By Younnes Alim
By Younnes Alim
Rabat- Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTA) is a scholarship program sponsored by the USA, engaging more than 300 English teachers around the world. I had the chance to be part of this beneficial program. In fact, I was lucky to get involved in a professional teaching setting. The program allows its participants to teach their mother tongue to American university students. In my case, I was assigned to teach Arabic at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. It was a great experience which had an immensely positive impact on my teaching career. Before beginning our classroom assignments there, we went through a series of orientation sessions in Morocco, Turkey and finally in the States.
When our orientation was complete and we were all well equipped with teaching tools and strategies, we started our duties full to the brim with enthusiasm and strength. For us it was not only a teaching post, but also a national duty and thus a point of pride. We had been appointed as teachers and, therefore, cultural ambassadors. I was going to be representing my culture to American students and, because for some of them this would be their first time meeting an Arab Muslim North African teacher, my job was just a little bit more challenging. Ultimately, however, it was successful and for many reasons. For example, the educational setting at the university was very suitable. I had all a wealth of teaching materials at my disposal such as textbooks, multimedia room, rich libraries and above all, the a powerful desire and will of my students to learn Arabic. Thankfully, because of all of this, my job was made easier and very comfortable.
All things considered, this experience was rich and fruitful. On several occasions, I had the opportunity to deliver presentations and lectures about Morocco and I was privileged to take part of many language teaching and cultural workshops. There were times when I was the only Muslim in an interfaith association and I was called upon to answer many questions about Islam, as well as explain and correct some misunderstandings and stereotypes about my religion. I received many questions about my culture on a daily basis through e-mails, phone calls and even face to face dialogues. This helped me to create a strong relationship with faculty staff, students and even my neighbors.
Concerning my relationship with my students, I would describe it as strong, friendly and professional. I was able to gain their trust and make them feel comfortable in the classroom. They felt comfortable using all parts of the syllabus and, from time to time, we had classes outside the classroom on university grounds, as illustrated in the picture below. (picture taken by the admin of the University Facebook page)
In closing, the reason behind sharing my story as An Arabic teacher in the USA is to illustrate that teaching has no boundaries or nationality. Teaching in another part of your home country or internationally is a great opportunity, one to be seized and not missed. It is a way of expressing our points of view and showing our cultural diversity to others. I would like to offer my special thanks to all of those who made my experience such a happy success and to your Morocco World News for making my experience a shared one.