In Golestan (Rose Garden), the 13th century Persian poet Sa’di’ writes:

All human beings are in truth akin;
When fate allots a member pangs and pains, If, unperturbed, another’s grief canst scan,

All in creation share one origin.
No ease for other members then remains. Thou are not worthy of the name of human.

The sagacious words of Sa’di’ ring true today as we look at the conflicts raging in the Middle East. The devasta- tion, despair, and drudgery of war have made millions of people grief-stricken and angst-ridden. What role should a U.S.-based academic institution play in responding to the pains of an entire region? At Syracuse University, we have decided that our best answer is to facilitate greater knowledge about the region among our student body so that each individual can offer a helping hand in their own unique way. Having completed a successful infancy period with the Minor in Middle Eastern Studies, the Middle Eastern Studies Program has decided to now make Syracuse University a premier institution for study of the Middle East with a full Major (BA degree in Middle Eastern Studies) and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Middle Eastern Affairs for graduate students. Hence we submitted proposals to create these new programs and hope that they will be approved by the university administration and the New York State Department of Education in the coming months. As part of this new plan we put together a dozen new and refurbished courses, facilitated the hiring of new faculty, and started an initiative to augment the Bird Library’s Middle Eastern collection particularly in the area of vernacular languages. In this issue of our newsletter you can read about the dynamic speakers who have visited SU, our new post-doctoral fellow, the treasure trove that is SU Press, and the superb work that many of our students are engaged in. In particular we have showcased the relevant study abroad opportunities available to Syracuse University students in Egypt, Turkey and England (the Muslim Cultures Program). As these students depart on their journeys, they would do well remembering the perceptive words of another Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, who in the 12th century wrote:

When things seem difficult and life uphill
And inch by inch the road will shorten,
And you’ll look back surprised and cheered to find And very soon the tedious climb will stop

Don’t look too far ahead Keep plodding on.
Till the roughest patches will be past and gone. That you have left so many miles behind.
And you will stand triumphant at the top

-Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Director