Culture and Language Program for Marines Heading to Iraq

On September 1st I posted about a flight being cancelled because some passenger was frightened by the presence of Arab-looking men. The men were working for the Marine Corps as part of a program to teach Marines about Iraqi customs and some basic Arabic. Here’s an article about that program:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070912/news_1m12culture.html

Since then, more than 50,000 Marines have completed the curriculum. They’ve learned phrases as diverse as “hands up” and “may peace be upon you” and studied the importance of honor, family and tribe in Iraq’s complex society.

The benefits can be seen in Anbar province, said Capt. Dave Meadows, who attended the session yesterday.

That vast region west of Baghdad was once a haven for insurgents. In 2004, the Marine Corps fought one of its most intense battles ever in the city of Fallujah, which is part of the province.

Today, the Sunni majority in Anbar has chased off or killed most of the homegrown and foreign insurgents. Sunni sheiks have aligned with U.S. forces, thanks in part to the Marines’ heightened cultural awareness and language skills.

“Having someone who can speak good Arabic is like having another infantry battalion,” he added. “It’s just that valuable.”

(Bolding mine)

Mehson recalled how a serviceman prevented an agitated Iraqi man from being shot by his unit when he shouted the Arabic word for stop – pronounced “owe-giff.”

“If you learn just a few words and phrases, you will make the Iraqi people happy and you will surprise them,” said Mehson, who peppers his sentences with the word “sweet” when describing the payoff of learning Iraqi ways.

“At the end of the day,” he added, “these words will help the Iraqis fall in love with you.”

The article includes a sidebar about Iraqi customs. This is one of the pointers:

Servicemen should avoid making eye contact with women. Speak only to men.

Another blogger complained about this one. I want to point out that there are American servicewomen serving in Iraq, and there would be no reason for them not to make eye contact with or talk to Iraqi women.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under arab, arabic

One response to “Culture and Language Program for Marines Heading to Iraq

  1. Frida

    Enthusiasm is as contagious as smiling. When you meet someone, make the most of it : conversationaid.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s