NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Modern Middle East History Class at NECC

The Middle East is everywhere in today’s news media. Stories about attacks and bombings in those Middle Eastern countries, stories about the new Iranian Bill, and of course the stories involving ISIS. But do Americans fully understand what’s going on in the Middle East? Have we educated America’s youth enough to form an opinion on all these debates, and the choices our government is making as a result?

NECC offers a Modern Middle East history class which is taught by Professor Stephen Russell. It covers the history of the region, and the impact the United States and other nations have on it. It helps students understand that the problems in the Middle East started before America got involved, and allows students to see the people of the Middle East not just as Muslims or terrorists, but as everyday people, who have survived oppressive regimes, wars, and revolutions within their own country.

“I wish I knew about the middle east history class,” said NECC student Traeger Domoretsky, broadcast journalism major. Domoretsky, who is graduating NECC this spring, said “I wish someone had told me when I was a freshman coming into NECC the importance of knowing what’s going on in the Middle East. Now, being older, I listen to the news more and I hear stories about Iran and Afghanistan. I sort of understand what the newscasters are saying, but if I understood how it all began I’d feel more comfortable talking about these topics with people.”

David Peńa, a history major who is taking the Modern Middle East History class said “It’s amazing how much more to the Middle East there is besides what the media tells us.”
The media in America mainly focuses on the negative aspects of Middle Eastern politics and culture, which creates and reinforces strong prejudices in their viewers.

“The Middle East is still in the midst of their revolution,” said Peńa. “I think it’s important for students to take this class and grasp an understand of why this is all happening in the Middle East, because then maybe people wouldn’t hate on people just because they’re Muslim.”

Patrick Murphy, a Liberal Arts major, said, “I’m taking the Modern Middle East History course this semester, it has deepened my understand of what’s going on in those regions today.

He said, “People, especially the youth, need to be educated in what has happened in [the Middle East], and hopefully with that added knowledge and insight, we can begin to make the changes to help better our society for the people of all religions and races in the Arab world.”