We met with Rose Chacko, from the UK. Rose is a PG Arabic alumni studying for MSc Advanced Arabic at the University of Edinburgh. In an interview with Rose, we asked her the following questions:

Tell us about yourself

My name is Rose Chacko, I was born in London and grew up in Cheltenham; I am half Indian and half English; my first degree was in Arabic and Persian at SOAS University in London and I graduated from there in 2014. I worked for UK NARIC as an Information Officer dealing especially with qualifications from the Middle East from 2015-2018.

What made you decide to study the Arabic language and culture?  What & who inspired you?  What were your motivations?

I visited Syria in 2008, because my friend was studying Arabic and spending her year abroad there. It is a holiday I will never forget and which introduced me to the Arabic language and led me to study Arabic. I stayed in September for one month, in the old city of Damascus, and travelled to Aleppo, Tartous, Latakia and to the Deir Mar Musa Monastery in the mountains near to Damascus. I was overwhelmed by so many things; by the ancient buildings and streets mentioned in the bible; by the friendliness and helpfulness of strangers in the street who would not only stop to help when I asked for directions, but would interrupt whatever they were doing to accompany me so I wouldn’t get lost; by the souq and the hammams…but most of all by the people I met. People were so generous in a way I had not experienced in the UK; one example was a student of my friend’s friend who was an artist and art teacher. I complimented the hat she was wearing and she insisted I have it! I tried to refuse saying it was just a compliment, but she insisted. And when my friend left, I stayed another two weeks during which time her Syrian friends looked after me, took me on trips and made sure I was fine. When I returned to the UK I found a short course in Arabic at my local college and signed up. I wanted to return to Syria and that is why I started learning Arabic. Since then I have developed a much wider interest in Arabic culture. history and the Arabic-speaking world. With regards to Persian, I had the opportunity to take up another language whilst studying at SOAS, and I loved Iranian cinema and so I decided to take up Persian. I would love to improve my Persian in the future.

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