With a passion for travel and hopes of working to improve the lives of women and children in the Middle East, BRCC graduate Natasha D’Souza is eager to study abroad in Muscat, Oman this fall. As the recipient of Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, she’ll participate in the intensive Arabic instruction and cultural study program for six days a week, eight hours a day, for two months.
She expects her study to make her even more proficient in the Arabic language. “Oman is a region that has its own dialectic, so studying there will help me with that,” she said. She also knows that she’ll learn a lot about the culture, which is something she’s really looking forward to. Through her work with Arabic women now living in the Harrisonburg area, she’s discovered although there are many perceived differences, “we have a lot in common with one another, more than we realize.”
Natasha’s passport already contains stamps from Dubai, UAE; India, and Haiti. Her father is originally from Kuwait and she still has family in India, so the idea of travel to a somewhat non-traditional destination doesn’t bother her. In fact, she hopes that through her blogging during her stay she can help dispel some of the negative stereotyping of life in the Middle East. “People there still leave their doors unlocked and windows open. They’re comfortable, not worried,” she explained.
As an active member of the BRCC Enactus team, including the national competition team, Natasha has honed her public speaking and organizational skills and credits her Enactus involvement with helping her develop her confidence. “In Enactus you learn how to present yourself, how to speak with people,” she explained. She also took the lead on an Enactus initiative called “Project Passport,” which helps local refugees adjust to life here in the Valley.
Having completed her Associates of Arts and Sciences degree in the college/university transfer program at BRCC, Natasha has transferred to James Madison University and is majoring in International Affairs & Middle Eastern Studies. To follow her adventures in Oman, check in on her blog http://tashpointow.wordpress.com, beginning August 28.