What good is a life changing experience if one is not willing to use it to better one’s home community or campus? Knowledge can be both acquired and applied.
It has been a little over a month and a half since I returned from my trip abroad in Jordan. At this point, I think I am done readjusting myself to my campus life and catching up with old friends. As I begin the new school year, I frequently take the time to look back to past events and experiences and see what I can learn from them. This is my third year in college, and this time I have the pleasures of a study abroad experience under my belt to look back to. I have professors and friends eager to learn about what I learned and what I did while in Amman. For me, I am eager to apply the knowledge I acquired overseas and the experiences I had to my campus environment.
There are a number of ways I could have chosen to give back to my college. I chose a multifaceted approach, consisting of spending a set amount of time each week providing tutoring services to the Arabic students. The Arabic department at my college is relatively minuscule compared to those at other institutions. For that reason, I felt it necessary to make use of the proficiency in language I developed abroad by helping those who are either beginning their cultural linguistic journey or continuing in their studies. Some of these community members may become diplomats in the UN in the future, or scientists working to translate journal articles into Arabic, or interpreters working for non-profits. While I cannot tell the future for these pupils, I know what is in my capabilities as a language-learning assistant.
Another way in which I am applying my experiences to my campus environment involves Tanwiir, the local Middle East and North Africa student interest group on campus. This student organization plans events where academics come to talk about a variety of issues relating to the Arab World. Past speakers have discussed gender identities, the Arab Spring, and the economics of oil. The organization is currently planning a booth at an upcoming cultural festival where different student groups showcase what their groups are about. Representatives from our organization will show off the beauty of Arabic calligraphy by writing people’s names on their hands. It will be an honor working with them this year and sharing what I learned from my experiences with organizational members. I definitely intend on assisting with event planning and in-class promotional events relating to the Arab World. A leadership position in Tanwiir is definitely a way to raise awareness about issues in the Arab world, many of which I had first hand experience encountering in Jordan. These experiences will contribute to a healthy membership.