Students learn to avoid faux pas in Arab culture

by Aaron Daniels

Students in the class never shake with their left hands, don’t show the bottoms of their feet and can never turn down tea.

Simpson College began a new course this semester, Intro to Arabic. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-7:30 p.m.

“The students learn interesting facts of the Arabic culture such as why they don’t use their left hand when shaking hands because it’s considered unclean,” Instructor Daniel Klass said. “They also learn that they never show the bottoms of their feet and always to accept tea whenever offered.”

Intro to Arabic focuses on the history and culture of Arab countries. The basic fundamentals of the Arabic language are also taught.

Senior Justin Allen finds said the language lessons are both useful and challenging.

“We learn sentences that you would use if speaking the language,” Allen said. “Learning random words is useless unless your able to incorporate them into sentences.”

Klass said what students learn in this class can be very helpful later on in life.

“This course surfaces an important bridge for international understanding with others, such as being able to communicate,” Klass said.

Many students enrolled in the course are interested in gaining an international perspective.

Senior Craig Vasquez said having a basic understanding of Arab culture and language gives him a head start for the career he’s chosen.

“I heard that Simpson was offering it as a new course and I thought it would be interesting, and me being a Criminal Justice major makes the class more relevant toward what I want in a career,” Vasquez said. “A course such as this also makes you more marketable especially when in the Criminal Justice field.”

Allen agreed that learning about Arabic culture could be useful down the road.

“I wanted to get in the Criminal Justice field, and having minimal knowledge of their culture I thought it would be beneficial,” Allen said.

Many of the cultural nuances the class is learning may seem useless, but for students whose careers will require contact with other cultures, even the smallest details can become extremely important.

“I feel this class is pretty equivalent to what you would learn in any English course, just in Arabic,” Allen said. “Understanding another language and culture is a good way to open your mind and prepare you for what’s to come later on in life.”