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제목 : American University of Beirut, Middle Eastern and African Studie... 글쓴이 : 국제지역대학원
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American University of Beirut

: Report of 3+1 dispatch program

 

                       Middle Eastern and African Studies, Arum YOO

 

          We frequently miss out to read the detail instruction when we embark on doing new experience. At the cover of the application form of American University of Beirut said,

 

 “It is not what you think, it is how you think.”

 

I did not consider that phrase seriously at that time, but it became a guide line of my life at AUB and also afterwards. I applied to ‘Special & Visiting Student for non-degree program’ for the fall semester in 2009 at AUB. Lonely planet, the bible of backpackers, said that AUB is one of the most beautiful Universities in the world. It is absolutely true. The 19 century European style buildings locate just near the Mediterranean, and the campus is surrounded various trees and flowers. You can find various places to take relax and stress out under the Orange trees or you can swim at the beach owned by the university. Under the warm sunshine, students from various nationality and ethnicity get along together on the green grass.

 

Unlike the beautiful campus, the class room was the battle field for debating and discussing. The teaching style depends on the professor. At AUB, there are many visiting professors from all around world, so the teaching style is various and highly depends on professor’s intention. I took two courses, ‘Media & Politics’, ‘State & Religion in comparative perspective’, and also audited three courses, ‘UN peace keeping’, ‘Politics in Lebanon’ and ‘Middle Eastern Politics’. I had a hard time and also enjoyed catching up with the classes. Apart from whether my English proficiency is good or bad, I faced another problem in each class. It was my lack of readings, and general academic knowledge which we called the common knowledge. I used to like participating in active discussion, but I had to be alienated from the discussion due to my lack of background knowledge about the subject. It was not matter of knowledge about the Middle East, it was the lack of my own frame to see and analyze phenomenon around the world.

 

         There were two classes I got impressed, ‘State & Religion’ and ‘UN peace keeping’. As for the former class, I learned how doubt every single conventional wisdom and knowledge which I have believed as a truth. IN Korea, the secular society, religion is likely to be interpreted as an ethic which I can choose, not the ultimate guide which control to public and also private life of individuals. Lebanon, however, is in reverse. For example, there is no civil marriage in Lebanon, so if you want to get married with a person who belongs to different religion, you should get married outside of Lebanon, such as Cyprus. At the first time, I was not able to understand why religion determines the life of individuals. But, it changed later. Under the guide of German Professor Hanf Theodor, I and classmates compared various cases about the relations between State and Religion from Europe to Africa. The various composition of nationality -Denmark, Germany, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Syria, Pakistan, USA and Korea- of the class also helped our lively discussion. I realized I have been dominated by the myth of secularism and it could be another kind of religion. At the beginning of class, I asked whether Confucianism is religion or not to Professor Theodor. It was not his academic field, but he studied about Confucianism a month and then gave a lecture for me. The passion of the professor was really touched and pushed me to have interest in this subject, the symbiotic or incompatible relation between Politics and Religion.

 

          As for the later class, ‘UN peace keeping’ was not familiar with this subject to me. I decided to audit this class due to the Palestinian professor, Karim Makdisi, a nephew of Edward Said. The class with 9 classmates, was the most hardest and also passionate class I have ever taken. The brim of reading, the class heavily relies on the discussion organized by students themselves. At each week, we had special lectures form various guest speakers from UN. This class was a mixture of academic debate based on theory and also feasible experience of guest speakers. We made field trips to Palestinian refugee camp, Sabra and Shatila, and the UNIFIL headquarter located at near to Blue line-an official border between Lebanon and Israel.

 

As for a student studying area studies, I used to rely on written sources and media to study the Middle East. But, I felt that I have to see more broaden picture, for example international politics, and do not focus on only the Middle East. If I want to become a specialist about one areas or country, it might be hard to know everything about the country. Because I felt several time that even a Lebanese beggar on the street knows more information about his country. I used to rely on facts, in another word, what I know or understand not how I think. At AUB, various students clubs are very active. I was able to intermingle with them through discussion about religion, and also volunteer works. The facts I learned via my ears were different the written facts I learned via my eyes. So, 5months experience at AUB left me the task, how I can create my own frame to analyze phenomenon and keep balance this analytical approach with collecting facts.

 

During 5months, I just tasted Lebanon, not fully understand it. But the time in Lebanon was new opportunity to rethink myself, not merely for study. The good memories I made with friends at AUB will fade away, but it will not change that the 3+1 program gave me a chance to broaden my perspective and an opportunity to draw a new map of my career and study.

 

 

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