Success Stories: Rebecca Stengel

Professional Application/Competitive Advantage

“ I am able to support myself with my Persian skills through translation and interpretation. The good thing about translation is that you can do it anywhere.”

The job opportunities that become available through language acquisition are tremendous.  Additionally, the knowledge of a language allows one to gain a real understanding of a people and her country.  This is critical with the significant misunderstanding that can exist among countries and people today. I have appreciated the opportunity to see the Iranian people on their own soil and look at life through their eyes. It is enlivening to feel at home in a totally different country. Of course, that is impossible without a knowledge of the language. 

Course of Study (including study abroad and funding)

Becky speaks German and Persian fluently and is learning Old Persian, Armenian, and Georgian. She enjoys learning languages and feels that they come relatively easy to her.  She started with German and wanted to study something totally different – something that she didn’t know anything about – script, structure, grammar, all new. An interesting Persian class at Arizona University led to her decision to pursue Persian studies. Becky was awarded the National Security Education Program Boren Scholarship to continue her studies.  This is an award similar to the Fulbright, but it is given to undergraduate students of less commonly studied languages.  She was also awarded the Roshan Institute Fellowship for Excellence in Persian Studies. Becky spent two years studying in Iran beginning at Esfahan University and then transferring to the University of Tehran, which has a strong program in Persian language and literature specifically for foreigners.

Advice to Prospective and Current Arabic Students

“Surround yourself with people who don’t speak English and spend a serious amount of time in the country if you really want to learn the language.”

  • Studying another language can help build a foundation for mastery of a Middle Eastern language.
  • Looking for the patterns and keeping up on grammar and vocabulary are key.
  • Write out the foreign word along with the English.  I can learn up to 200 words in just a couple of days using this strategy.
  • Persian grammar seems easier than other languages, however, Persian does use a lot of unique phrases and quite a bit of poetry in everyday language. These two factors complicate it somewhat but also enrich and beautify it.