Flagship Faculty and Staff
Dr. R. Kirk Belnap, Director
Office: 3064 JFSB
Kirk regularly directs language camps for high school students on the BYU campus as well as BYU’s annual Fall semester intensive Arabic program in Amman. He heads the Project Perseverance research group that conducts research and develops resources to assist students in becoming effective self-regulating language learners who proactively work to accomplish their goals. Recent publications include:
Anxiety: Stress, Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety, and Enjoyment During Study Abroad in Amman, Jordan (with Dan P. Dewey and Patrick Steffen). Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 38:140-161. 2018.
Lessons from 25 Years of experimenting with an Arabic study abroad program (with Matthew Bird), in John L. Plews and Kim Misfeldt (eds), Second Language Study Abroad: Programming, Pedagogy, and Participant Engagement, 49-82. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. 2018.
Project Perseverance and Journaling: Toward Creating a Culture of Engagement during Study Abroad (with Jennifer Bown, Thomas Bown, Chantelle Fitting, and Alyssa White), in C. Sanz & A. Morales-Front (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice, 246-260. New York, NY: Routledge. 2018.
Rita E. Cortez, Managing Director
Office: 3122E JKB
Rita has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas-San Antonio. She has over 20 years experience in high level management most of which involved overseeing federally funded grant projects. She is originally from Texas and has three children. She came to BYU in 2009 and loves reading, cultural arts and music.
Ahmad Karout, Coordinator
Office: 3122C JKB
Professor Ahmad Karout has decades of experience, teaching, directing, and coordinating Arabic programs in Beirut and Damascus at the French Institute for the Middle East (IFPO). Prior to coming to BYU as a visiting professor in 2018, he prepared students and diplomats at the French Embassy to pass high-level exams in Arabic, observed classes, and provided feedback to instructors. As head of the Arabic language program for US diplomats at the US Embassy in Damascus, Syria, he linguistically trained ambassadors and other diplomats. From 1997 to 2008, he taught and directed summer programs at Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He likewise helped oversee BYU’s summer Arabic program for high school students in STARTALK programs from 2010 to 2019.
He has a PhD in Second Language Acquisition, and has a Masters in Second Language Acquisition, a bachelor’s degree in French Literature and did graduate work at the University Lumière in Lyon, France, teaching French as a second language. He has published four audio textbooks for Levantine Arabic and recently completed two Literary Arabic textbooks that will soon be published. He has experience in teacher training and OPI and ACTFL exams. He is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. He leads BYU’s Arabic Debate Student Team in Qatar Debates every year.
Paxton Anderson, Flagship Full-Time Assistant
Office: 3122 JKB
Paxton graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management in April 2023, from BYU-Idaho. He worked as a teaching assistant and tutor at BYU-Idaho for two years before graduating. In his free time, he enjoys watching football, playing video games, hanging out with his family, and playing with his three dogs.
STUDENT ASSISTANT II
Emma is originally from Springville, Utah. She served a mission in the Madrid, Spain where she learned Spanish. Emma is majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic. She loved her time in Morocco as part of the Arabic Flagship Program and one of here highlights from her trip overseas was spending time with the people and being part of a new society and culture. Emma loves to travel, read, listen to music, play volleyball, watch K-dramas, and spend time with her family.
Office: 3122 JKB
Phone: (801) 422-9189
FLAGSHIP WEB DEVELOPER
Cristian is from Dallas, TX where he grew up with his 5 younger siblings. After serving a mission in Arizona and Mexico City, he returned to BYU and is currently studying Information Systems. He loves to try new recipes with his wife, skateboard, and go running in the evenings.
Office: 3122 F JKB
Chandler Hansen is from Meridian, ID, and is studying Economics at BYU. Prior to going to BYU, he served a mission in the Cauayan, Philippines mission speaking Tagalog. Some of Chandler's interests include mountain biking, playing soccer and tennis, going to the gym, and spending time with his wife.
Office: 3122 JKB