By J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 22, 2005
CIA recruiters may be more interested in what languages you speak rather than your major when they visit the UA campus tomorrow.
CIA representatives said the UA's department of Near Eastern studies, the department of Slavic studies and the center for Middle Eastern studies make the UA an attractive campus to recruit students.
Students fluent in Arabic and Persian are in high demand because 90 percent of the information the CIA collects is from foreign open sources like newspapers or television broadcasts, said CIA recruiter David Burris.
Martha Schulte-Nafeh, a professor for Near Eastern Studies and a Mideast language coordinator for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said she isn't surprised about the strong interest the CIA has taken in UA students.
Even though the UA Arabic language classes have an incredibly demanding curriculum, the program has seen a strong increase in enrollment since Sept. 11, 2001, Schulte-Nafeh said.
"We are setting the bar really high," Schulte-Nafeh said. "We hold students' feet to the fire."
For every hour that students are in class, they are expected to spend two hours studying Arabic, Schulte-Nafeh said.
UA Arabic programs distinguish themselves from other university programs by promoting a variety of intensive Arabic programs that focus on immersion in the Arabic language.
Many UA students have been accepted to the Arabic School at Middlebury Vermont, which is considered to be one of the primary destinations for students who wish to become fluent in Arabic.
The students who attend the program at Middlebury take a language pledge, Schulte-Nafeh said.
"They must eat, sleep and live Arabic," she said.
The CIA is not just interested in Arabic speakers.
Students fluent in Slavic languages are also in high demand.
The Russian and Slavic studies departments concentrate on teaching the language to students so they can become fluent, said Teresa Polowy, department head for Russian and Slavic studies.
"We really focus on language training," Polowy said. "The fact that government agencies are aware of our track record is a good sign."
Students can make a reservation to speak with a CIA representative tomorrow by calling (520) 323-5820 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Informational sessions will start at 11:30 a.m. at the Tucson Marriot University Park, 880 E. Second St.