows students to study the Arabic language in a place where it is commonly spoken, AURAK also gives students many other unique opportunities.
“We wanted to find opportunities for our students that are in our Arabic language program, but also we have students who are in [the] global studies [major] who would be interested in that region,” said Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development.
Lutabingwa said one of the main points of this agreement was to give students at Appalachian an opportunity to continue their studies in a region previously unopened to student exchange.
“Students have been going to the region through third party study abroad providers, but those are expensive for the students,” Lutabingwa said. “When our students go, for example, to study at this university, they will pay the same thing they pay here.”
Being an American university, the main language of instruction at AURAK is English.
“That makes it much easier for us to send students there who are not necessarily studying Arabic, but they are interested in the region,” Lutabingwa said. “So, students could go there to study anything that is offered [at AURAK] because they do not need to be worried about language issues.”
Lutabingwa said student exchange is not the only way Appalachian plans to strengthen this new relationship with AURAK. Student exchanges lay the foundation for other forms of connection between universities.
“We are also working on several different things for faculty exchange and faculty research,” Lutabingwa said. “While we start with the student exchanges, we continue to explore other opportunities for engaging each other.”
For instance, AURAK has a research center that focuses on renewable energy. Lutabingwa noted how facilities such as this could open opportunities for collaborative research in solar energy.
Sophomore global studies major Ramsey Wyles said she is pleased with the agreement because the global studies major has a Middle East focus and Appalachian offers a minor in Arabic.
However, Wyles has concerns with AURAK being an American University. Since English is the main language of the university, Wyles saw the possibility of students not fully engaging the culture of that region.
“My only worry is that you can be in the country physically but not culturally, and that isn’t really studying abroad in its fullest sense,” Wyles said.
However, Wyles expressed that, despite this one issue, she is definitely interested in taking part in this program and sees it as a good opportunity for any student at Appalachian interested in the region.
STORY: Josh Wharton, Intern News Reporter