فلوس كثيرا
October 17, 2006 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Brainstorming summer employment opportunities in Arabic-speaking countries.

I've been studying Modern Standard Arabic for a year and a half now. By year's end, I'll have four semesters under my belt and I feel that I'll be ripe for some immersion. Lacking the cash and the time to truly "study" abroad, I'm looking for employment opportunities over the summer in Arabic-speaking countries where the income would offset both the cost of living and the cost of my airfare (from NE US).

As far as skills/interests go, I'm not fluent in Arabic yet, so translation is out. I'm considering TESOL/TEFL/CELTA (see below). Last year, I supported myself in Rome for two months working in hostels and busking with my guitar. I'm also an NREMT-B, and I wouldn't be averse to doing medical/healthcare work abroad.

So far, I've looked into this TESOL/TEFL program in Alexandria, but I haven't found any information on what I'd expect to make If I were to spend three months (one training, two teaching) in Egypt. There's also a tuition fee of $1590, but it covers a month of room/board/sightseeing trips.

Basically, I'm looking for something to do for three months in an Arabic-speaking country that will be, at the very least, income neutral. Any help would be much appreciated.

posted by The White Hat to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Summer work. If you can write, try e-mailing the Beruit Star in Lebanon and see if they'll hire you on as a stringer. They also have a number on their website and their editor is quite accessible to questions. He'll want you to start fast and will want some writing samples.
posted by parmanparman at 7:38 AM on October 17, 2006


If it's aid-motivated, that's one avenue. If it's to make yourself more desirable as a government employee, that's another set of considerations. Locals in Egypt and Lebanon, for example, have seen so many expats that they will be able to place you in a highly developed taxonomy before you drop your bags. If you don't have a clear goal beyond language immersion--and don't show a missionary bent--locals will assume you're a wannabe FSO, reconstruction contractor, or . . . other.

They also have highly evolved antennae for hostility and/or condescension. You can overcome this in part by having a clearly defined purpose and contribution to make.

You won't be able to busk, live off the map, be a nomadic studemt, etc. What's romantic in Rome is threatening in the Middle East. Law enforcement assume you're a druggie; even if they don't, you'll earn no respect.

Your question is conspicuous for your failure to mention why you're studying. In a lot of places in the Eastern Med, where they've seen almost every major world culture come and go, they have an interpersonal sophistication that is beyond imagining. They may be poor, but they are highly cosmopolitan and worldly. They have an understanding of other religions and cultures that few USians can approach.

If they see someone coming who is desperate to learn the language, having put in years of concentrated study, but can't or won't say why, they will roll their eyes behind his back before starting to mess with him.
posted by Phred182 at 8:19 AM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: I should mention that I'm currently in my junior year of undergrad (Int'l Affairs - Global Public Health) and will not have a degree by the summer.
posted by The White Hat at 8:19 AM on October 17, 2006

Assumed you were older. Still, aid-focussed is probably the way to go.
posted by Phred182 at 8:22 AM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Indeed, my purpose will be language immersion for use in future aid coordination / administration in Northern Africa. Particular dialect is immaterial at this point. I figure that Egyption colloquial will serve me just as well as Morrocan at this stage in my education.
posted by The White Hat at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2006

While this doesn't appear to be a summer opportunity, they may have programs that do run over the summer.

The American Language Center in Marrakech
posted by Gooney at 8:52 AM on October 17, 2006

You might want to go through various TEFL sites, such as tefl.com to search vacancies in Egypt and other Arabic speaking countries.

In Egypt (and I believe many other places) they often want at least an year contract. Also, the pay is phenomenal by Egyptian standards, but very little by ours. So if you have bills and so forth that need to be paid while you are abroad, you should save for them now.

Your best bet is to contact some of the schools and see if you can work something out to teach for the summer or tutor for them. You will most likely have to pay for your roundtrip ticket if they agree to take you on, as well as your accomodation.
posted by wilde at 3:25 PM on October 17, 2006

What you want may be a Critical Language Scholarship.
posted by anjamu at 3:42 PM on October 17, 2006

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