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Qatar Foundation International awards UNG grant

2018-03-07-Arabic-SLI
For the past 10 years, UNG has been conducting Summer Language Institute programs in languages such as Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Arabic. In February, the Qatar Foundation International LLC (QFI) awarded a grant to UNG for its Arabic SLI program. The $39,000 grant will provide scholarships to 10 dual-enrolled or joint-enrolled students to attend the six-week summer program on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

For the past three years, Awad Awad has looked forward to cooking traditional Arabic cuisine for his Summer Language Institute (SLI) students at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

"I love to cook, so there is always food projects involved," said Awad, lecturer of modern and classical languages at UNG. "It's part and parcel of the holistic approach we employ in teaching language, culture, and intercultural communication."

This summer he may share those same cross-cultural experiences and language with about 10 high school students, who, thanks to a recently awarded grant, might not have been able to attend SLI before.

In February, the Qatar Foundation International LLC (QFI) awarded a grant to UNG for its Arabic SLI program. The $39,000 grant will provide scholarships to 10 dual-enrolled or joint-enrolled students to attend the six-week summer program on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. Last year, QFI only awarded the grant to five institutions. UNG joins those rankings this year, Awad said.

"This is a win all the way around for them and for us," said Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at UNG. "We will get students who are college bound onto campus and expose them to our language program. And the students jumpstart their college careers by earning eight credit hours and being at a more advanced level in language when they enroll."

Jespersen hopes once students get a taste of UNG's language programs and are introduced to the study abroad opportunities in Morocco, Oman and Jordan, they will chose to continue their education at UNG. Awad hopes it will increase the number of students studying Arabic.

"I love to cook, so there is always food projects involved," said Awad, lecturer of modern and classical languages at UNG. "It's part and parcel of the holistic approach we employ in teaching language, culture, and intercultural communication."

Jespersen said a lot of career opportunities are available for graduates who speak another language, especially Arabic.

"It's important, given the recent world history and the U.S. involvement in the Middle East and Mediterranean," he said. "But more than the military side … there are significant changes in Arabic-speaking regions. It comes in the form of new governments that have yet to stabilize, but things are starting to turn around."

For the past 10 years, UNG has been conducting SLI programs in languages such as Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Arabic. In 2018, Japanese was added to the list.

Daniela Martinez, director of sponsored programs language at UNG, explained during the SLI program students are grouped in 16-member cohorts that take classes and tutoring sessions together. They also room on the same floor of residence halls on the Dahlonega Campus and go on a field trip together.

Awad said the Arabic students usually visit the Alif Institute in Atlanta. Its mission is to foster understanding and appreciation of Arab culture and the Arab-American community.

"We also go shopping at international food markets and to an Arabic restaurant or bakery," he said.Awad pointed out last year the program worked closely with UNG’s Center for Language Education (CLE) to connect his students with 23 Palestinian students on campus.

"The (Palestinian students) did a language and cultural exchange with the UNG students," he said, indicating the program gives high school students a small snippet of the culture in the Arab world.

"Most of all it is transformative and rewarding," he said.

Students interested in the SLI program and scholarship should:

Once accepted, students will be required to complete a statement of purpose expressing financial need and their personal interest in Arabic.

Graduating seniors will not be eligible for the scholarship, but would still be eligible to attend SLI if successfully admitted to UNG.

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