Arabic instructor Eric Nigh, who worked previously in Iraq for 12 years, along with Sana Kika, an Iraqi Fulbright graduate student who's teaching first-year Arabic, are extremely excited about the direction of the Arabic program.
There are approximately 30 students enrolled in the Arabic program and at least 100 Arabic speaking international students attending UW. These students form a sizable base for a forum that could bring everyone together for the greater benefit of both communities. The trick is finding a way to bring these students together, which has recently culminated in the decision to register as an official RSO.
In the past, under Professor Ali Raddoui, Arabic students met at informal gatherings in order to meet other students. With the absence of Professor Raddoui over the last year, the availability and focus needed to make these gatherings happen was not present.
This year, steam is picking up for the Arabic program and the need for English and Arabic speaking students to have a community in order to learn from each other is being addressed. Hence, Nigh and Kika have pledged full support for the task of formally starting up the ALMECC.
"Through this collective group, the club is expected to create a social forum that helps English-speaking students to meet international Arabic-speaking students and vice versa," Nigh said.
Aaron Martinson, an Anthropology major and first-year Arabic student, is excited about the opportunities that will be made available through ALMECC.
"I hope to gain a fluency in the language and also a firm grip on Middle Eastern culture with respect to common customs and societal norms."
The overall mission of ALMECC is to provide more than just a place for students to meet in order to practice their Arabic language skills. The key to success for the club, at the student level, involves the relational aspect that is gained through the community of students coming together to participate in culturally oriented activities.
"We're aiming to promote cultural and linguistic awareness of Middle Eastern countries," Kika said. "It's only through interacting with native speakers, that the English-speaking students can truly immerse themselves in cultural norms, short of studying abroad."
"Additionally, through this interaction, students can gain access to find avenues for jobs, internships, and study abroad opportunities," Nigh said. "It is important to have support when undertaking any new language, but more so with Arabic, in order to understand social customs."
On the flip side, there are many students on campus who come from Arabic-speaking countries that could benefit from a chance to expand and deepen relationships with American students.
UW PhD student, Fatima Al-Asadi, mentioned that ALMECC "provides an excellent opportunity for Arabic-speaking students to express their view and celebrate their identity within the UWyo student body, increasing their participation in the broader community here in the US."
The club intends to bring globally-acclaimed, well-known Arabic media personalities and important figures to give talks to the students so they can benefit from learning through fun interactions with famous, native Arabic speakers.
The first organizational meeting was held this past Wednesday at the Cheney International Student Center.
"We really need international Arabic-speaking students, but anyone interested in any capacity is welcome, اهلاً وسهلاً," Nigh said.