Critical Language Scholarship Program | Ethan McHugh
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Ethan McHugh

Ethan McHugh is an alum­nus of the 2017 CLS Ara­bic pro­gram in Ibri, Oman. He recent­ly grad­u­at­ed from Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty with a bachelor’s degree in phi­los­o­phy and reli­gious Stud­ies. He is cur­rent­ly intern­ing at the Nashville Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter for Empow­er­ment where he assists refugees and immi­grants through an adult edu­ca­tion pro­gram. In the fall, he will begin a master’s degree pro­gram at the Cen­ter for Mid­dle East­ern Stud­ies of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin. Ethan hopes to live and work in the Mid­dle East after grad­u­ate school.

Draw­ing Par­al­lels 
I was born in Nashville, Ten­nessee and grew up in the Mid­dle Ten­nessee area. Ten­nessee cul­ture, as part of the Amer­i­can South­east, has a large empha­sis on food, fam­i­ly, and music. Dur­ing my time in Oman, I real­ized that although Oman is very dif­fer­ent from Ten­nessee, there are many par­al­lels between the two cul­tures that can be drawn upon for com­par­i­son. For instance, because of the empha­sis on food and fam­i­ly that exists in both cul­tures, I was able to high­light the dif­fer­ences between the two cul­tures against a back­drop of famil­iar­i­ty. The sim­i­lar­i­ties between the two cul­tures and my over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences in Oman have facil­i­tat­ed a more humane inter­est in the region in my fam­i­ly, friends, and peers alike. I have real­ly enjoyed being able to rep­re­sent Oman and Gulf cul­ture in such a gen­uine­ly enthu­si­as­tic way.

Tri­al and Error
One after­noon, my lan­guage part­ner was talk­ing with a fel­low stu­dent who had got­ten in the habit of mak­ing light­heart­ed quips to some of the lan­guage part­ners. After my lan­guage part­ner gave his rebut­tal, jok­ing­ly call­ing the stu­dent a prob­lem, I added that he was a Wal­ad Haram, trans­lat­ed in Eng­lish as for­bid­den child’ or ille­git­i­mate child.’ My lan­guage part­ner blushed and began to laugh hearti­ly, let­ting me know how seri­ous that title real­ly was. I could­n’t help but blush and let out a ner­vous laugh as I apol­o­gized. Even though it end­ed up being a pret­ty seri­ous blun­der, it was nonethe­less fun­ny and my lan­guage part­ner was very forgiving. 

Beau­ty of Ara­bic Lan­guage
One of my favorite parts of learn­ing Ara­bic is the pre­ci­sion of the lan­guage. While this can be a bit over­whelm­ing for a new learn­er, it becomes an incred­i­ble aspect of the lan­guage once you get past the sheer vol­ume of vocab­u­lary. I find Ara­bic gram­mar very clean, rigid, intu­itive, and I dare say enjoy­able. I also find it fas­ci­nat­ing how explic­it­ly embed­ded the world­view and cul­ture of the region is in the lan­guage. My favorite phrase in Omani Ara­bic is A7sant. It lit­er­al­ly means you did well,” but in com­mon usage it’s the equiv­a­lent of say­ing thank you” after some­one has done some­thing for you, hand­ed you some­thing, or assist­ed you in a sim­i­lar way. 


Alumni Profiles

Ethan McHugh
Ethan McHugh
Arabic 2017
Ibri, Oman

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Posted Date

July 23, 2018