Xander Christou Speaks About Studying Arabic A Constantly Thought-Provoking and Curiosity-Driven Exploration into The Unknown
Xander was an active member of the Austin High Chapter for almost two years. Xander has been studying Arabic at NYU this past semester and updates us on his journey below.
There are certain moments in your life that seem too crazy to be true: moments that mesh and mold together to create an extraordinary outcome. When I walked into Arabic class on my first day of high school, I had no idea that in five years I would be speaking Arabic daily with friends and studying in Abu Dhabi.
My experience studying Arabic in high school was a constantly thought-provoking and curiosity-driven exploration into the unknown. Every time I walked into class, I learned something new; one day it was Fairuz’s Habeytak bel Sayf, and the next it was a grammatical intricacy. My teacher was a driving force behind my curiosity—her enthusiasm about Arabic was contagious. I would chat with her in the mornings and learn new words here and there, which I later realized helped my Arabic immensely. I created some of my best high school memories in Arabic Honor Society. Once a month when the school bell rang for the day, we ran to the Arabic classroom bringing our homemade dishes with us. We shared kanafeh, baklava, tea and more as we listened to Arabic music and discussed new topics.
QFI STAGE grant opportunity
The most memorable time of my high school Arabic experience was our summer trip to Jordan. My friend and I spent countless hours researching and planning in an attempt to bring our Arabic class to Jordan with the QFI STAGE grant. When it actually happened, it was surreal. We got to speak Arabic in the country we’d learned so much about, and the classroom was brought to life. From bartering in the souqs, to hiking through wadis, digging into a pile of mansaf, to sleeping in the desert, my first time in the Arab world was one I will never forget. However, my favorite moment of the trip had to be when my Arabic language skills were put to the test. In Madaba, I was invited to have tea with a museum curator who didn’t speak English. I was apprehensive at first, but this was the perfect opportunity I needed to converse in Arabic. Fifteen minutes later, after a conversation ranging from politics to tourism, I walked away with a grin on my face. Being able to understand and communicate with this man was extremely valuable to me, in that it gave me confidence in my Arabic speaking abilities.
Future with Arabic language
After the trip to Jordan, it was time to start thinking about colleges. I made sure that all the schools I was applying to had Arabic programs, so I would be able to continue my studies. I have a lot to learn, but that is what I enjoy the most about Arabic; there is seemingly no end to the learning process, and every piece of knowledge you learn along the way fits into this puzzle that is larger than life. In the future I have a feeling that Arabic will be put to use no matter what job I do. I could see myself in publishing, in international relations, the travel industry...I am looking forward to seeing where my life takes me, and I know Arabic will be integral to my future.