School is out, but Military and Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis students are still engaged in learning. During the school’s Arabic summer camp, from June 18-21, students were immersed in Middle Eastern culture, language and activities. The camp held a final event on, June 21, with a re-enactment of a Middle Eastern traditional wedding ceremony. This is the school’s first Arabic summer camp.
The school received a nearly $600,000 federal grant in 2009 to develop the Arabic language and cultural program. The program has been in place for three years. The grant will end on June 30, but the school plans to continue offering and supporting the Arabic program. When the program began, less than 50 students were enrolled and now, the school has approximately 400 students who study Arabic.
“We want to graduate students who can embrace the world. We want them to be three-dimensional thinkers and conquer global issues,” said assistant principal Ann Laszewski.
Marie G. Davis students, who have studied Arabic at the school, had an opportunity to take part in the four-day summer camp. The camp takes classroom learning a step further with music, art and physical education classes – all inspired by the Middle Eastern world. During the camp, three of the school’s Middle Eastern teachers assisted in language courses as well as other fun choices. The students also dined on Middle Eastern foods, provided by Casablanca Café.
“There are 22 countries that speak Arabic in the Middle East and North Africa, that’s more than 300 million people who speak the language,” said teacher Aida Rached, who taught middle school Arabic. “It is a big challenge for them because 85 to 90 percent of the class is spoken in Arabic, but usually I only have to speak one word in English.
“These students will have new job opportunities available to them, because of their skills.”
Rising eighth-grader Wendy Yang has taken Arabic for two years. This will be the student’s third language she has learned. Aside from English, Wendy also speaks fluent Hmong.
“The Arabic language is complicated, but I like to learn new things,” Wendy said. “I have an interest in learning about the Middle Eastern religion and learning how to communicate with other people.”
Karla Zopiyaxtle Gonzalez, a rising ninth-grader, echoed similar sentiments. She said, “It is a very unique language, but a lot of people speak it. One letter can be written in four different ways.”
“Camp is an addition to what we’ve learned in school, but much more fun. It doesn’t feel like school here.”
During the 2012-2013 school year Marie G. Davis will begin North Carolina’s first Middle Eastern Social Studies curriculum.