One of the attractions of the Arabic Flagship Program, in addition to the introduction to the culture and strong foundation in the language, is the sense of community that is developed through such an intensive program. While I have only begun my Arabic studies and am not yet an official member of the Flagship program, I have had the opportunity to attend the Roundtable Meetings and the Arabic Club.
This past Thursday, I attended the first meeting of the Arabic Club. It was kicked off with a Palestinian rap music video, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the members gave a presentation of Eid al-Adha, which was being celebrated at the time. I learned a lot about the holiday and how it is celebrated, particularly in Egypt. Because nearly half of the club members were in their first year, the more experienced members gave advice on studying Arabic here. They highly recommended the Arabic tutoring at the language learning lab and encouraged us to study outside of the classroom and to use additional resources, such as songs and movies or a language partner. ِAfterwards, several of the ladies in the Arabic club headed over to the Saudi Culture Club to get henna tattoos.
The next day, I attended the Arabic Flagship Roundtable, where Joanne Costa presented on different language learning styles and what she had found to be most effective for her personally. Since I have been learning Arabic for about a month, I had only a vague idea of what was going on and am probably not doing her justice. Thankfully, the director had upperclass students paired with the first year students to help us follow along. At the end, there was some discussion in groups of why we were learning Arabic. My partner and the director walked me through how to give different reasons, all in Arabic. However, I was still pretty unprepared when Joanne asked me to share why I was learning Arabic. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure what she was asking until the people next to me explained. I said احب لغلة, (aheb logha) which means “I like language.” The presenter asked if I meant the Arabic language or all languages – كل اللغات (kul alloghat). Yes, all languages. I probably looked completely clueless, but I enjoyed it. After this week, I am even more excited to be learning Arabic in this community.