Dedicated readers of this blog will probably remember my first blog entry, which was very much a desperate call of mine for inspiration – academic inspiration allowing for my personal growth of understanding world relations as well as regional politics and the various societies of the Middle East. Such inspiration has been crucial for me since I am in my last year of studies and will have to start writing a Bachelor thesis, when I am back home in February. Master applications are the next step during my last semester. With a regional focus on the Middle East in my studies, I have chosen all my courses according to this path including the Arabic language. Having a Middle East migration background myself and speaking Farsi fluently, I never questioned that this is the right path for me.
However, the months before I came to GW were filled with a kind of intellectual stagnation, which had started after I came back from an internship in Israel/Palestine. The theories and cases I was learning about as well as the issues constituting the main topics of my papers were very interesting, however I did not feel fully fulfilled. I did not have the feeling that I was close to grasp the essence of various conflicts being core to my studies and interests. Uncertainty was one of the main emotions, which describes my inner state during those months. I felt uncertain about my knowledge on the Middle East, I felt uncertain about my ability to sophisticatedly give an opinion on certain regional issues. It made me highly self-conscious and for a short period of time I retreated back to Social Security Policies and Labor Movements – fields that I have always been confident about.
Why was it an issue?
I just realized by coming to GW in how far my drawback from my main field of interest just symbolizes my general fear of having to work in the region. And this fear has not been legitimate. External forces of my environment have created it. Neither the media nor the general discourse on the Middle East representing the region as a place of horror and bloodshed have been the main forces of influence, but certain people close to me – especially my mother. Her constant attempt to convince me to pursue a career in the social security sector or as a labor advocate had much influence on me. She knows how to frame the Middle East in order to create a fearful atmosphere. She simply has to use her first-hand experiences as a political refugee in order to make me think. Consequently, I have been in the constant struggle of deciding whether this path has been the right one for me. It is a struggle between an easy and comfortable life compared to a challenging and difficult professional career. But it is also a struggle between interest and passion. I am passionate about Middle East politics and society, while social security and labor are only interests of mine.
At GW, I was hoping to find inspiration and maybe a hint on which path I should take. The Middle Eastern Studies courses, which I selected prior to my arrival, seemed to support my intellectual growth. I did not expect though, that two of them would have such a strong impact on me. I did not just find inspiration here, but I found an answer: Yes, I want to pursue a Middle Eastern Studies Master. I want to work in the region. This is my future path. I can only recommend to anyone to pick “Comparative Politics of the Middle East” as well as “Modern Iran” as part of their schedule.
I also need to add another song to my ‘Sound of DC’ playlist after having a great night at Flash located on U-Street. The DJs are a duo from my hometown back in Germany, who came to DC 2 weeks ago. There seems to be a serious Cologne – DC connection.