Madeleine Rodish is an alumna of the 2019 CLS Arabic program in Tangier, Morocco. She’s currently a senior at the University of Arizona, majoring in Global Studies, Arabic, and Middle Eastern and North African Studies. After graduation, Madeleine hopes to continue her Arabic studies abroad and work toward a career in the foreign service or international human rights law, using her Arabic skills to build connections between world regions.
Inspired to Explore
I primarily grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. I love my hometown as Arizona has a unique blend of different cultures. I primarily attribute my passion for learning about different languages, cultures, and traveling around the world to my mom. She raised my brother and me in an internationally-aware home, always cooking us meals from all over the world and teaching us about different cultures. My mom’s love for cooking has definitely been passed onto me as every time I travel to a new country, I love to experience the culture through the food and cooking.
Learning through Cooking
The experience during the CLS program that had the greatest impact on me is a culmination of all the memories I have in my host aunt’s kitchen trying to learn how to cook famous dishes such as tagine and couscous. I loved furthering my skills in Arabic by learning new words for all the ingredients we used. I also had the amazing opportunity to help my host aunt out in the kitchen during Eid al Adha. I especially cherish this moment as it led me to build such a strong connection with my host family and helped me to appreciate Moroccan culture in a new way.
I have always been interested in languages and cultures that were different from anything I had ever known about or been exposed to, and was particularly drawn to the regions of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. I decided to study Arabic based on the fact that it touched each of these areas of the world. Upon beginning my study of Arabic, I immediately fell in love with the language. Everything from listening, speaking, reading, and writing the language drew me in and I knew then that I would continue studying Arabic for a long time.
I would recommend anyone study Arabic, as knowledge of the language is a great asset. The Middle East is a region that is not always regarded in the best light; people see media which only highlights the worst of the area and are mostly exposed to negative stereotypes about the world’s nicest people. One of the best and most beautiful parts of learning a language is that it can truly help one learn about a different culture, religion, and way of life from a perspective that is authentic. This helps negate harmful stereotypes and build more peaceful relationships.
Arabic is such a rewarding language to learn because of the level of difficulty. With any language there are high and low points of language development and at times Arabic can be difficult, but working through those points and advancing to new levels in the language makes all that hard work rewarding.
Sharing a Love of Exploration
I love traveling to new places, especially places that are off the beaten path. I have spent extensive time in India, Jordan, and Morocco. Without fail, every time I get ready to leave for my next adventure, I am always bombarded with comments alluding to the danger in the countries I choose to visit. One thing that has made hearing these false assumptions bearable is that I know when I come home, I can share my experience and help negate harmful stereotypes. My experience studying with CLS was been no exception. I had the incredible opportunity to live in Morocco, further my skills in Arabic, and develop a deeper understanding of Islam, and Moroccan and Middle Eastern culture, which I have since been able to share with others.
April 29, 2020