Language Lessons

August 4, 2004 

There was a man and his small son in a Staples store in New York. They were buying pens for the kid — back to school shopping. They could find only packs of five. The father was convinced they needed only two. The boy said it was up to him, they could go to another store if he wanted to. After some debate they left to go to another store in an attempt to find pens sold individually.

I was shopping, too: notebooks in a pack of three, index cards in a pack of five, a five pack of pens and a twelve pack of post-it notes that could last for years.

Instead of sailing somewhere or playing golf I am seated at a small wooden desk at London's School of Oriental and Asian Studies, SOAS, taking intensive Arabic for one month in a room with no fan.

It's a full day until 4:30pm. They shuttle in a fresh teacher in the afternoon. During breaks I walk in a counterclockwise circle around Russell Square and eat roasted vegetable sandwiches from the canteen. After two days of class the teachers now write everything on the board in arabic script, lines and symbols. Sometimes I look at the markerboard in amazement — it looks like some strange mathmatical equation — but slowly, if you sound it out, you can make sense of it. The words at this point are like puzzles. What is even stranger is that at night, at a small round wooden table under a slow moving ceiling fan, I make up index cards, copying over what we learned that day. What seems strange to me is that I enjoy doing it. I draw the lines and it gives me pleasure. It is slow now, but if I can stay with it it should get faster.

About a year ago I was in the Iraqi town of Fallujah with FOX's Jordanian fixer Ahmed. We arrived during funeral services for a local farmer who was killed at a checkpoint by a U.S. soldier. The details of the killing were in dispute. It was a large crowd of men in white. Initially we were welcomed in a large mourning tent with a few hundred villagers and some of the mourners spoke to us on camera. Then there was a big debate about something. The men got in a shouting argument. My cameraman had stepped out of the tent for a cigarette. I was not happy he was missing this footage of dramatic debate. I asked Ahmed to translate for me but he hesitated.

"Don't worry about it," he said.

Soon the mood towards us seemed to change and we were waved at with angry arms to leave. It happened quickly and we threw the gear into the car and drove off, without even packing properly. I had no idea what had changed. It was only on the way home that Ahmed said the debate was about what to do with the American.

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E-mail Steve your questions.


I just read your article.  It has been a while since I have read something so moving.  I am at a loss as to what to write, which, for me, is usually not possible.  You have my utmost respect.  Our guys in the military ( and females!) continue to have my thoughts and prayers. 
Thank you,
Richelle (Lafayette, LA)
Keep the stories coming; we the people need to hear it first hand, and it takes true courage for someone like yourself to sit there, deal with it, and keep doing your job.
Semper Fidelis,

Sgt Thomas


I just wanted to say thank you for all of the reporting you have done since the war in Iraq began.  I have watched you through some rough spots and wonder how you keep going. Please tell the soldiers that you come across, that we haven't forgot them here at home, and we support them all the way. We'll be praying for you, and your crew also.


Amie (Clearwater, FL)

Thank you, Steve for just doing your job next to all those soldiers who are also just doing the jobs, being heroes.  

Amy (Lake Geneva, WI)


Your reports are often breathtaking to watch and your blogs are always thrilling to read. Keep up the great work.


I think you are doing a great job and as a member of the military I understand and appreciate the risks you are taking to get the truth out to the world.

Keep up the good work and keep your head down!

266th RANS
Idaho Air National Guard

Hey Steve,

Your Rwanda story just made me cry. That's a good thing. There's a lot of good in this world. The contrast, for you, must be astounding. Thank you for your work - and for your sacrifices. God bless (and keep your head down)

Jim (Alexandria, VA)


I feel like I've been every step of this war with you - thank you for your reporting. Just want to tell you to stay safe, and know that you are appreciated!

Kay (Brownwood, TX)

Dear Steve,

I'm on my way right now to catch up on anything I've missed that you've posted on the Fox News website, keep up the good work and take care of yourself, the world would be a much less informed place without you! Thank you again and God Bless America,

Gary (Bigfork, MT)

Dear Steve,

Just read your first installment on "The Worst Thing."  Steve, your story is breaking my heart!   We switched to watching FOX News exclusively for about a year and a half now, followed you since last year in Kuwait and then Iraq and watched you take more and more incredible (and --I say this in love--stupid?) chances.  The personal risks you take to get the story are--well,  I worry about you, man!  We love you.  Please be careful!! 


The VanB's


Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.