Transitions and Traditions in Oman: Video Transcript

Scott Marsh [Political Science major, Class of 2017]: I've been studying Arabic for two years now, and I have wanted to expand on that and just learn about the culture of the Middle East.

Duke McDonald [Political Science major, Class of 2015]: So I saw it as a very interesting and unique opportunity to travel to a region of the world that not many people know enough accurate information about.

Alhaji Bah [Mechanical Engineering major, Class of 2014]: It seems like it is always on the news, and there's always some discussion about what's going on there. And I thought what better opportunity to learn about what is actually happening there.

Sara Dastagir [Political Science major, Class of 2015]: As a poli sci major, I feel, especially in this era, it's kind of ridiculous if you haven't visited the Middle East and are able to study Middle Eastern politics. It's a big deal.

Nathan S. French [Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion]: So we wanted them to encounter what a modern Middle Eastern culture, a Middle Eastern business climate, a Middle Eastern economic climate, a Middle Eastern social climate looks like.

Elizabeth M. Bergman [Associate Professor of Arabic]: It was really an intensive introduction to the culture and history of Oman for us as well as the students.

Nathan S. French: No one ever really hears much about Oman, and so it's an outstanding opportunity to sort of bring students into the region in a different way, in a way they really don't have preconceived notions for.

Jimmy Nordloh [Political Science major, Class of 2015]: Landing on an open tarmac airport, and then immediately just being surrounded by the city was definitely a surreal experience.

Connor Hopkins [Chemical Engineering major, Class of 2018]: We went around to all the shops around our hotel, and we probably had ten free cups of tea and coffee. People kept buying us tea and coffee, because we met them over the experience.

Alhaji Bah: They'd be willing to do anything to make you feel comfortable, make you feel as if you were at home.

Rachel Faraci [International Studies major, Class of 2017]: Some people, even if they're extremely conservative and religious, have so many funny stories. They were so fun to talk to. They were really funny people, very accepting.

Terry Tait [History major, Class of 2018]: The Omani people were very generous, very pleasant to interact with, very tolerant of other Omanis, other people coming into the country.

Sara Dastagir: What I liked most about going to Oman was that I was able to talk to Omani political science professors and ask them about their oil economy.

Jacqueline Morgan [Political Science and Comparative Religion majors, Class of 2015]: We got to travel to three different major cities, each with their own culture, people, customs, so it was really exciting to see those different parts of the country.

Brandon Mueller [Diplomacy and Global Politics major, Class of 2017]: Every aspect of life was completely foreign to us, including the clothes, the way that they worship.

Jill Elfers [Anthropology major, Class of 2016]: When we went to Nizwa and Salalah I used my Arabic in the marketplace to barter for items, and I spoke in Arabic to some of our tour guides, so I did get to use it.

Scott Marsh: We were hiking through Nizwa with our local guides, who were just telling us about the culture and everything while we were hiking up these beautiful mountains and ravines.

Rachel Faraci: When you saw it all there, like if you took pictures, and sent them back to like my parents for example, they didn't even understand that this was the Middle East.

Nathan S. French: The students tended to have a little more unstructured time within the boundaries of the space, so we visited a traditional market, or we visited a shipbuilding yard, we visited various places, and the students would be able to explore a bit on their own.

Brandon Mueller: Every couple hours there would be, from a mosque, there would be the call to prayer.

Sara Dastagir: I thought it was awesome that the Sultan Qaboos mosque was able to unify all these different sects within Islam, because you don't see that a lot, either in other mosques, or in other areas within the Middle East.

Elizabeth M. Bergman: Our tour guides, the person who had organized the program in-country, regularly commented on how well informed our students were, how respectfully they behaved toward their hosts in Oman.

Nathan S. French: I think a lot of them really came away with a different perspective on the region and its people and its culture.

Alhaji Bah: I'm a lot more open. I'm not as quickly to judge people or, I guess, fall to the general misconceptions or stereotypes of people elsewhere.

Rachel Faraci: There are great people over there. There's definitely peace, especially in Oman. I feel that that's something that a lot of people don't get to see.

Duke McDonald: When you fully immerse yourself in a culture that could not be more different from what you experience every day in the United States, it's always a positive experience.

[February 2015]