Saturday, August 1, 2009

CLS's version of "a cultural exachange"

Woot woot for guest blogging. This one from my often sardonic friend Zack. He speaks:

This entire week of FusHa class we had discussions. That is, we didn’t learn anything new from the book; we didn’t review what we had learned through the summer. For 12 hours we sat around and talked about various issues: from the mundane to the somewhat important.

By hour 7 we had basically run out of things to say to each other. But our instructor sat down with my 4-person group and urged us to continue.

Following current events, I decided to explain to our instructor about the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the U.S. Armed Forces and how roughly 50 Arabic language translators have been fired for violating that policy.

The instructor interrupts me to ask a follow up. “So, 50% of Americans are gay? And why are they all studying Arabic?!”

Ok, I maintain that I properly explained this situation and that my instructor was just “joking around” (Two of my fellow discussion participants agree with this; one was thoroughly offended by the instructor).

But then he went on to exclaim that he’d be concerned when his wife asks that they visit America. He’ll be sitting on the train and someone will lean over to him, “Excuse me, do you speak Arabic?” As if this was some sort of sub-culture pick-up line (Of course, it would be uttered in perfect FusHa).

We couldn’t help but laugh. Awkwardly, to be certain. But we did eventually get our point across. Our instructor agreed with the decision to fire the Arabic linguists at a time when they’re most needed, however: they could be spies.

In case you’re wondering (as I came away wondering) why it does seem that so many Arabic translators are gay: I asked a knowledgeable source, who told me that there are over a thousand (if not thousands) Arabic translators in the Department of Defense.

And, as another classmate pointed out, at least our instructor didn’t spin a conspiracy theory about the U.S. creating an Army of Gay Arabic Speakers to corrupt the Arab World.

Because this is Shev's blog, I have to include a song. So here's the Anthem of the Egyptian Elite: George Michael's “Careless Whisper.” It's been in my head all week.

A prime example of the type of letter Liz referred to in her post:

Dear Zack,

Nice post. It's been fun spending time with you in the Orient. I'll miss you.


PS thanks for the song

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