The study of languages and their related cultures provides an excellent vista through which to understand humanity.
From the literary to the political, the historical to the cultural, I appreciate the various components of exploring linguistic traditions. As a result, I studied Latin for two years, which culminated in an A grade at A2 Level, with no previous background.
Engaging with the Arabic language will strengthen my linguistic capability and uncover for me a whole new world, which possessed significant connection with the ancient Graeco-Roman legacy which I have explored.
Studying history, I discovered it is considerably more vast than mere narrative. I have seen how certain incidents were causative of both continuity and change. Reading Murphy's 'The Arab Revolt', I was amazed at how the Ottoman Empire's decline and the Arab Revolt resulted from a local desire for self-determination as well as wider geopolitical factors.
Wilson's biography of T.E. Lawrence provided a fascinating revisionist account, portraying him as a pawn of both Arab freedom and British colonialism, powerfully reassessing his image as an autonomous hero. Most recently, I have found reading the first volume of Hodgson's 'The Venture of Islam' at once intellectually challenging and stimulating.
Exploring the Russian Revolution brought to my attention remarkable commonalities with current events in the Arab world. In the course of my study, I hope to examine how premodern and modern societies have developed political systems, especially in terms of creating representative forms of government.
From city-states and Bedouin tribal allegiance to modern dictatorships, societies' political arrangements are a gateway to understanding them.
As a blogger, I am curious about the impact of technology on the Arab world. The question of whether social media has bridged or divided the East and the West is one I find to be of considerable interest.
In my experience, literature - ancient or modern - gives us important insights into cultures. In Ovid's works, I learned about love as consuming (a key component of pre-Islamic Arab poetry) and in the 'Aeneid,' of the archetypal warrior.
In Cicero's 'In Verrem' I inferred the rightful code for a Roman governor and discovered in Sallust's writing the audacity of a conspiratorial few. I appreciated Shelley's unique employment of the Romanticism of the East with elements of the Gothic in her 'Frankenstein'. My ability to rapidly assimilate information will ensure my successful academic development and the honing of my research abilities.
My extracurricular involvement proves my wider engagement: through my intellectual curiosity, I was invited to contribute to a university research paper. Inspired by Roman rhetoric, I set up and ran my school's debating society and represented the school as a barrister in a national competition.
In this connection, I also hope to explore the rich Arab rhetorical tradition, especially through the linguistic analysis of rhetorical modes.
Currently, I have enrolled with an Arabic institute to gain preparedness for my university study. Upon gaining sufficient fluency, I hope to then strengthen my spoken Arabic through conversation with more advanced speakers.
Studying Arabic will unlock for me a significant civilisation in world history, politics, science and the arts and one that has intrigued Orientalists for centuries. Arabic has contributed to the Western tradition, often in imperceptible ways.
For example, a number of works in the Western canon that were lost in their original were rediscovered preserved in Arabic translation. The exploration of the interaction between different peoples and times is a facet of historical inquiry that I enjoy.
A university degree course in this area would equip me with the skills and knowledge to utilise my understanding of the classical Western world in a wider global, historical context to facilitate my pursuit of postgraduate studies.
Middle Eastern Studies Personal Statement
My interest in the Middle East began at a young age as I attended a Jewish primary school with a Zionist ethos. It never did seem to measure up that a tiny "innocent" country should be picked on by all its big "bullying" neighbours; as I grew up I realised that there had to be more than one side to the story. Israeli-Palestinian relations and Israeli-Arab relations in general fascinate me. The entanglement of religion and politics in the Middle East seems to fuel the fire more than anything else, with borders and settlements appearing to me as little more than a background distraction from the real issue: Islamic-Jewish relations. The religious and cultural similarities between Jews and Muslims seem forgotten, which I feel is a pity because there are far more similarities than differences, especially culturally. These could, and should, be embraced to ultimately bring peace to the oldest civilisations in the world.
My A-level studies in politics, religious studies and philosophy have furthered my interest, particularly my AS philosophy unit on tolerance. The idea of different religions, nations, cultures being tolerant of each other seemed to make perfect sense to me, and developed my curiosity as to why something which would appear to be common sense is nearly impossible to enforce in reality. My study of politics has developed my debating ability; with many of the classes being discussion based I have often had to argue in favour of a statement I strongly disagree with. This has taught me to fully consider more than one point of view, a skill that is surely necessary when studying the political minefield of the Middle East.
My love of a good debate was furthered in some of my extra-curricular activities: in year twelve I participated in the Manchester School's Debating Competition and, this year, I will be chairing the sixth form debating society. To coincide with the general election I also led the school's Liberal Democrat campaign. When I undertook the task I underestimated the sheer volume of work that was required, but I was satisfied to take a healthy proportion of the credit for the fact that the Liberal Democrats won two out of the three seats at Wilmslow High (especially considering that our local MP is George Osborne!) Taking on this responsibility was, and continues to be, challenging, especially combined with my A-level work and my other extra-curricular activities.
Outside of school, my main hobbies are performance related. To develop my confidence I joined the school choir in year 10, and have been a member ever since. I also sing in the sixth form choir and my synagogue choir where I have been given the opportunity to sing solo on numerous occasions. Over the past four years my confidence has increased through acting on the stage in pantomimes. I am also fund raising for a charitable expedition to Kenya. However, the activities I find most rewarding are those where I interact with young(er) children. As a trained peer counsellor I work closely with a year seven form to ensure that they are settled and happy. If the students have any problems we (the peer counsellors) are able to talk to them in a more informal way than they may talk to staff. My work with primary age children began last September when I was given a job at the local Kumon center. As well as routine administration, I am often responsible for working with one or two of the younger children (aged three and four) to ensure they fully understand the tasks they have been given. I also work at a local primary school. Working with children has made me more articulate and has developed my conflict resolution skills as well as my communication skills.
I believe that these activities demonstrate my ability to juggle my time so that I am able to achieve a reasonable work/life balance in preparation for the demands of university.
I did my RS AS/A2 a year earlier than usual, and in year 12 (when completing the A2 course) we had half an hour before school each week as our lesson, compared to the 6 hours a week for my other three subjects.
Work harder than I did for my A2 exams, and be prepared to motivate yourself to work at uni. I think I should have taken a gap year, but you live and learn. GOOD LUCK!
Comments on the statement:
Not the best thing I've ever written, but it got me three offers and an interview, so it must have done something right!
Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018