As a child and teen, Xenia Makosky ’24 (art history, Middle East studies) was introduced to Dickinson through her teachers, many of whom were alumni. After researching liberal-arts colleges throughout the Northeast and participating in Dickinson’s Britton Scholar program, she knew she’d found her perfect college fit. During her first two years on campus, she participated in research through the Writing Center, completed an internship at the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Asian Art and studied abroad in Jordan and Morocco. Xenia also is the recipient of the prestigious U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship and Dickinson’s Presidential Scholarship, among other honors, and she’s involved as a student-supervisor at the Clarke Forum, a Writing Center tutor and through various campus groups.
Clubs and organizations:
The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues (student project manager supervisor), Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center (English and Arabic writing tutor and Writing Center Research Team), Chamber Music, Arabic Club, Orthodox Christian Fellowship and Project SHARE.
Presidential Scholarship, Phi Beta Kappa, Summer Arabic Language and Media Scholarship in Oman through the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (SALAM), U.S. State Department National Security Language Initiative for Youth Alumni Travel Program (NSLI-Y), John Patton Memorial Prize for High Scholastic Standing, U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) and Britton Scholar
Best thing about my major:
Art history is the ultimate liberal art. Through studying art, we are able to learn about history, politics, economics and trade, religion, culture, philosophy, languages, architecture, environmental studies, music and more! All of the art-history faculty have different concentrations, and the variety of courses in the major gives students exposure to diverse art forms spanning numerous continents and millennia. The faculty also have high expectations and push students to produce their best work.
Simply put, I love Middle Eastern and North African cultures, and everything from the language to the history of the region captivates me. I love how interconnected the Middle East studies curriculum is. Whether you are taking a class on modern Egyptian culture, Hebrew texts, public diplomacy in the Arab world, or an Arabic class on Islamic art, all of the classes overlap in some way and together, they provide a thorough understanding of the Middle East.
I love following the Tour de France and professional cycling.
On choosing Dickinson:
I looked all over the Northeast for small, liberal-arts colleges. In the end, I discovered that Dickinson allowed me to pursue all my interests, such as music, language, and art, on one campus, and it just so happened to be less than 10 miles from my house. Since I grew up in Carlisle and was a student in the Carlisle Area School District, many Dickinson alumni were also my teachers. (Shout out to Sarah Weissman Clayville ’98, P'23, Jeri Lehr Ehly ’79, Matthew Fahnestock '02, Ellie Cutler Park '11, Deborah DeGroot Masland '80, and Katherine Ratcliff Schock '96!) Not only were the Dickinson alumni good writers, and thinkers, but they cared about me and wanted me to succeed.
Knowing so many amazing Dickinson alumni affirmed to me that there is something special about Dickinson and the type of people it produces. Furthermore, I had interactions with Dickinson faculty and retired faculty when I was in high school. The relationships I cultivated with them and the time and attention they gave me as a high-school student (not even a full-time Dickinson student, yet!) proved to me that Dickinson is a place where the faculty truly care and listen to young people.
I have enjoyed interacting with all the faculty, but I particularly love the professors who teach Arabic. Senior Lecturer in Middle East Studies Magda Siekert was the first professor I ever had at Dickinson as a Britton Scholar in high school, and she immediately made me feel welcome. She has lots of energy, and she cares deeply about every student in her class. Senior Lecturer in Middle East Studies Mohammad Abu Shuleh is also one of my favorite professors. He’s an interactive instructor, and he creates a relaxed learning environment with lots of humor and delicious Arab sweets. He makes all students feel welcome and truly embraces Arab hospitality.
Favorite place on campus:
A red Adirondack chair on the Academic Quad.
On studying abroad:
I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, in fall 2022. It was a life-changing experience. I had the most incredible host family, and my language and cultural knowledge grew immensely through cuisine, music, dancing, friendships and traveling to places of cultural and historical significance.
In May 2023 I had the opportunity to travel to Marrakesh, Morocco, with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Alumni Travel Program. Although I originally participated in NSLI-Y in 2020, due to COVID, I was not able to go abroad. To make up for this experience, a group of 20 other alumni and I traveled to Marrakesh and participated in a cultural exchange. Culturally, linguistically and geographically, Morocco is completely different from Jordan, but it was still a beautiful and eye-opening experience.
This summer I am traveling to Oman to study Arabic with the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. I am so excited to learn more about Omani culture and continue my Arabic studies. I cannot wait to share my adventures with the Dickinson community this fall.
About my internship:
Last summer Assistant Professor of Art & Art History Wei Ren recommended I apply for an internship at the National Gallery of Asian Art. As a curatorial intern within the Department of Islamic Art, I researched and wrote about Sufism for a new exhibit, Beyond Rumi: Sufi Arts and Practices. The virtual exhibit will be opening in spring 2024, and I am excited for everyone to view it and learn more about Sufism.
About my research:
During my first and second years at Dickinson, I worked with three other writing tutors and John Katunich, the associate director of the writing program, on research involving multilingualism in the Writing Center. Our research focused on the complex identities that multilingual tutors navigate and how these identities shape tutoring practices.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published October 10, 2023