Last year, Josh Pawlik found and renovated the Arabic Language and Culture Club (ALCC), formerly called the Society of Ibn Haldun, with a mission to preserve and nurture the endangered area of study at UAB.
Arabic classes are in danger of extinction at UAB despite the large Arabic-speaking community, but the ALCC is fighting to reverse this process with a common goal: to educate students about Arabic culture and language—an undertaking that frequently debunks myths and negative connotations popularized by media.
"A lot of people think that all Muslims are Arab and that all Arabs are Muslim. This is not always the case," says Pawlik, President of the ALCC.
The ALCC is open to all UAB students, regardless of their ability to speak Arabic or knowledge of the customs. The student organization holds lectures, movie nights, and educational forums.
"We show movies in Arabic, if possible with English subtitles. Last year we watched Terrorism and Kabobs, a film that pokes fun at misconceptions," says Pawlik.
On April 27, the Arabic Language and Culture Club will host Arabic Day with a model Souq, an open-aired market. The event will feature first-hand accounts of Arabic culture, Debka dances, food, vendors, and more.
"We hope to invite other organizations to co-sponsor the event with us," says Pawlik.
The ALCC is eager to fundraise for the organization so UAB students have the option of taking different levels of Arabic. Currently, the classes are financially endangered.
Professor Wasan Manati teaches Arabic and is currently employed as a part-time professor for the university, but the ALCC is hoping for her to become part of the full-time staff.
"We'd really like to raise money to fund Arabic here on campus. We want to be able to offer every level of Arabic, and with funding, we can pay professors to teach these classes," says Pawlik.
Presently, there is no state school in Alabama that offers an Arabic minor. The ALCC believes an Arabic minor would bring about positive change at the university.
Arabic is one of the world's oldest languages. It is the 5th most spoken language in the world, ahead of French, German, and Japanese—languages that are offered as minors at UAB.