Middlebury Language Schools

 

Peter Hessler

Journalist

Kathryn Davis Peace Fellow

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Peter Hessler has spent the better part of his writing career in China. In the nineties, he spent two years in the Peace Corps teaching English in a rural community. In 2000, Peter joined the New Yorker as a staff writer. For almost a decade, he was the magazine’s correspondent in Beijing. Peter’s dedication to his craft was recognized last September, when he received a MacArthur Fellowship.

This past year, after finishing research for his third book on China, Peter decided to turn his attention to the Arab world. To do so, he relocated to Cairo with his family. While his infant daughters will naturally acquire Arabic, Peter and his wife, fellow author Leslie Chang, will have to work hard to develop fluency. A summer as Kathryn Davis Fellows for Peace in the Arabic School gave them both a good start. Any disadvan­tage they may have had as older learners was tempered by their experience and drive. “There are things you know at my age,” he says. “You know how to learn, for example. It all comes down to motivation.”

Helene Songe

UNRWA Monitoring and Reporting Officer, Damascus, Syria

Kathryn Davis Peace Fellow

Helene Songe

A native of Norway, Helene Songe comes to the Arabic School by way of
Damascus, Syria, where she works for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to provide emergency assistance to Palestinian Iraqi refugees.

Helene knows that a high level of proficiency in Arabic will help her be more effective in the field, and that this will have a positive effect on the people she works to help every day. "Middlebury is one of the best places to really get good at a language," she says. "Then you can get back out there and really feel the difference."

Sierra Millman

Journalist

Kathryn Davis Peace Fellow

Sierra Millman

Sierra Millman's passion for the Middle East began when she was a senior at Stanford. After attending journalism school, she interned with the Associated Press in Cairoan experience that revealed to her some of the questionable practices of the mainstream media.

Says Sierra, "The product is everywhere, but the process is under a veil." It was her desire to report objectivelyto be her own arbiter of truththat brought Sierra to the Middlebury Arabic School. She hopes her increasing command of the language will help her report responsibly on the Middle East and help others better understand the complex politics of the region.