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Kevin in Sidi Bou Saïd, Tunisia in June, 2011.


The language-savvy UMD senior will spend a fully-funded year at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program.

Ever since Kevin Butts put his hands on a $6 book about the Arabic alphabet, he has been intensely studying the language.  “I got into The Arabic Alphabet after graduating . . . from high school.  It had a brief intro to the language’s structure—and how it’s reflected in the meticulously tailored script—and bundles of example words to practice.  I was hooked.”

Butts’ linguistic journey throughout his collegiate years is both exemplary and inspiring.  The Arabic and Spanish double degree candidate has been a participant in the Arabic Flagship program, a resident in the Language House for six semesters, and a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship.  Most recently, he received a prestigious scholarship through the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) program to study for a fully-funded year in Cairo, a grant awarded to a mere 20 students nationwide.

“My experience these four years has given me the tools to look carefully at what I consider among the most misunderstood regions on Earth,” Butts reflected. 

A strong advocate for studying abroad, Butts has already spent two months in Sidi Bou Saïd, Tunisia, participating in home-stay and cultural excursion activities.  With the CASA program, he will spend an entire year in Egypt participating in an intensive Arabic language and culture program.  “[Studying abroad] gives the mature traveler the chance to truly glimpse another culture, to break through the poisonous clouds of stereotypes and propaganda.  This is especially important with a ‘critical’ language like Arabic.”

A self-confessed language fanatic, Butts has future plans to learn more languages and “use them to help people, to build bridges.”  For now, he is content learning Arabic.  “I’m obsessed with studying language; Arabic is obsessed with studying itself.  We get along perfect.”


Stacia Odenwald ('16 French Language and Literature)
SLLC Public Relations and Media Intern


Date of Publication: 
Tuesday, April 09, 2013