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cecilia kuehnel, jordan, 2015-2016

When she graduates from UGA in May 2016 with degrees in Arabic and German, Cecilia Kuehnel plans to join the U.S. Air Force, and she strongly believes that overseas service is greatly enhanced by the knowledge of several languages.

“(Airmen) must interact with civilians by showing a knowledge and appreciation of culture, by learning the languages and dialects, or by respecting certain beliefs and traditions of the region,” Cecilia, from Decatur, says. “Relationships built on a foundation of understanding and respect enable aid and cooperation to take place while creating a strong bond between both parties.

“My goal is to become an effective and culturally aware Airman who can bridge the gap between Arabic-speaking civilians and our military. My insight into Middle Eastern culture and my linguistic skills in Arabic and regional dialects will assist me in this task.”

In her Boren-funded program, Cecilia will study Arabic at Princess Sumaya University of Technology in Amman, Jordan through the Council on International Educational Exchange’s Arabic Language and Culture program. While in Jordan, Cecilia will take courses in Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial Arabic, as well as courses in Jordanian history and culture.

Cecilia’s voyage to Amman represents her third study abroad experience. She spent time in Rabat, Morocco as a student in the National Security Languages Initiative for Youth program, and she studied at the Center for Languages and Culture in Marrakech, Morocco during UGA’s Morocco Maymester.

Her devotion to language is emphasized by the many programs she’s involved herself in to strengthen her own skills and the skills of others. During her time at UGA, Cecilia worked as a teaching assistant in beginning Arabic classes, and she tutors students outside class in large and small groups. She also served as a German tutor at the Federal Service Language Academy in Dahlonega.

“My experience instructing classes as an Arabic teaching assistant and tutor has been rewarding and will continue to play a great role in my learning of the language,” she says. “I want to continue with these activities while preparing for a career.”

During the respite between semesters, Cecilia said she will engage in cultural activities in Amman, much like she did last summer when she visited Essouria and Meknes, creating connections and improving her Arabic skills.

“The unique relationship I have built with the Arabic language as a student, traveler, and teacher continues to lead me to my next step.”

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