Our Arabic program at Loyola University Chicago has been privileged in February 2018 to host a one-hour Arabic workshop at one of the Chicago public Schools in the neighborhood. Five Arabic students’ volunteers (Kyle, Uljana, Maria, Veronika & Sarah) accompanied ustaadha Sawsan in a visit to a second grade classroom. They introduced basic sounds and alphabet and sat in groups helping students write their names and reflect on orientations of looking at a different language.
The kids in second grade were amazingly respectful and interactive with our Loyola volunteers and they did beautiful work in sounding Arabic aloud and writing their names in Arabic letters. Some kids expressed the challenges of writing names in Arabic while others described it as a form of Art. Thanks to the kind support and budget provided by our department Chair, Professor Susana Cavallo, all kids received complimentary Loyola pencils and “future Alum” stickers! We are very thankful to Mrs. Powers, second grade teacher, and the administration for allowing us to engage via Arabic with a young open-minded curious group of kids. Please enjoy sample photos and excerpts of our Loyola Arabic volunteers’ reflections on this unique experience.
Maria: Arabic 104; junior double majoring in Psychology and Criminology with a minor in Arabic
“Volunteering at CPS was an amazing experience. Firstly, it was great being able to connect to the community around LUC and seeing the diversity of the community through the diversity found in a microcosm such as a classroom. Secondly, it was heartwarming seeing little kids wanting to learn something new and allow themselves to be more open to new experiences that could potentially change their whole worlds. From the small group I worked closely with, only one of the four children was accustomed to the Arabic alphabet and became my little helper. The rest of the children were eager to learn not only their names but also important words like “mom” and “dad.” Just the thought that some child would go home and show their parent all the new things they had learned today and I had in a way contributed to their education made me reconsider the importance of all the educators I have had throughout my life. Finally, being able to teach someone else a few letters that over a year ago I saw as dots and lines connected to one another made me realize how far I have come to learning Arabic, an accomplishment I would not have achieved without the help of my educator, Dr. Abbadi. They say that you don’t really know if you know something until you teach it to someone else, and this experience has definitely showed me how far I have come in learning Arabic by being able to teach little children. This experience was unforgettable and reaches on of the best experiences I have had in my life!”
Sarah : Arabic 102; junior majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Bioethics
“ It’s truly heart warming to spend time away from campus and give time to others. It is an even more inviting experience when surrounded by the sweetest second graders the Chicago Public School system has ever seen! With the growing refugee population in and around the Rogers Park community, it is admirable that Arabic is being taught to such a young group, and am so grateful that I could volunteer with Ustadha Sawsan and other students!”
Veronika: Arabic 102; sophomore – undecided major
“I’m so glad I was able to take part in this experience! Knowing very little Arabic, I was still able to teach what I already knew. It left me feeling accomplished and excited to continue my Arabic studies! The Arabic alphabet was just as exciting for the students to learn, as it was for me teaching them the alphabet. This experience made the learning of the language a reality.”
Kyle: Arabic 104; junior majoring in English Literature with a minor in both Arabic Language and Studio Art
“Teaching these students how to spell and pronounce their names in Arabic was such an exciting experience! Because several of the students had names of Arabic origin, students were able to learn how important and fun the Arabic language is. This experience also reminded me of how difficult it was to read from right to left when I started learning Arabic!”
Uljana: Arabic 104; senior double majoring in Computer Science and Spanish with minors in Arabic, Computer Forensics, and Psychology of Crime and Justice
“It was amazing to see how the students were full of energy to learn about Arabic. The group of kids I helped was very enthusiastic about writing their names in Arabic. Some of them even asked me to help them write their relatives’ names in Arabic. It was a wonderful opportunity that allowed me to see that the teaching profession is so crucial and delicate, especially when dealing with young students. Moments like these help us come together as a community by sharing our language, culture, and experiences.”