The College of Idaho is known both for its diversity and active student involvement, with more than 40 organized clubs on campus. New clubs are formed every year, and this fall, the C of I welcomed its newest—and possibly most unique—organization, the Arabic-Hebrew Club.
Inaugurated on Oct. 28, the Arabic-Hebrew Club was founded by five students with the help of Professor Federica Francesconi, who holds the College’s recently established Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies. The founding students have diverse backgrounds, but they came together and approached Francesconi with the goal of learning more about these two storied cultures after taking her classes in Jewish history, Zionism and modern Israel.
“We all shared the desire for Mediterranean food and learning the languages,” Francesconi said.
The club tied those desires to the Oct. 28 inauguration event, putting on an event with traditional food, Arabic and Hebrew languages, and culturally relevant movies for the campus community. Going forward from that first meeting, the group hopes to formalize the club’s focus on language. Doing so might attract additional interest and provide academic value for students with internationally-driven majors and/or career goals.
“We would like to turn the club into a one-credit class and maybe eventually a full three-credit course,” said Anya Yearwood, one of the Arabic-Hebrew Club’s founding members. “We think that these languages and cultures would be a good addition to the history and political economy programs.”
While adding academic courses will take some time, the club already has made large strides toward becoming one of the most distinctive student organizations on campus. It is the first club on campus to connect two cultures, and potentially the first club nationally to connect these specific cultures.
“To the best of my knowledge, we are the only campus in the United States that has an Arabic and Hebrew club together,” said Francesconi, who did some research on the subject.
This integration of both cultures stems from the desire for unique connections and potential for involvement on the C of I campus. With a large population of students from diverse backgrounds, and an even larger number of students that are heavily involved with campus, the club’s founders are seeking to expand the limits of learning beyond the classroom.
“We're learning along with you,” Yearwood said. “We're trying to show that The College of Idaho is really the college of I can do anything.”
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.