At Loyola, our Arabic learners benefit from multiple opportunities for in-depth to the Arabic language and culture. Our mini-trips to the Arabic speaking suburbs of Chicago provide thought-provoking enrichment for students as they experiences the sights, sounds and tastes of the Middle East right here in Chicago.

Reflection from Megan

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by sabbadi

It was such a unique opportunity to experience this “ mini-immersion” with my professor and her family, as well as a new friend. Throughout this trip I was continuously reminded of the importance of community. In Arab countries, neighborhoods and communities are centered on hospitality and social interaction with one’s neighbors. It was so wonderful to see that this kind of community thrive in such a diverse city.

Throughout this trip we visited several Arab markets and bakeries, taking in the aromas as well as observing the kinds of foods that are typically cooked in the Arab world. It was fun to see familiar vocabulary as we walked up and down the aisles—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written down “chicken” or “bread” in Arabic!

I was able to witness the beauty of older traditions and customs still so vibrant in a society filled with the constant drive of becoming more and more modernized. Where I vividly saw this was when we sat down for lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant. I can’t begin to explain how delicious the food was. The waiters, also addressing me as though they were my uncle was both fascinating but immensely welcoming. They were fully clothed in very traditional attire for Palestinians as well as Jordanians, men were wearing the keffiyeh in the colors of black and white.

As well as visiting various markets, bakeries, we also had the opportunity to visit a mosque together. I have always been so intrigued by the sanctuaries where people worship as well as the different ways in which people pray and find their sense of spirituality. It was really beautiful to experience this with my professor. We walked in, took off our shoes and spent a few minutes in quiet. One thing that I found particularly striking was the simplicity of a mosque; I am used to many furnishings (pews, chairs, altar, etc.) of the cathedral where I worship, so the fact that there was none was something new to me. I admired this simplicity because it puts the focus completely beyond the material world when worshipping and praying. It is reflective of a simple way of life that the Islamic religion advocates for its followers.

This trip was so incredibly dense with new fascinations as well as new words I can now add to the ever-expanding list of new vocabulary. With so much to take in, it was a little overwhelming at times, but in a very positive way. To be honest, I was a little shy to speak up when surrounded by such eloquent, naturally-spoken Arabic dialogue. I was humbled once again as I reminded myself how much I have yet to learn.  I hope to travel abroad by the time I am a Junior here at Loyola, and this trip was a chance for me to experience Arabic immersion. This trip was an extra motivation for me to continue pushing myself inside and outside of the classroom. As well as this being a chance to immerse myself, it was an immense learning experience and simply an enjoyable day filled with excursion!

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