Kyle Kanell has never left North America, but this summer his studies will take him across the Atlantic Ocean to Meknes, Morocco, where he has been awarded the ProjectGO scholarship for an intensive study of Arabic.
Originally from Beaver, Pennsylvania, Kanell transferred to Allegheny College in the fall of 2017 from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
From his first day on Allegheny’s campus, he began an intensive study of the Arabic language, completing four Arabic courses over two semesters.
Assistant Professor of Arabic Reem Hilal has been Kanell’s instructor this year and has seen his skill grow with each course.
“Kyle is a good fit for the scholarship because he has demonstrated interest in learning about the cultures of the Middle East, and the fact that he has taken all the available Arabic-designated courses this year, outside of intermediate-level Arabic, tells me that he is committed to learning about all different aspects of the Middle East,” Hilal says. “Being abroad in Morocco will provide him with more exposure to the region, through interactions with native speakers of Arabic and exposure to one of many Arab cultures. It will enrich his understanding of the region and its people.”
Kanell, a rising junior, is majoring in international studies with a focus in the Middle East/North Africa, and minoring in economics. He is also an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet. ProjectGO scholarships are administered by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I knew from a young age that the military was the right path for me,” he says. “I also knew from holding leadership positions on varsity sports teams and high school clubs that I had great potential in terms of leadership. Contracting as an officer cadet in ROTC was the perfect fit to fulfill both those aspirations.”
Professor of French and International Studies Program Chair Laura Reeck is particularly excited about this opportunity for Kanell, as she was one of the first people to help him with his transfer to Allegheny and to advise him on studying overseas.
“Not long into the fall semester, he asked me when his first opportunity to study abroad would be,” says Reeck. “It was obvious that he was ready and waiting. I told him that he would probably need to wait a year. I don’t think he much liked what I was telling him. Not long after that, knowing that he is an Army ROTC Cadet, I came across the ProjectGO scholarship and suggested to him that he look into it. This scholarship will provide him with intensive Arabic-language instruction in Morocco, which will allow him to continue his Middle East/North African coursework and to get to know Moroccan society and culture.”
Reeck noted how intensive, immersive studies of language is one of the best ways to improve language proficiency and fluency. “Especially for a language that requires significant dedication to learning like Arabic,” Reeck says, “learning a language in context is incredibly motivating. Meknes is a beautiful city with a rich cultural history and heritage. I’m certain Kyle will appreciate that aspect of it, and I know he’s looking forward to learning more about Morocco generally.”
Kanell’s experience with Arabic at Allegheny and in Morocco will take him further on his path toward government work. “Immediately following graduation, I will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army,” says Kanell.
“By studying in Morocco on scholarship, my understanding of the culture, livelihood, and particularly my abilities in Arabic will become greatly enhanced,” he adds. “I am looking into becoming an active duty officer in a combat arms branch. After that, I hope to work for the government in either a diplomacy or intelligence position.”