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International News | January 19, 2021

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An Invaluable Perspective on the Middle East

An Invaluable Perspective on the Middle East

Student Richard Hancock

“I knew I would gain an invaluable world perspective by studying and living in Jordan, ” explained Richard Hancock, an International Studies major and Global Education: Study Abroad student at the University of Colorado Denver. Drawn to the Levant region of the world, on a spring semester 2013 mission to harness the challenging Arabic language, Richard participated in an intensive semester study abroad program through CET, focusing on Arabic and cultural studies.

Searching for a field of study that was meaningful, worldly, and humanitarian, Richard chose to make Middle Eastern political and cultural studies his major and life pursuit.  He understood that in order to truly grasp the culture, language, and geopolitics of the Middle East, he would have to actually travel there, get acquainted, and get immersed.

Richard experienced  everyday life in Irbid:  large, festive Jordanian weddings in the street, delicious feasts of the traditional Mansef meal, and the immense hospitality and generosity of a collective and respectful society.

His day started at six in the morning with Arabic language studies, followed by classes for Middle Eastern cultural studies, then a lunchtime Arabic practice session with his local friends, plus time spent in visiting the city sights. In the evening, Richard returned to intensive Arabic language studies in his apartment. Living with Jordanian roommates, Richard was able to refine his Arabic practice at home, as well as provide an English language exchange for his friends.

During his semester abroad, Richard found ample opportunities to explore Jordan on different excursions. He experienced everything from staying at Bedouin camps in the desert of Wadi Rum, to swimming in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, to hiking along the ancient Nabatean ruins of Petra, the well-known UNESCO world heritage site, featured in the famous Hollywood film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Upon returning to the United States and CU Denver, Richard is anticipating his graduation in the spring of 2014 with a newly acquired motivation, passion, and world perspective. Looking ahead toward his future career path, Richard’s ambition is to return to the Middle East and utilize his advanced Arabic skills in order to pursue NGO work, specifically concerning topics of conflict- resolution and refugees in the region of the Levant. Additionally, Richard is inspired to take on the professional career path of teaching English at the Modern American School in Amman, Jordan.

Until then, Richard plans to apply his first-hand experiences, knowledge, and humanistic understanding of this important region of the Middle Eastern world to class discussions and presentations, uniquely contributing to the dialogue of his fellow College of Liberal Arts peers and professors in his final year at CU Denver.