Portrait of Parveen Akhtar

Parveen Akhtar

Born and raised in Leeds as the first generation of children to migrant parents from a small village in Kashmir, education was always the focus instilled in me. Up to the age of 9, I spent many years travelling to and from Kashmir, until my father passed away when I was 10 years old. This was a very difficult time for us as my mother had to solely raise us in a country foreign to her at a time where she barely knew any English, thus my siblings and I took on a lot of responsibility. At the age of 19, I was happily married as it was seen as a priority at the time to be settled down, and had children shortly afterwards. I now have a husband and five children, whom I am sure you can imagine, come with many demands!

The main reason I chose to study for the degree is due to my love of the Arabic language, I have always been surrounded and fascinated by languages and Arabic particularly interested me as it is so widely spoken. On a personal note, I wanted to be able to understand important Islamic texts such as the Qur’an and hadith in their pure form. As Arabic was not offered on its own, it made sense for me to choose Islamic studies as Islam is influenced by the Arabic language. The Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies department is a very strong one at the University, and as my journey started in the LifeLong Learning Centre with the department, it made sense for me to continue studying in Leeds along with the ease of being at home with my family.

For me, the highlight of the course was the year I studied abroad. Although initially I was quite anxious about it having not travelled much and never having left my family alone, it was an experience that I will always cherish. It gave me opportunities I never normally would have had and never would have had the confidence to do alone. Being surrounded by native speakers and having Arabic lessons every day really benefitted me in gaining and practicing my classical Arabic as well as the local dialect.

The decision to continue to study for the Masters in Translation Studies for me seemed like the natural step to take as it allows me to further study and improve my Arabic language in an environment I was very happy and comfortable with. 

I have many ideas and plans for the future, there are many paths I could take though I do not know which I shall follow; however one thing I am certain of is that I will continuously aim to use the Arabic language acquired in my degree and the skills learnt to further develop myself, be it in academia or another career choice.