Scholarship Takes Mason Student to Cairo for the Summer

Posted: June 29, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

This summer, George Mason student Seth Atterholt is studying Arabic in the Middle East as a result of winning a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State/Council of American Overseas Research.

Atterholt was one of three Mason students selected for a scholarship under the program. There were more than 1,200 applicants for the scholarships, and 30 were awarded.

Most of the applicants, Atterholt included, are international studies, foreign affairs or government majors. However, unlike other undergraduates who were awarded the same scholarship and assigned to a specific location in Tunisia, Jordan or Egypt, Atterholt chose to study in Cairo.

“I chose Cairo because it is a great place to learn Arabic, the reason being that the Egyptian dialect of Arabic is the most widely understood colloquial form. One in every three Arabs is Egyptian.”

Atterholt is currently in Cairo and will return in mid-August before Mason’s fall semester begins.

The government and international politics major studies all day Sunday through Wednesday at the American Research Center in Cairo, which is adjacent to the U.S. Embassy. The classes consist of lessons in Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial Egyptian Arabic.

On Thursdays, Atterholt, along with other U.S. undergraduate students awarded the same scholarship, attends field trips in and around Cairo.

“I was awarded the scholarship based on my interest in the Arabic language,” says Atterholt. “My goal in Egypt is to learn as much Arabic as possible, focusing both on Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial Arabic.”

Atterholt was looking forward to putting Arabic to use outside the classroom setting. “I like to practice Arabic on individuals I meet.”

Under the scholarship, travel, lodging and educational expenses are paid for and recipients receive a stipend for personal expenses. Funds for the scholarship are provided by the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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