Salah Ibrahim's youngest daughter Maram was only a week old when he kissed her goodbye.
The 42-year-old Egyptian teacher is spending a year away from his family to live in Plymouth and teach Arabic to students and adults, give presentations and spread brotherhood and harmony in a community he calls "the perfect society."
"When you are minutes from Sheboygan, Appleton, Milwaukee, Madison, you find all these wonderful places which is completely different from other states. People are so friendly. They are wonderful."
Salah — in his class, as in his native land, he's addressed by his first name — is teaching Arabic I and Arabic II, taking students through grammar and vocabulary lessons interspersed with cultural instruction using music and stories.
The program is part of the Teachers of Critical Languages Program funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by American Councils for International Education.
Plymouth High School world languages department head Laura Koebel heard about the program a few years ago, and secured a grant to bring it to Plymouth. This is the second and final year for the grant in Plymouth, and the district is currently looking at ways to keep Arabic on the schedule next year.
In addition to teaching high school students, Salah is also leading an Arabic language class for adults through the community education department and is holding a series of free lectures about Egypt.
Though he is very proud of his students' achievements — there are 36 Plymouth High School students enrolled— he hopes to share his love of his country with their parents, as well.
"Just students are not enough," he said. "Their parents need to know what is going on, what is happening. When they come to learn Arabic, through fun of course, I show them some of our culture, our traditions. This will help us for a more peaceful atmosphere in the future."