Mason Student Wins Scholarship to Study in Jordan

Posted: May 22, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

As George Mason graduates are preparing to enter the business world or graduate school, one student will participate in a brand-new study abroad program through the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC).

Christopher Anzalone, a graduating senior with a major in history and religious studies and a minor in Islamic studies, will spend the summer studying Arabic after receiving a DoS/CAORC Critical Language Scholarship.

Anzalone will study modern standard Arabic and colloquial Jordanian-spoken Arabic at the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan.

Chris Anzalone
Chris Anzalone
Photo by Mark Strandquist

The scholarship award covers travel to and from Jordan, room and board, tuition and textbooks. He will also receive a $1,000 stipend.

After his summer study, Anzalone, an editorial apprentice for the Mason Gazette for the past two years and a longtime employee of the student newspaper, Broadside, will begin graduate studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

At Indiana, he will study Near Eastern languages and cultures with a focus on Arabic language and literature and Islamic studies. He says he hopes the Jordan program will help him further his goal of earning a doctorate and eventually teaching Middle Eastern and Islamic history at the university level.

“My research interests relate to the politicization of Twelver Shi‘ite Islam, in countries such as Lebanon, Iran and Iraq,” he says. “Specifically, I’m interested in studying the ideologies and practical implementation of these ideologies by groups such as the Lebanese Hizbu’llah and the traditionalist leadership, exemplified by people such as Grand Ayatullah Sayyid ‘Ali al-Sistani.”

Anzalone mentions Mason professors Sumaiya Hamdani, Peter Mandaville, Maria Dakake, and John Barclay Burns as being instrumental in helping him decide his career path.

He adds, “The Islamic Studies program, with its global approach to the study of Muslim societies, has played an integral role in forming my understanding of Islam as a complex religion with a rich history that has spawned myriad multifaceted cultures that continue to have a profound impact on the modern world.”

Mandaville, associate professor of government, supervised Anzalone when he worked as a teaching assistant for courses on the Middle East and political Islam last fall.

“As an undergraduate, he was performing much more like many of the advanced graduate students I have worked with,” says Mandaville. “He has an instinctive aptitude for scholarship, and I expect him to contribute great things to the field of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.”

Anzalone has known Hamdani, associate professor of history and art history and director of the Islamic Studies program, for several years as a student in many of her courses and an assistant with the minor.

“Christopher has formidable research skills, and this is due in large part to his exceptional work ethic. Apart from excelling as a student in terms of being prepared for class and always outperforming other students on exams and papers, he also devoted an incredible amount of time to pursuing research and readings on his interests,” she says.

Anzalone studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the summer of 2003 and has traveled previously to Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

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