Sequence Spotlights

Jaclyn Driesenga

Jaclyn Driesenga

Can you talk about your professors in this course?

My professors are Majd Al-Mallah and Coeli Fitzpatrick. From the very first day of our sequence, it was evident that they both wanted my peers and I to succeed. They are willing to meet with students outside of class whenever is needed. They teach with enthusiasm and boost the morale of the students through their kind smiles and passion for the Middle East. The professors are flexible, there’s not a lot of rigidity to class periods, and they often grant extensions on assignments when they realize that students may be overwhelmed from the workload. Both professors are empathetic and can be sources of support if you need them to be.

What has been your favorite part of this course?

One of the many things I have enjoyed in my sequence is the cultural events. Both of the professors have provided us with authentic Middle Eastern food and Arabic movies or guest speaker events to enhance our understanding of the MENA. We also took a day trip to Dearborn and visited the Arabic museum, which made me more cognizant of the culture and Arabic history in the US. I’m glad I came into the class with an open mind and ready to receive new information because the sequence has shown me the biases and injustices that have occurred without my knowledge, specifically in the media, that subjugate the Middle Eastern community in the US.

How has this course helped you in your other classes/ future career?

This class has shown me the power of a one-sided story. I was unaware of the many biases surrounding me. It has been rewarding to come to class with an open mind and acquire more knowledge regarding the Middle East. In the future, I will have the ability to discern between stereotypes and the truth, which is often skewed to fit within what the West wants to believe rather than reality.

What is your biggest takeaway from your sequence?

One of my greatest challenges in my sequence was laying down what I thought I knew about the Middle East and picking up new pieces of information which contradicted what had always been the “truth”. By diving into history, current events and philosophy, the class and I were able to see that the anti-Islamic discourse is everywhere. History has been rewritten in some places to favor one side over another. Laws have been made in other countries to punish people who are empathetic towards a cause that may not support Western thoughts or ideals. Our society has come so far from the truth, especially after the attacks of September 11.

I have learned that it is unjust to generalize a whole group of people based on a single experience, interaction or media clip. One’s identity should not be created by someone else, rather by themselves. Usually, if a person has any credibility to their name, anything they say is declared as the truth by society, even though their words may be built off of stereotypes and generalizations. Many people speak on behalf of others without permission to do so, In this way, the stereotypes continue to be invented and perpetuated into society. Therefore, it’s crucial to research an event from multiple sources before producing your own opinion.


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Page last modified March 28, 2022