Jarraya: “I believe in dialogue”

Sofien Jarraya, Arabic professor and Fulbright scholar instructs his students.

Colby Williams

Sofien Jarraya, Arabic professor and Fulbright scholar instructs his students.

Born in Germany, but spending most of his life in Tunisia, Professor Sofien Jarraya joined the Fulbright Program hoping to travel the world to help bring understanding between cultures through education. Now, calling Missouri Southern his educational home for the next year, Jarraya is teaching Arabic 101 and 203, and adjusting to the Joplin way of life.

Though living in another country and speaking in another tongue may seem impossible for most of us, Jarraya has devoted his life to his first love: the study of language.

He has pursued this love his entire life by becoming fluent in Arabic, French, and English, teaching English in a High School in Tunisia, receiving his bachelor of arts in translation, teaching Arabic to U.S. diplomats at the Foreign Service Institute in Tunis, and now planning to study Spanish.

Aside from all of this, Jarraya still finds time to enjoy the classical music he loves and to study Kung Fu, Aikido, and kick boxing on the side. Jarraya’s main hobby, however, is linguistic discourse and analysis, which means he is devoted to discovering hidden meanings in messages that people are being fed. He believes that by revealing these messages we can come to a better, and more peaceful understanding of other cultures.

“I believe in dialogue,” Jarraya said. “That’s why I’m here … the language of violence will lead to more violence.”

During his year at Southern, Jarraya wants to challenge MSSU students to break down language barriers by learning and analyzing the messages that we are being given by the voices around us, and, like the Fulbright Scholar he is, Jarraya is open for dialogue on the many subjects that often separate our cultures.

To hear Professor Jarraya speak a sample Arabic sentence visit the Web site at: www.thechartonline.com.