Catherine Smith is an alumna of the 2016 CLS Arabic program in Ibri, Oman. She is currently a junior at Ohio State University majoring in criminology and international studies with a concentration in security and intelligence and a minor in Arabic. Despite the difficulties of being a first-generation college student, she decided to give back to her community and make a difference by going into government work. Catherine loves languages and uses any opportunity to throw out a phrase or two in a foreign language. Her favorite way to pass time is to set up camp in a study room and laugh with friends.

Why Arabic?

I believe that many people have misconstrued opinions of people from the Middle East and their culture so I choose to pursue Arabic in order to gain more of an informed opinion of the Middle East from those that live there. Based on recent events there has been a lot of antagonism directed toward the Middle Eastern community and I want to use my Arabic language skills to help me work with them in the future. I want to also use my language skills and cultural knowledge to help those living in these regions.

It’s the Little Things

Something that impacted the most during my summer on CLS was the relationships I made with the people I encountered in Oman. There were the nights that I would stay up with my fellow students talking about what happened in class, or the time my language partner and I were laughing because I had trouble saying “Arabic is hard” in Arabic, or the time our teacher took us to see a movie and we were all laughing together about how horrible it had been on the car ride back. These are pieces of Oman that I will always keep with me and I am glad that I still keep in contact with my friends and teachers.

Inner Strength

My experience with homelessness growing up helped immensely during my time in Oman because it allowed me to adapt to any situation or environment. I was still in the beginning stages of learning Arabic and it was hard at first not to use English in a country where Arabic was the official language. Thanks to my adaptability, I was able to adjust to my new surroundings.

Opportunities to Communicate

Arabic is a beautiful language and has a rich history and with the Middle East being a large area, knowing Arabic is extremely important for communicating with people from this vast region and understanding their culture. Learning Arabic has helped me become more open-minded and has given me more of a passion to want to learn more about the region.