When Kaitlin Greathouse learned she was accepted into the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science, she’s pretty sure she screamed.
Considering it’s one of the top three programs in the world for English speakers to learn Arabic and its politics, who could blame her?
“There are only 11 people in my graduate program, International Relations of the Middle East with Arabic, and seven in our sister program, Arab World Studies, which focuses on literature rather than politics,” said Greathouse, who graduated from Olivet in 2013 with a degree in history. “It’s a two-year master’s program where Arabic is my life. I have about 20 hours of Arabic a week plus a two-hour politics course. We write, speak, listen, read and give presentations completely in Arabic.”
This summer, Greathouse will put her skills to the test living in Ramallah, Palestine through August. She’ll spend six hours a day, four days a week studying Palestinian Arabic. “I plan to travel throughout the area and study the culture and everyday lifestyle of the people I will be living amongst, and hopefully will be able to converse with them,” she said.
When she returns to Edinburgh in the fall, she’ll commence with her formal classes and begin her dissertation.
Greathouse acquired her ability to multitask and focus while a student at Olivet College.
“I really enjoyed the closeness of everything and everyone at Olivet,” added Greathouse of her experience. “I knew I could drop in on any of my professors at any point.”
One professor Greathouse “dropped in on” often was Craig Korpela, assistant professor of history and political science. “Craig pushed me to learn how to perform primary research while we were on an ILT trip in the Upper Peninsula studying mining. I could always visit with him whenever I needed something; it seemed like he was always available for me.”
When Greathouse graduates from the University of Edinburgh in December 2015, she plans to work with a human rights organization. “But who knows, it’s over a year away, and I may have an amazing opportunity come up that I can’t turn down,” she added. With her drive and sheer determination, she’s bound to do great things.
“Do not disqualify yourself from anything,” she concluded. “You never know who will have faith in you.”