BSOS International Week showcases Arabic Flagship Program

By Morgan Politzer

BSOS International Week, hosted by the BSOS Dean’s Student Advisory Council, celebrated the international backgrounds and diverse cultures of students on campus and was held from March 26-30.

The week included a variety of events showcasing the international community on campus, including discussions with guest speakers, study abroad information sessions and presentations from various student groups.

The Arabic Flagship Program hosted multiple events throughout the week, including Arabic Music Night. Led by the program’s Music Club, students were introduced to the Egyptian rock band Cairokee and given translated lyrics that allowed them to follow along. The band gained fame during the Egyptian revolution in 2011.

“A lot of their songs talk about Egyptian struggle,” senior criminology and criminal justice and Arabic Studies double major Daniella Medel said. “We’re learning not only the lyrics and the Arabic words and building our vocabulary, but also the historical context and analyzing the lyrics with that historical context.”

The club hosts bi-weekly events and picks a new Arabic-speaking country to highlight each week.

“We choose a different artist each time, and we show music by that artist,” sophomore Arabic Studies and Spanish double major Maya Montgomery said. “We talk about the history of the artist and then we’ll translate some of the lyrics or talk about the meanings of the songs.”

The flagship program is grant-funded as part of the Language Flagship, a national movement intended to change the way Americans learn languages, according to Lianne Berne, the program coordinator for the Arabic Flagship Program.

The program began in the early 2000s as curriculums moved away from textbooks and put more of an emphasis on dialect, cultural references and professional skills to give students the skills they need to succeed in the job market, Berne said.

The domestic component of the program allows students to gain knowledge of the language on campus by taking classes, participating in cultural clubs, and attending professional development workshops.

A large part of the domestic program is its language partners.

“These are native speakers that have one-on-one conversations with our students every week, and that’s a really great way for them to work on their conversational skills and their dialect and get some of that vocab that they don’t get in class,” she said.

The program then culminates with a capstone year, where students spend one full year overseas in Morocco, where they are fully immersed in the culture by living with a host family, taking classes and completing an internship.

“The goal is that when they come out of the other side of that capstone year, they have what we call a ‘professional working proficiency,’ which basically means they could go work in an Arabic speaking environment, in the Middle East, and feel totally comfortable with not only the languages but also in terms of the culture’s cues, knowledge, background and professional skills they would need,” Berne said.

Students from across campus are welcome to participate in the program and are not required to be in the Arabic major. Berne said through the advertising for BSOS International Week, students heard about and then came to these open club events and learn about the flagship program.

“This was my first time coming to the club,” junior government and politics major Joanna Wolfgram said. “I’ve heard good things about it, and I think music is a good way to gain experience in a language and learn new vocabulary.”


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