We speak today with Dr. Lana Adnan Issa, Professor of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Social Justice with the American University of Sovereign Nations (AUSN), a new, international, online U.S. based university and a freelance English Arabic translator/interpreter here in Bangkok. She is one of the world’s leading experts on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).
What brought you to Thailand?
It was my then fiancé, later my dear husband, who arranged for me come to Thailand. I first arrived back in March 2007 from Syria where I was working at the time with a Swiss based international cargo inspection corporation. I got a student visa to attend Webster University Thailand for a Master’s degree in International Relations. I only had two weeks to learn how to fully operate here before my fiancé ran off to Afghanistan for a year to work on a U.S. government counter narcotics advisory project leaving me on my own! I began school the day after I arrived since the semester had already started.
What has changed the most here?
Vehicle traffic has definitely improved since the BTS and MRT has been adding more lines and expanding outside of the city. The air pollution is significantly less and there are many more skyscrapers, shopping malls, and tall buildings.
What has changed the least here?
The Thai people. They have always been most welcoming of visitors anywhere I have travelled in the world. They have always remained very friendly, most generous and always made visitors, guests and people like me feel right at home. That is why so many Arabs love to come to Thailand. The Thai people always have rolled out the welcome mat for everyone. It is a great honour for them to have people come from far away to visit their wonderful country.
Can you tell us about your work at the American University of Sovereign Nations (AUSN) in the U.S.?
I teach Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) classes online when required. I also handle any Arabic translation work when requested.
Can you tell us about your work here in Thailand?
I was able to get a highly sought after internship with UNESCO here in Bangkok with Dr. Darryl R.J. Macer, Head of the Regional Unit for Social and Human Sciences-Asia and the Pacific (RUSHSAP) Unit in 2008 when I was in graduate school for a Masters degree in International Relations at Webster University Thailand. The programme granted six graduate semester hours for an internship with any approved NGO here in Thailand. The UNESCO internship was the hardest one to get into. In 2009 I applied for a position as an Arabic teacher for their staff members at UN/ESCAP in Bangkok. UN staffers could earn more money and gain faster promotion if they spoke another of the five official UN languages, Arabic being one of them. That was a great job since I got a UN ID card, a special visa and was treated as a UN staffer. I did that job for 6 years until the employment rules changed so I resigned. Since 2014 I have been working for SEATE Services based in the U.S. as a freelance English-Arabic translator and interpreter. I have done a lot of freelance translation work remotely overseas as a subcontractor for Bumrungrad International Hospital for over a decade. I have also done a lot of work in translating almost a dozen large educational projects for UNICEF and UNHCR-MENARO, both based in Beirut, Lebanon.
Can you tell us about your family?
I am with my husband who I first met back in Basra, Iraq in 2003. I also have two wonderful children, L.J. and J.L. And my sister works as a Medical Coordinator in the Arabic Section at Bumrungrad International Hospital.
What do you do for fun?
Sometimes we all will go down to Jomtien or Pattaya for half a day on one of my rare days off with my family and my sister. Going out to the movies and dinner with everyone is a lot of fun. I also watch TV movies.
What are your favourite places to visit?
Jomtien, Pattaya, Cha-am, and Hua Hin. I love going to all these places!
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to move to Thailand?
Learn as much Thai as you can. Be friendly, patient and flexible. Don’t lose your temper and stay cool. Learn the culture!
What is the future for you?
I take each day as it comes – “Insha’Allah!” – I place my trust in God for the future.