Next summer, first-year student Caroline Umphlet plans to immerse herself in Middle Eastern culture and practice Arabic with native speakers.

Umphlet is participating in Virginia Tech Arabic in Oman, one of many upcoming study abroad programs led by College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members.

Open to all majors, the five-week program is accepting applications through Feb. 17.

Students will study Arabic, practice conversation skills with Omani language partners, attend seminars and lectures, and visit historical and cultural sites. The program also includes three days in the United Arab Emirates, with visits to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Majoring in international studies with a minor in Arabic, Umphlet said she’s thrilled for the opportunity to gain a global education.

“I’m so eager to learn Arabic,” said Umphlet. “Being in Oman will just be the ultimate way to learn the language to the best of my abilities.”  

Umphlet learned about the Oman program through a presentation by Ragheda Nassereddine, the program’s director and an instructor of Arabic in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures. Nassereddine first organized the program in 2017.

Caroline Umphlet, a first-year student majoring in international studies with a minor in Arabic, poses for a photo on the Drillfield. Photo by Andrew Adkins for Virginia Tech.
Caroline Umphlet, a first-year student, is majoring in international studies with a minor in Arabic. Photo by Andrew Adkins for Virginia Tech.

Umphlet said she’d love to work in the Middle East eventually. She pictures a career in translating Arabic to English, or using some of her other language skills professionally. Umphlet is an officer of the American Sign Language Club at Virginia Tech.

The daughter of a Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumnus, Scott Umphlet (History ’87), Umphlet said she grew up a Hokie but kept her postsecondary options open. When she realized Virginia Tech offered the best pathways for her to achieve her dreams, she found clarity in her decision.

“Virginia Tech is so beautiful, first of all,” she said. “Then, it had the major I wanted and opportunities to study abroad.”

This fall Umphlet was awarded an Education Abroad Scholarship through the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

“This scholarship is giving me an incredible opportunity to be exposed to Arabic in a native-speaking country,” she said. “The Oman program is a perfect way for me to ease into being far from home, but still experience a different culture.”

The Oman program is just one of dozens available to all Virginia Tech students in the summer of 2020. In the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences alone, faculty members will be leading programs on three continents.

Aaron Brantly, an assistant professor of political science, for example, will lead European Perspectives on Integrated Security, a six-week, six-credit program at Virginia Tech’s Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. There students will study the foundations of integrated security, explore the causes of the recent Balkan conflicts, and examine how those conflicts have shaped political and security relations in Europe.  

Peter Schmitthenner, an associate professor of religion and culture, will offer The Real India, a six-week, six-credit program based in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, located on the Bay of Bengal coast. Students will take excursions to regional cultural, historical, and religious sites; undertake research or an independent study; and possibly volunteer at a local nongovernmental organization.  

David Hicks, a professor of education, will join Todd Ogle, executive director of applied research in immersive environments and simulations in University Libraries, in offering Experiential Learning with Creative Technologies: Visualizing the First World War in Europe. This two-week, three-credit program will teach students to create informal learning experiences through the use of cutting-edge technology for the documentation, data collection, and reconstruction of historical, archeological, and cultural heritage sites and artifacts focusing on World War I. The fieldwork will occur in northeastern France and western Belgium, along the course of the Western Front of the First World War.  

Other College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences summer programs include Teaching and Learning in Zambia, Virginia Tech in Spain, London Calling! 2020, Virginia Tech in Latvia, The Making of England, Virginia Tech in Japan, International Dementia Care: European Tour, Virginia Tech in Paris, Summer Italian Studies in Bologna, and Virginia Tech in Germany.

For information about study abroad opportunities throughout the university, visit the Global Education Office website.

Students with a primary or secondary major in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences are also eligible to apply for an Education Abroad Scholarship between Jan. 21 and Feb. 16. To learn more, visit the College Scholarships and Awards webpage.

- Written by Andrew Adkins