Andrew Loftenses, a graduate student enrolled in Salve Regina’s master’s degree program in international relations, first studied Arabic during a pre-deployment course for U.S. Marines at San Diego State University. He applied what he learned and continued his studies during his deployment to Iraq, where he practiced Arabic on a daily basis with Iraqi soldiers and civilians.
“During this real-world immersion, I practiced speaking in both casual settings over morning tea, as well as during professional security situations,” Loftenses said. “It was during this time that I saw firsthand how much the Iraqis appreciated my attempts to learn their language while in their country, and the doors of hospitality which that opened up. I am eagerly seeking a return to that fully immersive Arabic experience.”
Loftenses was recently awarded a prestigious Boren Fellowship to fund immersive study in Arabic language and culture at the Lirom Language Center in Jerusalem and with the Druze community in Mt. Caramel near Haifa, Israel. Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, Boren Fellowships fund language study in world regions critical to U.S. interests.
During the six-month fellowship, Loftenses will aim to master the Arabic language, of which he has a basic understanding from his deployment. While in Jerusalem, he will study with a tutor. “I’m going to tell him, ‘let’s go out on the streets and walk around.’ That’s how I want to learn, by interacting with people. I want to get out and talk to the locals and be out of my comfort zone,” he said. During his time in Haifa, he will stay with a host family selected by Boren, and will have the opportunity to volunteer in the community.
“The success in international relations are the human relationships,” Loftenses said. “I saw this in Iraq, and it will be important to national security. Completing a period of study in Jerusalem and the Druze community of Mt. Caramel will equip me with invaluable Arabic language skills and cultural exposure. I will use this knowledge to influence effective national security policy for the United States through the duration of what I intend to be a long career in national security at the forward point of friction.”
After completing his immersion studies through Boren and completing his graduate degree at Salve Regina, Loftenses plans to return to the United States to continue Arabic lessons via Live Lingua, and to ultimately pursue a career in national security. He is hoping to live in Washington, D.C. to work with the Department of State, and to further his Arabic studies at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center.