Some of Kentucky's brightest students will get the chance to study Arabic at Western Kentucky University this summer through a new grant provided by Qatar Foundation International.
The $33,500 grant will cover tuition and travel expenses for 10 students to enroll in Arabic during the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth through WKU's Center for Gifted Studies this summer.
"Learning another language is always important," said Julia Roberts, executive director of the Center for Gifted Studies, in an interview Friday. "In addition, learning about the culture of other Arabic speaking people is valuable for our young people."
The VAMPY program allows seventh- through 10th-graders to live on campus and spend six hours a day in an academic setting with other gifted students from June 25 to July 15. The program will turn 34 years old this summer, and it's hosted students from across Kentucky, the United States and from 10 other countries, according to the release.
Lhousseine Guerwane, an Arabic instructor with the Department of Modern Languages, teaches the course and said in the release that students learn the language through various projects.
"The class participates in debates, role-plays, discussions, field trips and projects that enhance knowledge of the language," he said. Students also experience Arabic cultures through art, food, cinema, celebrations, traditions and music.
Roberts said priority will be given to students with financial need, including those with lower incomes. Interested students have until March 31 to apply for the scholarship at www.wku.edu/gifted/vampy/vampy-arabic-scholarship.pdf.
"We'll be looking for why the young person wants to study Arabic as well as financial need," Roberts said, describing a strong application.
Roberts said the scholarship will allow the center to host a full class of 16 students in the Arabic course this summer. The program's language courses have paid off for students, she said.
"We find that very often these people will go into medicine or law or some other career with an international focus that I think would probably not have been here without these early experiences," she said.