How I got to know open learning initiative (OLI)?
In 2012, I was working on my ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ project, a project through which I was trying to equip myself with the skill-sets necessary for a 21st century global manager. One of the aspects of this program was to make myself more globalized by understanding more about different regions/cultures. It includes reading of social, historical, geographical. economical aspects as well as local customs. Arab world was one among them.
It was very accidental to discover website of OLI. Along with cultural studies, I was also working on creating base to learn few foreign languages, especially those are valuable in world business. Already started with German, my plan was to learn other foreign languages like Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic, Russian in future. Looking for a proper material, which can be used to learn French in future, I have reached OLI website. I have been using Open Course Wares of other universities since 2007 and greatly benefited from them in past many years.
To check the OLI learning methods, I have started with French course as a trial run. It was impressive to find combination of videos, texts and reading assignments. OLI was much better than I have anticipated. I have also found Arabic course at OLI, which was under preparation at that time. Along with the introduction to basic Arabic, this course has also talked about providing some information towards etiquette, social life and local customs followed in this region. After waiting for more than a year, I have recently finished studying this course.
Experiences with Arabic course
Before studying this course, I have already finished two courses about the Arab world and gained a lot of knowledge on history, society and governance aspects of this region. From past 2 years, I am regularly reading The Arab News to gain more knowledge about the economic situation, business environment of this region. I was also looking forward to know more about the society in general.
Although this course about knowing the basic Arabic, I have used it more for knowing more social, family and other aspects of this region. This course has wonderfully covered many colorful Arab society. It was interesting to know the popularity of Egyptian Arabic and the reasons behind it. Knowing more about Egyptian poet and singer was like winning a jackpot. Historical conflicts, role of religion, increasing young population and political governance were few other glimpse of this course.
On the relaxing side, it was good to know more about the wedding and what kind of gifts one must give on the occasions. What to do when you meet someone from the Arab world and how to tip at the restaurant. I enjoyed a lot while reading the story of expat in Dubai when they were invited over Ramadan party as well as the picturesque description of the Arab wedding. Traveling through Yemen/Syria were slightly old but still described beauty of this part of the world in a way better than what I read in the newspapers. It was very important to know the value of family in Arab world, kind of close knit bonding they have formed with each other.
Thanks to this course, I am in much better position to talk to someone in the Arab world.