Loki Chairez Details Their Arabic Journey After Receiving An Incoming Freshman Award

Image of Loki Chairez, recipient of Incoming Freshman Award

Author

Loki Chairez

Date

02/26/2021

Chapter

Los Angeles Arabic Honor Society

           Loki was selected for an AHS Incoming Freshman Award to continue studying Arabic at Dartmouth College. Loki was an active member of the LA Chapter for 2.5 years while studying Arabic at Bell High School. Continue reading below to hear about Loki’s experience.


           My journey of studying Arabic started in my freshman year of high school and has continued well into my freshman year of college. It is astonishing to realize that my studies amount to almost five years! With each passing lesson, I find my passion for the subject growing more and more.

            I was fortunate from the very beginning because my school had our own chapter of the Arabic Honor Society. Because of this, it surrounded me with other students who shared the same passion. I was a part of several cultural based festivities and projects, which provided me with a more organic experience with the language. One notable project that I had begun to work on is an Arab convenience store that was built in my former high school. We were going to sell bracelets, school supplies, and Arab snacks. Additionally, the exterior was going to feature Arabic calligraphy. Although, our plans were postponed, and I graduated without seeing the store come to life. However, I do plan to return to help this plan fully blossom. I know it will be a great addition to campus. It will be perfect for other students to try something new.

         With this motivation in mind, I felt obligated to do my part in using language to connect to those around me. My first term of college would not be complete without an Arabic language course. My first year of college did not start the way I initially expected. I was unable to meet most of my peers in person. This was a stark contrast to my previous experiences in which I was able to discuss lessons and experiences with my classmates. Regardless, I sought to make the most of my experience. Outside of class, there were other resources and means of, once again, meeting others who also enjoyed learning Arabic. Both last term and this current term, there is an “Arabic Cafe,” an online meeting that focuses on a variety of topics including but not limited to media (movies, shows, music) from Arabic speaking countries, current events taking place around the globe, Arabic folklore, etc. Recently added are seminars held in the Middle Eastern studies department, a place where I can delve into topics that have not been discussed in any of my classes. Something that a former teacher of mine used to emphasize is that learning does not only take place in the classroom. These are prime opportunities that allow me to not only practice what I know, but also learn more about what I do not.

            My college experience is far from over and learning Arabic on a college level has only just begun. With circumstances permitting, I intend to study abroad. My school currently offers two programs associated with the Middle Eastern studies and Arabic language department. One study opportunity is based in Kuwait and the other is based in Morocco. Although I was fortunate enough to have gone to Morocco, one trip is not sufficient to experience all that the country has to offer. In time, I will be able to visit once again. With the scholarship awarded to me by the Arabic Honor Society, I plan to fund my trip or cover any additional cost that may arise while pursuing my studies.

            I was never required to study a language for my entire high school career, but it brought me a kind of fascination and appreciation that I cannot quite put into words. It was quite the experience to learn about the world around me, a world that may not have been introduced to me otherwise. I plan to major in linguistics, which compliments my love for learning languages perfectly. Learning languages is not a one-dimensional field of study. While learning Arabic, I learn more and more about the history associated with it and how it impacts the events of today- such as the Arabic language’s influence in English and Spanish. Each person and language tells a story, stories that I want to hear. Such stories can only be heard by connecting individuals to one another, which are brought on through understanding one another through language.

            I will never stop wanting to know more, and I know this award will help fuel my journey.

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