The Daily News Journal
18 August 2010
In the shadow of the largest Kurdish community in the nation, MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) will become one of a mere handful of American universities offering Kurdish language courses in the fall 2010 semester.
“The reason we think we can do it here when other places can’t is because we have the support of the Kurdish community,” said Kari Neely, assistant professor of foreign languages and a member of the working group that helped devise the classes.
According to a press release, estimates of the number of Kurds living in Nashville range from 11,000 to 14,000 people.
Allen Hibbard, English professor and director of the Middle East Center; William Canak, sociology professor and advisor to the KSA; Clare Bratten, an electronic media communication professor who has produced documentaries on the Kurdish people, and Neely formed a working group to explore the possibilities.
Neely led efforts to develop Kurdish language proposals and apply for a Tennessee Board of Regents Diversity Grant to provide support for an instructor. To respond quickly to student interest before the Kurdish classes could be offered, the group devised a spring 2010 special topics course titled “Introduction to Kurdish History and Culture” as a part of the Middle East Studies minor.
The instructor will be Deniz Ekici of the Center for Kurdish Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Ekici, a native [Kurd] of Turkey who is working on his doctorate, earned his bachelor’s degree from Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul and his master’s degree from City University of New York.
Ekici will teach Kurmanji, which is the most prevalent dialect in Kurdish and the one spoken by most Kurds in the Nashville community.