Mona Hashish, a theater specialist and lecturer in the Department of English at Suez Canal University in Ismailia, Egypt, has joined the Whitman College faculty as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for the 2008-09 academic year.

Hashish’s residency enhances the college’s efforts to increase offerings in the critical languages, including Arabic.  

Mona HashishMona Hashish

“We’re delighted for Mona and for the college,” said Mary Anne O’Neil, professor of foreign languages and literatures (French). “The placement is a real coup for Whitman.”

In the fall term, Hashish will teach elementary Arabic and a 200-level world literature course in international children’s theater. She’ll continue with elementary Arabic in the spring and teach a course in either the contemporary Arabic novel (in translation) or theater of the absurd.

The Cairo-born scholar will be based in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. O’Neil will help to develop Hashish’s courses and coordinate her activities with local public schools, service organizations, Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College.

“Mona is going to be pleasantly busy,” said O’Neil.

In their pursuit of a Fulbright scholar, O’Neil and Rachna Sinnott ’93, director of foundations and corporate relations, worked carefully and collaboratively to demonstrate to Fulbright administrators how a scholar working in Islamic studies would complement Whitman’s current curriculum and serve the college’s expanding academic vision.

“We now offer majors in Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, French, German and Spanish, as well as minors in Chinese and Japanese,” O’Neil and Sinnott wrote in the Fulbright application. “We have added faculty in African, Middle Eastern and Asian history, politics and religion.  We have been successful in bringing more international students to campus, including, every year, native speakers of Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish to stimulate the study of foreign language and culture.”

O’Neil and Sinnott also called attention to Whitman’s study-abroad programs, which last year saw 48 percent of the college’s junior class studying in foreign countries. They cited other recent grant awards and endowed lecture series that have advanced global studies on campus.

The missing link in Whitman’s international course offerings, O’Neil and Sinnott allowed in the Fulbright application, is a full-fledged program in Arabic language.

Hashish earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Ain Shams University in Cairo. At Suez Canal University, she has taught English literature, modern drama, practical criticism, writing and English as a second language.

Suez Canal University is a public school founded in 1976 by President Anwar al-Sadat as part of a national rebuilding scheme. The university boasts five colleges, 638 professors, 12,312 undergraduates and 1,588 graduate students.

The Scholar-in-Residence grant continues Whitman’s strong relationship with the Fulbright Program. Two Whitman professors, Elyse Semerdjian and Jason Pribilsky ’93, are recent recipients of Fulbright summer grants, and last year alone, five Whitman students received Fulbright awards.

“Fulbrights are big deals,” said O’Neil. “They bring a lot of national recognition to Whitman and will go a long way toward helping globalize the college. The students really want something like this. They deserve it, and they’ll appreciate the value it brings to their educational experience.”

Keith Raether
Office of Communications
Whitman College