Shawnee Mission South celebrates 30 years of teaching Arabic language and culture | KCUR 89.3

Kenneth Palmer

Just about every Friday, just about a dozen students sit in chairs circled all-around their classroom — no desks in sight — at Shawnee Mission South Superior College, looking at a series of Arabic tunes video clips.

At the conclusion of each individual week, every single of the higher school’s Arabic language classes pick a tunes video clip and compete around who chose the finest a person. It’s not how most courses look — or sound — at the finish of the 7 days, but trainer Annie Hasan explained it really is a way to crack down boundaries and get students talking.

“It’s not taught in a really classic Arab way or American way,” Hasan explained. “We sit in a circle and they’re up and shifting, continually talking. We play a good deal of games and there’s a good deal of conversation.”

As the little one of a Palestinian father and an American mom, Hasan said instructing Arabic is a way for her to develop a bridge among the two cultures and enable them realize each individual other greater.

The Arabic program received its start 30 years back as section of the university district’s Center for Global Experiments. The middle was designed in 1991 and additional the Arabic method a year afterwards. Hasan reported the anniversary of the method — which she thinks is the country’s oldest Arabic method in a community higher school — is a little something to celebrate.

“I assume it’s incredible that Overland Park, Kansas, experienced this vision and we are like in the middle of the continental United States,” Hasan stated. “There was this vision in the 90s that ‘Hey, our globe is shrinking. Let us locate a way to give these college students opportunities to assistance them be lively improve.’”

Several students sit in a semi-circle on chairs listening to a teacher who is talking in front of a large dry-erase board in a classroom.

Carlos Moreno


KCUR 89.3

Students in Annie Hasan’s Arabic language class do not have regular desks, they sit in a circle so it really is less complicated to speak with each and every other.

The method commenced correct following the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the Soviet Union collapsed. David Wolfe, the center’s then-principal, claimed it was a time when everyone was speaking about how changes all over the entire world would affect training.

“It seemed like a great time to produce a plan that would let persons to extra quickly connect with every single other,” Wolfe mentioned.

The district started giving lessons on Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian studies, which Wolfe said have been the minimum normally taught languages in the state at the time. In accordance to Hasan, these are languages deemed “critical” by the United States mainly because there aren’t enough speakers to meet up with the needs of nonprofits, corporations or the authorities. Wolfe said he however remembers the factors the program’s first college students took the course.

“One of them was that they fell in appreciate with the attractiveness of the script. And then, of class, there was the economic challenge of oil and petroleum,” Wolfe explained. “Several of them reported they resolved to analyze Arabic mainly because they were being likely to go into the small business entire world and desired to be in a position to converse Arabic. So, you had each ends of an excessive, one from an inventive viewpoint and just one from a small business standpoint.”

The language systems in the Center for Global Experiments were ultimately each individual moved to a different high faculty in the district, with Arabic scientific studies housed at Shawnee Mission South.

A young man uses a marker to write Arabic words on a dry-erase board in a classroom.

Carlos Moreno


KCUR 89.3

Joseph Goodman, a college student in Shawnee-Mission South’s Arabic language class will work on a phrase in class.

The explanations driving Shawnee Mission South pupils to learn Arabic now are not as well diverse from those that began the method 3 a long time back. Hasan reported a wide range of students get her classes, from these who want to understand every single language they can to people who consider it will stand out on their transcript.

That is the circumstance for Will Thiel, a junior who desires to go into international small business. He explained he begun the software due to the fact he assumed it was one of a kind and hadn’t read of another university providing classes on Arabic.

Even now, he explained it was scary to get started understanding a new language.

“When I to start with arrived into Arabic, my 1st day of freshman calendar year, she started out just talking Arabic to us right off the bat and I was like, ‘I may well be in a little bit about my head right now,”’ Thiel mentioned. “But then by the finish of the week I was like ‘Wow, this is so considerably enjoyable and I am actually learning a lot.”

Other learners are adding Arabic to their repertoire of other languages.

Joseph Goodman, a junior, has by now learned English, Russian, German and French – but explained he wanted to have a broader understanding of other languages. He designs to go into linguistics after large college, and reported his favorite portion of course is learning about grammar.

“I don’t believe it is typical, but I definitely like learning about grammatical constructions simply because I imagine which is the backbone of how you discuss and it can be an essential aspect of a language,” Goodman said. “I constantly like getting moments the place I’m like, ‘Oh, which is strange, but it helps make perception.’ And which is a ton of what grammar presents.”

Hasan said she starts class off slow, initially by educating the alphabet and then shifting onto looking at and crafting. Even so, she said a large component of the course revolves about finding out about the society of Arab-speaking countries.

She said a lot of pupils grow their information further than what they are finding out in class, by observing Arab films, exhibits or even operating on calligraphy outside of course.

That is junior Riley Martin’s favorite portion of course. Each and every semester the class does “Passport Projects” that have pupils report on an part of society in an Arabic-speaking country. Martin claimed her most current project was about famous Arab film stars, combining her like of theater with what she’s understanding in class.

Regardless of her approach to go after a vocation in acting, Martin claimed she enjoys understanding languages and has already picked up Chinese and Hebrew.

“I just assume it can be so interesting since when you learn a language, you unlock this possibility to connect with millions of other people today that you wouldn’t have been in a position to as effectively beforehand,” Martin reported.

Martin stated she’s amazed that the class has lasted so very long, because when university districts need downsize, language packages can be one particular the very first on the chopping block. Hasan credits the program’s longevity to aid from an administration that recognizes that “we are living in a lesser world.”

Given that Hasan started instructing the program in 2009, she explained it’s been steadily increasing. When she begun, there have been 26 students in her classes. Now, she teaches all-around 55 learners.

And whilst not all of her college students will carry on to analyze Arabic when they graduate, they will not be leaving vacant-handed.

“They sometimes depart my classroom and they are a lot more industry experts on Arabic language and tradition than it’s possible any individual who has presently graduated higher education,” Hasan explained.

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