July 26, 2011
Claire Wasserman, Sophomore
From: Prescott, Arizona
Exploring: French, religious studies, political economy
Not your typical major: I’m basically a Middle Eastern studies major, except that Lewis & Clark doesn’t have one of those, so I’m piecing one together. As my advisor told me early on, you don’t have to be defined by your major. On paper, mine happens to be French, but I’m also taking classes in international affairs, economics, politics, and Islamic studies, and that all adds up to a bigger picture of who I am.
Not your usual, linear path: I came to Lewis & Clark as an international affairs major very sure that I wanted to be a diplomat. Then I took Islamic Origins, a religious studies class with Paul Powers, and that just blew open the doors for me. It shifted my entire focus toward Islamic studies and the Middle East. Paul, without a doubt, has been a major influence on my academic path.
Next steps, overseas: Having accrued some extra credits, I get to spend my entire junior year abroad. I’m taking a leave of absence this fall to study in Amman, Jordan, before doing a Lewis & Clark French immersion program in Senegal next spring. In both programs, I’ll be living with host families and continuing my Islamic studies, which will contribute directly to this path I’m on. It’s all perfect.
The road ahead: Ultimately, I’d like to do some kind of work in the Middle East that is helpful to people without necessarily applying our Western values to their society. I hope to live and work there, at least in the beginning. It’s unfair to be the hand reaching into someone else’s business if you’re not willing to experience their situation yourself.