Arabic film viewings, cultural dinners and visits to area mosques may be regular activities for one floor starting in the fall.
Two students who study Arabic ¡X Kathryn Angstadt (COL ¡¦10) and Valerie Novak (COL ¡¦09) ¡X are working on a proposal for the creation of a new Living-Learning Community, in which students would be encouraged to speak only Arabic with each other while on the floor. The floor¡¦s working name, ¡§Bayt Arabiyya,¡¨ means ¡§Arabic House¡¨ in Arabic.
¡§The intention is to be able to have a group of people together that want to speak Arabic,¡¨ Angstadt said. ¡§With any language, you learn the fastest when you¡¦re immersed in it¡Kand Arabic is difficult enough that to take literally any opportunity you can to immerse yourself in it is best.¡¨
Angstadt and Novak are in the beginning stages of their initiative, a formal process that can be initiated by either a department or student and that involves an application and an interview by a Residence Life committee, according to Stephanie Lynch, director of residence life. Applications to create new LLCs are available online and are due to Lynch by Nov. 27 and require commitments by at least 10 students to live in the LLC.
Lynch said the interviewing committee looks at ¡§student interest, how students will interact and participate in the community and how the community complements communities already in existence.¡¨
According to Novak, beyond offering an environment of immersion, the LLC would likely involve vocabulary sessions, weekly coffee hours and community outreach. Angstadt and Novak also hope to incorporate activities coordinated in conjunction with the Arabic and Islamic studies department, such as Arabic professor lectures or office hours on the floor with teaching assistants, although these details have yet to be confirmed with the Arabic and Islamic studies department.
Hanaa Kilany, a visiting assistant professor in the department who has been working closely with Angstadt and Novak, said the faculty in her department is excited about the prospect of an immersion floor on campus.
¡§It¡¦s for the learners,¡¨ Kilany said. ¡§It¡¦s a kind of informal support.¡¨
The proposal for an Arabic LLC comes amid the rapid expansion of the Arabic department in recent years. A soar in interest in learning Arabic has led the university to add four more beginner Arabic classes since the fall semester of 2003, when it had only six. The department also moved to Poulton Hall from the Intercultural Center this summer because of space constraints.
Terry Potter, a visiting associate professor in the department of Arabic and Islamic studies, said that if the proposal is accepted, the new LLC would allow Arabic students to further their education.
¡§It would provide students who want to speak Arabic with an opportunity to do that in moments when they would otherwise not be able to,¡¨ Porter said. ¡§They¡¦d find themselves using day-to-day language ¡K and Ëlearning] things they wouldn¡¦t necessarily learn about in the classroom.¡¨
A survey of interest and commitment has circulated through many Arabic classes, and approximately 30 students have indicated an interest, although none has committed to living in the LLC next year, Angstadt said.
¡§Down the line, I would definitely be interested in living there,¡¨ said Jennifer Majer (SFS ¡¦11), one of the signatories. ¡§It¡¦s the perfect way to gain exposure to the language, even before you go abroad.¡¨
¡§I love the idea of Arabic immersion on campus,¡¨ said Kristen Larson (SFS ¡¦10), who said she did not sign the petition because she plans to be abroad next year. ¡§For a school with such an international orientation, it¡¦s surprising to me that someone hasn¡¦t thought of this before.¡¨
There are currently six LLCs, including Culture and Performance, Global Living Community, Justice and Diversity in Action, Living Well, Muslim Interest Learning Community and Women in Leadership.