NWU Student Selected For Tunisia Learn & Serve Program

Nebraska Wesleyan University senior Alexandra Hartmann says her heart lies in many places around the world.

She’s done service work in Malawi, Nicaragua and Guatemala with Nebraska Wesleyan’s Global Service Learning. She’s been to Montreal for the American Academy of Religion Annual Conference. She’s visited friends who are studying in various pockets of the world.

Hartmann will now add the country of Tunisia to her list of travels.

The political science and religion double major is one of nine American undergraduate students selected to participate in the AMIDEAST Learn and Serve Tunisia Program.

Beginning June 26, Hartmann will spend three weeks learning the culture, studying Arabic and sightseeing in Africa’s northernmost country. She will spend approximately three weeks in an English Language Village where she will serve as a language fellow and teach second-year English majors through classes and cultural events.

“As a language learner myself, I will be able to identify and appreciate what the students are going through,” Hartmann said.

The Seward, Neb. native said she spent many hours researching summer study abroad opportunities, particularly in Jordan and Tunisia.

“The AMIDEAST program is a good fit for me because I am particularly interested in the service side of it too,” she said.

With two semesters of Arabic and French under her belt, Hartmann doesn’t feel completely out of her comfort zone. In fact, she’s already read a lot about Tunisia’s culture as she prepares to research and write her senior thesis on how Muslim women have been affected by modernization and political change there.

Her career aspirations have changed dramatically since first stepping foot on Nebraska Wesleyan’s campus in August 2007. She originally thought she would teach high school calculus but a few political science classes and a general education course on Christians and Muslims piqued her interest and changed her direction. She credits her math skills for her analytical reasoning and for helping her with Arabic, a language that is very formulaic, she said.

She knows her summer experience will have both immediate and long-term benefits. She volunteers at MENA-Hope, a project that helps Middle Eastern and North African immigrants and refugees learn English, take citizenship classes and understand their rights and responsibilities as American citizens. Being able to fluently communicate with MENA-Hope’s clients is a personal aspiration, she said.

“It’s frustrating for me to have the language barrier so becoming more fluent in Arabic will help immediately at MENA-Hope,” said Hartmann. “It would be a disservice not to learn the language.”

She also hopes the experience will build the foundation needed for her return to Tunisia during her spring semester where she will continue to study Arabic and conduct research for her senior thesis.

And ultimately she hopes the experience will help towards a possible career with an international non-governmental agency.

“My classroom experience is about to jump off the page,” she said.

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Alexandra Hartmann