Missouri State expands Kurdish studies program
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Dr. David Romano is an expert in Kurdish history and politics at Missouri State University (MSU), where he is the Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics.
As Romano explained to Kurdistan 24, the university will start next week to offer a new, beginner’s course in the Sorani dialect of the Kurdish language. The course will be taught online. It will be open to both MSU students and to those who are not enrolled at the university. That includes, of course, people living anywhere in the world.
Romano stressed the importance of teaching and learning a foreign language.
“We have a lot of research that shows that a language is a vehicle for empathy for a group, for understanding their culture, for feeling more identification with that group,” he said.
“For a long time, we’ve had language programs that train future American, British, French, and other diplomats in Arabic Persian, Turkish, and other languages, but nothing like this exists for Kurdish,” Romano continued.
“My Kurdish friends complain” that the foreign ministries of various countries in the world, including the US, “don’t understand the Kurds or don’t attach importance to them,” Romano stated, as he explained that part of the problem is that there are virtually no officials immersed in the study of Kurds, as there are regarding other peoples of the region.
“You have Arabists, Persianists, Turkologists,” Romano noted, but “no Kurdish studies specialists.”
“It’s a long-term process to have civil servants, public officials, businesspeople, more in tune with Kurdish issues,” he explained, “and a key element of that is teaching them Kurdish.”
MSU’s new Sorani class will start on Aug. 17 and will be taught by Dr. Michael Chyet, who was previously a senior editor of the Kurdish Service of the Voice of America, as well as a professor of Kurdish at the University of Paris. Chyet is also the author of a Kurdish-English dictionary.
(Additional reporting by Washington DC bureau)