Class of 2003
Georges Montillet has always had a knack for learning languages. His first language is French, but to hear him speaking Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, German, English, Arabic, or Persian, you wouldn’t know it.
“It’s allowed me to make friends around the world,” Georges says. He means that literally: In the summer of 2010, Georges led a one-month summer Arabic language and cultural immersion program in Cairo, Egypt, for undergraduate and graduate students through the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute.
He has also spent time in Lebanon, and is enthusiastic about encouraging students to visit and work in the Middle East.
“You’re not going to get anywhere if you just do classwork,” he says. “You have to love what you do, to be intellectually aggressive enough to learn as much as possible.”
Studying classics at Franciscan University, he says, helped him learn how to learn. “I had to learn Arabic in one summer, between passing my doctoral exams in classics at Notre Dame and beginning PhD work at Yale,” Georges relates. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a strong background in classics; the skill set required to learn Arabic was the same one I’d used in studying classics.”
He is particularly grateful for the influence of Dr. Joseph Almeida, Franciscan University classics professor who has stayed in contact with him and mentored him since his graduation.
Georges is currently finishing his PhD in Near Eastern languages and civilization, while working with the PMEI. He wants to continue working with cultural programs in the Middle East, like the summer language program, once he completes his PhD.
“There are a lot of possibilities there,” Georges says. “There is a lot of interest in the Middle East these days.”