Academic Update

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The semester is finally winding down!

I have made it through my Arabic course, and most of Psychology of Peace. Taking these course have been challenging in different ways.

Psychology of Peace

Writing papers has always been an stressful experience for me. However, the process is one that I have become familiar with and has become bearable. I have never struggled so much on a paper, that I have received a low grade but I guess there is a first time for everything. I received my first grade back for a paper I wrote and it was lower than anything I have ever received in my entire college career. (Imagine whatever you will with that, but let me just add that I cried).

I only received the paper back 24 hours before my next one (my final paper for the semester) was due. I was STRESSED. The shortage of time limited my ability to talk to my professor about it so I could restructure accordingly for my next paper. I delayed turning in my final paper, because this induced another level of stress for it to be perfect.

I consulted a few other students, called my mom and breathed, then came to the conclusion. I would discuss what was wrong with my previous paper with my professor, and focus on making sure my paper was comprehensive and clear for the final paper. The solution seems so simple right? Isn’t this something that I would just do at VWU? Like I said, I’ve never gotten a grade this low before to have to do this, so my first instinct was to freak out. But in time, I relaxed and began to resolve the issue.

It took a few days for me to get in contact with my professor due to health complications on his end, but when I finally did he agreed to reevaluate my paper. I completed my final paper and explained to him the stress that caused a delay in the completion of my final paper. He was okay with it and understood.

This experience was a key component in my the professional development: communication. 

When things don’t seem to be going well, it is easy for me to simply be silent and struggle. I figure I will get it together eventually, but handling issues this way doesn’t help me grow. I shy away from speaking to my professor due to this default reaction, but I realized that my writing style and the language barrier could have very well influenced my grade. I considered sending an email, but if my writing style was the problem before sending an email may not help. Instead, I requested a meeting, and that is how my problem was resolved.

This lesson on communication brings me to a larger and more difficult end of the semester lesson while in Jordan: learning Arabic.

Arabic Final

I’m not quite sure what happened, but one day I came to class and suddenly everything clicked. I could be that I was sleeping better, I was eating breakfast, I’m not sure. When I attending my morning Arabic class, suddenly things weren’t as difficult and I understood what was going on. Beforehand, being in class for three hours would literally give me a headache. I was certain I would never be able to read.

Though I am able to understand and my reading skills have come a long way, my speaking is still struggling.

The first part of my final exam in beginners Arabic was for me to do a creative presentation for maximum 10 minutes in complete Arabic. I was bogged down with my paper and missed the bullet on the creative piece but I did present on my family in Arabic. Below is the script discussing my family in Arabic.

“Hello, my name is Selena. I am from America, in Connecticut in the city of East Hartford. I study at Virginia Wesleyan University. At Virginia Wesleyan University, I study International Politics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Economics. I am 21 years old. I have three brothers, and five sisters. Their names are Vijae, Chris, Demetri, Kimora, Kayla, Keisha, and Ty. My mother and father live in America. My father works in construction and my mother works as a banker. I love my family.”

I was graded based on content, since the entire script was written by me in Arabic, (with the help of my Arabic dictionary, and a student in a higher level of Arabic.) The presentation was done in front of three other Arabic professors and other Arabic students of various levels. After which we received feedback from the professors in Arabic and English. Though my pronunciation was good, responding during conversation has become difficult.

Another part of my exam was creating a story in Arabic based on names provided in Arabic, and  with only a few minutes of preparation. I immediately became stressed but in the time that I was able to pull together a story and have a revelation.

Communication for me at least is difficult in English, I shouldn’t expect any different in another language. It isn’t a matter of pronunciation, but instead speaking up period. Though the excitement behind learning other languages is tied to my desire to communicate with others without language as a barrier, communication is generally a struggle for me.

Now that I have noticed this, I hope to take the rest of my semester to challenge myself to grow and speak up.