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In her first two years at UGA, Stephanie Stewart has pursued immersive language study in both Arabic and Spanish, having spent two months in AMIDEAST’s Summer Intensive Arabic Program in Rabat, Morocco, and a spring semester in Madrid, Spain.

“Living with Arabic speakers in Morocco pushed me to use my language skills over a wider breadth of topics than any other social situation and was integral to my language improvements,” says Stephanie, a Foundation Fellow (’19) who is majoring in international affairs, physics, and gender studies. “Through conversations about politics, life, and religion, I learned more about the culture and actual citizens’ perspectives of their world.”

After a summer in Greece, teaching English at a women’s shelter, and with a Boren Scholarship in hand, Stephanie’s next step in her Arabic language studies will be an academic year in Muscat, Oman, first at the Center for International Learning and then at Sultan Qaboos University. Through direct enrollment at Sultan Qaboos University, Stephanie will take the courses necessary to remain on track for her physics degree, while also taking in-depth Arabic linguistic courses not offered through traditional Arabic language programs.

Noting that in Yemen’s war-torn society, women play a key role in caring for children and displaced residents but don’t have seats at the mediation or negotiating tables in peace-building, Stephanie says her long-term goal is to be able to “understand Gulf state culture to better understand how to include women in peace talks.” Her education in Oman will be central to both her linguistic studies and cultural awareness.

As part of her Boren service requirement, Stephanie hopes to work at the U.S. Department of State in either the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs or the Office of Global Women’s Issues.

“I would like to work within the interagency task force implementing the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security,” she says, adding she plans to pursue a master’s degree and Ph.D. in either conflict or gender studies to one day assist the U.S. in developing relationships with local initiatives aimed at supporting female political participation via education initiatives in states where extant gaps in school enrollment and literacy hobble the achievement of gender equality.

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