From Colby to the army
"Joining the military is a life experience; you learn a lot about the world and about yourself," Collin Jenkins '11, a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), says.
Jenkins' plan to join the military reflects not only a family tradition--his dad and brother were in the army--but also a genuine interest in politics and the Middle East. He can see himself working for the State Department one day, or another career where he can utilize the knowledge of the Arabic language that he developed while taking summer classes at Georgetown University and studying abroad in Oman last spring.
Jenkins, a native of Alexandria, Va., admits that, like so many Americans, all he really knew about the Middle East was what he had seen on the news prior to spending a semester abroad. He says that Oman is "very traditional and very conservative," explaining that he wasn't even allowed inside the main part of his host family's house because he was not supposed to see the women. "But at the same time," he explains, the people in Oman were "very tolerant" and accepting of his Western appearance and views.
Jenkins is currently an international studies major, but he plans to design an independent major in Middle Eastern studies. He is president of the Arabic Language & Culture Club on campus, and spends one night a week teaching Arabic with Tommy Tessier '10 to any students on campus who are interested in learning the language.
While Jenkins admits that he was initially "a little worried about attendance," a surprising number of students frequent these weekly lessons for which they receive no academic recognition, despite Jenkins' best efforts to make the class count for one academic credit. Nevertheless, "my goal is to have every new student [in my class] learn the alphabet," he says.
"Whether you agree with the wars or not," Jenkins says, "knowing Arabic is important... and it is a great career tool to get a job." He believes that knowledge of a language is essential to understanding a culture, citing the possible implications of the fact that Arabic "doesn't even have a verb for 'to be.'"
In the future, Jenkins hopes to publicize and expand the Arabic Language & Culture Club, "so that people know we're there," adding that he didn't even know the club existed when he first came to the College. "My ultimate goal is to get an Arabic department," Jenkins says, but he knows it will be at least a couple years before this idea can be fully addressed by administration.
On campus, Jenkins is also an athletic trainer assistant, a certified emergency medical technician and a member of Colby Emergency Response. He finds learning how to treat and prevent injuries interesting and helpful, as he maintains an extremely active lifestyle by training with ROTC and rock climbing as much as possible. He admits that he hasn't been climbing much lately because the ROTC program is particularly demanding during his junior year.
After graduating and joining the army, "I really want to fly helicopters," Jenkins says, "but I feel like I should do something where I can use my Arabic." As for life after the army, he is keeping an open mind. "The army can be a stepping stone to joining something else....I just don't know what that is yet."