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UW’s International Studies Program Receives Department of Defense Grant for ROTC Students to Study Abroad

July 20, 2021

A University of Wyoming program that teaches Arabic and Middle East studies is the recipient of a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) award to support Arabic training for ROTC students at home and abroad.

UW’s Arabic and Middle East Studies Program, in the School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, was awarded a $461,000 grant for the coming year. It may be extended up to five years based on quality of performance, says Eric Nigh, an assistant lecturer and the program’s director.

The grant, titled “Project Global Officer” (Project GO), allows students participating in ROTC programs at UW and nearby universities on Colorado’s Front Range and surrounding states to travel to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for a summer language program.

Students will first enroll in a two-credit spring semester preparation course taught by Ali Raddaoui, originally from the University of Sfax in Tunisia, which is the Wyoming National Guard’s institutional DOD state partner. Following this preparatory language and cultural orientation, students will spend 10 weeks during the summer learning Arabic in Jordan. Students who have participated in Project GO then are eligible to continue their Arabic studies at UW in subsequent years through online courses provided by the university’s Arabic and Middle East Studies Program.

“Through funding made available by this grant, UW will provide Middle East study-abroad opportunities to ROTC students at UW and other regional universities with ROTC programs,” Nigh says. “UW will become a leader in paving the way for the creation of Arabic language study-abroad opportunities for ROTC students at universities in our region.”

Project GO is a collaborative initiative that promotes critical language education, study abroad and intercultural dialogue opportunities for ROTC students. The program focuses on the languages and countries of Africa, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and South America.

The DOD program, sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office, and administered by the Institute of International Education, provides grants to U.S institutions of higher education with ROTC student enrollments. Since 2007, Project GO institutions have provided more than 5,600 domestic and overseas summer scholarships to ROTC students for critical language study. To learn more about the program, go to www.rotcprojectgo.org/.

UW students and others from surrounding universities will have their tuition and course fees paid through the DOD grant.

“By co-opting students from universities without Arabic programs, we anticipate that around 10 additional students will continue taking Arabic at UW, in addition to the students we already have,” Nigh says. “UW students have participated in past Project GO study-abroad opportunities throughout other universities, but this is the first time we have become a sending institution.”

The DOD grant implementation team will be led by Nigh in partnership with Shawn Bunning, a project coordinator in the UW Global Engagement Office. The grant will support a full-time, benefited coordinator -- Sgt. Samuel Bunn, hired through UW’s Arabic and Middle East Studies Program; Raddaoui, who is the lead preparatory instructor; a full-time graduate assistant in the master’s degree program in international studies; and multiple Arabic tutors.

For more information about the program, email Nigh at enigh@uwyo.edu.

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