Arab News highlights new Short Term course heading to Saudi Arabia

An op-ed in the English-language newspaper Arab News praises Leena Nasser ’12, the Bates student who has helped to craft an anthropology course scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia in May.

Leena Nasser ’12 is a politics major from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

An essay by Abdullah Al-Alami, a Saudi writer, economist and NGO activist, describes the email he received from Nasser, a politics major from Dhahran.

“She said she has a dream, simply put, to plan a short trip for students to Saudi Arabia,” Al-Alami writes.

The Short Term course, developed cooperatively by Nasser and Loring “Danny” Danforth, Dana Professor of Anthropology, will be the college’s first to involve significant coursework in Saudi Arabia.

And as is typical with Short Term courses that go abroad, Danforth and his students will do intensive background studies on campus before traveling to Saudi Arabia.

In country, Danforth and his students will visit Dhahran, Riyadh and Jeddah. They will investigate the impact of modernization on traditional Saudi society, the role of oil in the country’s economic development, the impact of Islam on Saudi culture and the position of women in Saudi society.

Nasser has been instrumental in planning the course, says Stephen Sawyer, director off-campus study at Bates.

Loring “Danny” Danforth, Dana Professor of Anthropology

Adds Danforth, “Leena’s contribution to planning this course has been invaluable. She is spending a great deal of time contacting individuals and groups with whom we can meet in order to have in-depth conversations about many aspects of Saudi society and culture.”

Nasser’s help is so pivotal, Danforth says, that the course is likely to be a unique, one-time offering in the Bates curriculum.

In her email to Al-Alami, Nasser said she hopes to “give Bates students first-hand experience in delving deeply into studying different cultures and creating links between their studies and different parts of the world.”

“What a vision!” Al-Alami exclaims.

Writing under the headline “Our Ambassador Leena Nasser,” Al-Alami notes that “Leena’s objective is for foreign students to get to know and understand Saudi people, as opposed to simply studying the clichéd and stereotypical side of KSA.”

He adds, “There is no better opportunity to facilitate improving the relationship between Saudi Arabia and all nations than through the creation of a healthy and continuous dialogue between them.

“Well done, Ms. Leena,” Al-Alami concludes. “You are an example of which we are very proud.”



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