STUDENTS | April 9, 2019
This spring break, nine students from Lindblom Math and Science Academy’s Arabic World Language program will say goodbye to American soil and travel to Morocco. For 10 days, students will explore five cities, live with local families, and apply what they’ve learned from their studies in the real world.
They leave Wednesday night and return April 21. During that time they will visit cities like Casablanca and Marrakesh.
Laila Morris, a freshman at Lindblom, said she’s never traveled outside of the United States, but she hopes this trip will treat her to the experience of a lifetime.
“I feel like when we’re learning new things, there’s often a barrier between what we’re learning in school and the outside world,” said Morris. “I feel like this trip is going to be a way to break down that barrier and will be a way for us to apply what we’re learning and see the world differently.”
Their Arabic language teacher, Fadi Abughoush, said his goal has always been to redefine how his students see the world. When the opportunity to travel with his students to another country came his way, he said knew he’d have to take the chance and apply.
“Qatar Foundation International [QFI] announced that, for their 10 year anniversary, they were accepting applications for a grant up to $30,000 to travel overseas,” Abughoush said. “I talked with my fellow teachers and we put the application together. It took time, it was very detailed.”
QFI, an organization that supports schools to inspire meaningful connections with the Arab world, invited educators to apply for the School Travel Awards for Global Exchange, or STAGE.
To qualify, instructors, along with a detailed application, would have to form a virtual online classroom with another country to further enhance students’ learning capabilities.
Brittany Kam, another one of Lindblom’s Arabic language instructors, said out of the school’s 360 students in its Arabic World Language program, nine qualified to go on the trip.
Students were chosen based on their proficiency and comfortability with the language, she said.
“One thing that was really important for us when it came to choosing students was making sure that they used Arabic all of the time and that they were able to use it in class,” said Kam. “The students chosen showed that they were very dedicated to speaking Arabic and studying Arabic countries.”
The Lindblom class partnered with a class in Casablanca as part of the virtual exchange. Students have been able to communicate with one another through video chats to learn more about their cultural differences and, most importantly, their similarities, said Ghina Jammal, also an Arabic language instructor at the school.
“They may be from different countries, but they are all teens and exactly the same,” she said. “They listen to the same music, eat the same food.”
Jace Guy, a junior, said she’s excited to finally meet the students she’s met virtually in person.
“We see them on the video screen, but in person, we’ll be able to connect more and learn about each other’s culture,” said Guy. “I think it’s going to be really cool.”
For other students, like Sofuan Nasser, a sophomore, homestay is the most thrilling part of the trip. He and his classmates will be split into small groups or pairs and will stay with local families to be fully immersed in the culture.
“In a hotel, you only talk to your peers in English,” said Nasser. “Since we’ll be in a homestay, we’ll be kind of forced to speak Arabic because their English is limited.”
They will leave Chicago on Wednesday.
Morris said she’s excited. If given the chance, she said every student should take advantage of any opportunity to travel to another country.
“I really want to emphasize that this a very rare opportunity that not a lot of people have,” said Morris. “If you’re given the chance to travel abroad and you’re nervous about it, still go for it. Think to yourself, ‘If I don’t do this, will I regret it?’”
Watch Abughoush, Kam and students say how excited they are to visit Morocco in Arabic!