WLI-MT's goal is to bring Arabic language and culture learning to Bozeman Public Schools and the Greater Bozeman Area Community. With the support of the US State Department Teachers of Critical Languages Program and Qatar Foundation International, we work with the schools to develop engaging and exciting Arabic language and culture programming grades k-12.
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A STORY ON HOW LEARNING A SIMPLE GREETING OF "MARHABA" (HELLO IN ARABIC), CHANGES SO MUCH.
New MSU Arabic Professor, Bassam Alkholy knows first-hand how kindness can be generated through connecting with second languages & cultures.
Last weekend, Bassam was sitting in Costco with his wife and three children enjoying some lunch. Bassam and his family are Palestinian-Jordanian who moved here in August from Mississippi.
A local Bozeman student was sitting near them, also with her family. She noticed Bassam and walked up to him. "Marhaba!" she said, which means "hello!" in Arabic. "Ana ismi Angela," she said. "My name is Angela."Bassam was so taken aback he asked, "How do you know how to say hello and your name in Arabic?" She said, "I am learning Arabic with Mr. Mahi, my 1st grade language teacher."
This small interaction was huge for both families. Bassam's children felt less "other," in a new town so different from what they are used to. This young girl made a bridge and connection through knowing a few basic Arabic words. She wanted to share. She was curious and friendly. The two families were able to talk and share their stories, all because of this six-year-old. There were tears in Bassam's eyes when he shared this with us.
"Your program is amazing. I want to work with you and help you bring Arabic to these young children."
Through our in-school day Arabic program, a young six-year old greeted an Arabic family and started a conversation at Costco. Think what the world could be if more American young people felt comfortable and excited to say "Marhaba" to others in our country and in our local community. This is our hope, to make more stories like this one through our programming.
- Written by wli-mt executive director, elizabeth williamson