Caitlin in Marrakech, Morocco last summer. When I decided to come to Candler two years ago, I knew only one class that I wanted to take, and it wasn’t even offered at Candler.

I wanted to take Arabic.

The Arabic was part of a larger plan. I wanted to study rhetoric between Christianity and Islam, and to do that I needed to learn Arabic.

In my first few weeks at Candler, I met with Arabic faculty in Emory’s College of Arts and Sciences, who connected me with faculty in the Islamic Civilizations program, who invited me to take classes with them as well. Suddenly, most of my classes weren’t even in the School of Theology, but were spread throughout the university.

I took Arabic classes with undergraduates and seminars with PhD students. I became interested in Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion and took courses at the law school. My classes were scattered, but I was able to see common threads between them. A footnote in a paper I wrote at the law school became the basis for a final project for a World Religions class at Candler. A book I read in a Candler class referenced a professor with whom I had worked in a PhD seminar. While in these classes, I was learning more and more Arabic, which I was increasingly able to incorporate into my work.

I set a goal to learn as much Arabic as possible in my two years at Candler. In order to do this, I would need to study over the summer as well. Fortunately, Emory’s Arabic department has close ties to a university in Morocco, al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane. My professors helped me navigate the application process, and I was able to spend eight weeks studying Arabic in the summer between my first and second year.

Although the focus of the Morocco program was language immersion, I continued incorporating my larger areas of study into my work. In my Arabic application essay, I explained why I felt that the study of rhetoric between Christianity and Islam was important. When we were required to do Arabic presentations, mine were always related to religion. When I wrote a research paper in Arabic, I did so on a topic that I planned to incorporate into my thesis.

My Arabic professors in Morocco and at Emory would tell us, “Tulaabii mithl abnaa'ii wa banaatii,” which means, “My students are like my sons and daughters.” They are genuinely invested in our learning and want us to succeed not only in learning Arabic, but in all of our endeavors. This has been my experience with faculty throughout my time at Emory. I’ve worked with people in four different schools and in every class, every semester, their goal is for me to succeed. My professors care about what I’m studying, they are eager to provide feedback, and they have helped me make the most of all the resources Emory has to offer.