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Rapp Center for Education - Classes Guaranteed to Stimulate Your Mind!

International Studies

Modern Egypt and the Middle East


with Monira Rifaat

Calendar Sep 23, 2019 at 10 am, runs for 3 weeks

Learn about Egypt in modern times, its social and political aspects, and its role in the Middle East.

Monira Rifaat was born and raised in Egypt.  Now a United States citizen, she makes her home in Rappahannock County. Dr. Rifaat is a retired pathologist.

Poland's History and Culture from its Beginnings to the Present Day


with Casey Eitner

Calendar Oct 17, 2019 at 3 pm, runs for 4 weeks

This class will present an overview of Poland from its founding in the 9th century through its zenith as a major European power and subsequent loss of sovereignty for 125 years, to its recreation in the 20th century, its WW II, Cold War and Solidarity experience, its dramatic 21st century growth, and the current polarization between nationalist populism and progressive democracy. Included will be plenty of images of its past, current sites and cultural landmarks, and samples of its food.

Casimir (Casey) Eitner was born in a Polish refugee camp in Africa of parents who lived through Soviet labor camps and an escape to Iran. He is actively writing a history of his family, with frequent visits to Poland where he works with historians and archivists.  The experiences of his family are deeply embedded in 20th century Polish history.  His paternal grandfather was a police commander murdered by the Russians in the Katyn Massacre of 1940. His maternal grandfather was a homesteader on the Russian border, awarded the land for having fought in the Polish Bolshevik War of 1919-1921.  

Note: This class will meet every two weeks on four Thursdays: October 10, 24, November 7 and 21, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The first class has been changed to October 17.

Will run

Today's Iran


with Tim Nolan

Calendar Nov 1, 2019 at 1:30 pm, runs for 4 weeks

This class will provide a detailed look at Iran over 4 consecutive weekly classes. The first class will cover recent Iranian history that influences Iran today, beginning in 1921 with the revolution that established the Pahlavi dynasty and ending in 2012 with the election of Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani. This period is important because many events in today’s Iran are being driven by events that occurred over this time period. The remaining 3 classes will focus on understanding Iran from 2012 to the present, and will include Iranian society and religion, the country’s government, important Iranian institutions, the economy, the military, and Iran’s nuclear program--as much as we know about it. We’ll also spend time looking at key persons and organizations in Iran that influence the country’s domestic situation now and in its international relations. Also, internationally, we’ll cover Iran’s geo-political and economic relationships with the Middle East region, the U.S., and other countries in the world that have a significant relationship with Iran. My approach to this class is to use primarily visual media like maps, graphics, video, and also group discussion.  I welcome questions during each class, and your own observations about Iran’s past, present, and your thoughts about its future will help contribute to each class.

Tim Nolan was a CIA intelligence officer until his retirement.  Prior to that, he worked for the Saudi Arabian Government and for the UN as a development economist.  He has provided intelligence and analysis throughout the Middle East including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, and Egypt.  He also lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 17 years where he became familiar with Islam, studied Saudi society, and learned conversational Arabic.  He also traveled throughout the region as part of his job and also as a tourist.  He has taught many classes at Portland State University, the University of Maryland University College (European Division), and Strayer University.

Will run

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