Colin got some exciting news recently. He received the Boren Fellowship, an all-expenses-paid opportunity to study Arabic in Tunisia for nine months. The fellowship comes with the stipulation that he work for a short period for the federal government, but that’s something he was interested in doing anyway.
Yes, you’ve heard about Tunisia in the news. A Tunisian man sparked the Arab Spring in early 2011, and there has been a bit of a revolution in Tunisia and across the region since. In October, Tunisia held peaceful, democratic elections, and a moderate Islamic party was voted in. They have since expanded rights for women and recently said unequivocally that they will not add Sharia law to their constitution.
Another classmate just returned from doing his Boren: his proposal involved studying in Syria, but during the time he was to be there, the country was too hot (in a revolution sense — it’s always hot in a temperature sense), and the Boren people had our friend instead do his program in Egypt. Colin won’t be going anywhere that’s deemed unsafe (or at least, no more unsafe than some parts of DC).
All that said, he didn’t love Tunis, the capital city and where he would be studying, when he went there on a SAIS trip in January. He’s planning to petition to either shorten the length of his time or to do part of it in Morocco. As it stands, he would leave mid-September to begin his program in October.
We’ve only had a few days to wrap our heads around this – he’d forgotten he’d even applied for a Boren. It’s really too good a deal for him to pass up, as well as being extremely prestigious; only 100 fellowships are awarded each year. So he’s almost certainly going, whether or not he’s able to change his program.