By: Erika Cox
Five IPED students spent the summer of 2017 learning French. Our resident Arrupe Fellows, Owen Fitzgerald and Therese “Tess” Hart, as well as Language Immersion Study Award (LISA) recipients Erika Cox, Margaret “Maggie” Hutchison and Sydney Kornegay attended Alliance Française to partake in a summer long language and cultural immersion.
Aside from offering 3 ½ hour, Monday through Friday intensive courses, Alliance Française provides various cultural and leisure activities to complete the immersion experience. Class sizes are small and the instructors are engaging, great at answering questions and conscious about allowing students to practice their speaking and listening skills. Students also take advantage of home stay services with a French family, ensuring immersion continues at home. To top it off, not only does Alliance Française have schools throughout France, but all over the world, so students can continue their studies regardless of geographic location.
When asked of her experience in Montpellier, Maggie Hutchison said, “There is a lot going on every day with festivals, night life, beaches and hiking opportunities nearby, shopping and many young people.” Yet, all this fun must be navigated in French, “because even the simplest of things like grocery shopping or traveling force you to practice your French skills.”
The cultural and language immersion is also a great way to network with international development professionals and maybe even catch up with old friends. France is incredibly diverse and opportunities abound to interact with people from all over the world. Arrupe Fellow Owen Fitzgerald, who served in Peace Corps Mali and has been playing the drums most of his life, even got to have a reunion concert with his band from Ghana. Miraculously, almost all of the band members happened to be in France for Bastille Day, a national holiday in France.
So, take the plunge and consider learning French with IPED. The summer immersion experience with Alliance Française offers a wealth of learning experiences for all levels. The courses are intensive and the opportunities for immersion are boundless. And while learning a new language isn’t always easy, the group always made sure to have fun while they were at it.
By: Angeli Diamante
Angeli with Cristo de la Concordia. This statue is taller than the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil!
I was awarded a Language Immersion Study Award (LISA) fellowship to study Spanish in Bolivia. With Spanish being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, learning this language will be an asset in my future career. Living in Cochabamba, Bolivia was different from life in New York City. Life moved at a slower and relaxed pace. And the food was wonderful – I definitely recommend eating their salteñas.
Angeli with the guide in Pico Tunari.
Choosing the Maryknoll language learning program was a great choice. The personalized instruction from the professors helped me become better in my weak areas. It was not only language they imparted. Every week we had an hour-long conference where we learned more about the culture and the state of Bolivia. We also had cultural trips which made me appreciate the country beyond its language and tourist spots.
I had the wonderful opportunity to stay with a very hospitable host family who took great care of me during the entire 6 weeks in Cochabamba. Being surrounded by non-English speakers definitely forced me to improve my communication skills in Spanish.
Angeli with her host family.
LISA is a great opportunity and I urge students to apply for it if they can. Not only do you learn a new language, you experience a different culture as well.
By: Sarah Garwood
A bit of respite at the fifteen hundred year old Mar Saba monastery nestled in the Judean desert.
The Fordham University International Political Economy and Development (IPED) program has graciously provided me with funding to further my studies in Arabic language via the Language Immersion Studies Awards (LISA). Having already been acquainted with the fundamentals of the Arabic language between my studies at Fordham as an undergraduate and my study abroad experience in Jordan, I was thrilled to take this opportunity to enhance my linguistic ability in pursuit of professional proficiency. I firmly believe that there is no better way to truly master a language than immersion, forcing yourself to converse in your non-native tongue on a daily basis. In a few weeks, here I have made enormous leaps and bounds in my language ability.
A scenic view of the plains of Northern Israel from the El-Muhraqa Monastery in the heights of Mount Carmel.
I have chosen to do my immersion in two different locations, the West Bank city of Bethlehem and the Druze village of Daliyat El Karmel. For my first month of intensive language learning, I studied at Bethlehem University, spending most of the day in the classroom during week and utilizing my lessons extensively on weekend excursions to nearby cities in the Palestinian Territories. Bethlehem University is a renowned institution with a strong Arabic language department under the auspices of Dr. Moin Halloun, a specialist in Palestinian Arabic. For my second month of language immersion, I embedded myself within a Druze village on Mount Carmel. Living here for a month has provided me with a unique insight into Druze society and familiarized me with the dialectal idiosyncrasies of the Syrian Arabic which is spoken here. Living in a host family setting here where Arabic is exclusively spoken ensures that my learning continues outside the classroom. In-country language learning is particularly important for Arabic as it is a language with regional dialects that differ substantially from the formal Modern Standard Arabic used in professional settings and the media. Consequently, students outside the Arab world can spend years studying a language in their home countries only to find their Arabic nearly useless for conversational purposes on the ground. There are major differences in letter pronunciation, vocabulary, verbs, sentence structure, and grammar that one cannot adjust to without immersion. Immersion has allowed me to hone my speaking and listening skills in practical settings and for realistic purposes.
The campus of Bethlehem University, a former De La Salle Christian Brother’s school turned first West Bank university at the behest of John Paul II’s recognition of the need for higher education in the Palestinian Territories.
Focusing on practical skills such as language learning has become increasingly more important in a world where the global migration level, and consequently cross-cultural contact, is at its highest in decades. The IPED program’s holistic approach to educating development professionals empowers them to handle complex challenges with pragmatic solutions. A key component of these solutions involves communication and linguistic competency. I strongly encourage future IPED students to take on the task, albeit tremendously challenging, of learning another language for professional purposes. Doing so will undoubtedly compliment the other practical skills that the IPED program stands to offer.
On March 23rd, many members of the IPED family got together to meet, catch up, and chat for the IPED Alumni night. IPED alumni were asked to speak about their experiences working in the non-profit, government, and private sectors and gave advice for current and recent IPEDers starting their careers. Following the alumnae panel, current students were presented with their study and internship awards. Congratulations to all of you!
IPED career panel comprised of IPED alumae.
The 2017 Language and Immersion Study Award (LISA) recipients with Dr. Crystal. They will be studying French, Spanish, and Arabic around the world this summer.
This year’s Public Service Fellows awardees. Luther Flagstad (right) will be going to Kazakhstan to work at the US Embassy and Robyn Emory (left) will be going to Xi’an, China to pursue language study in Mandarin Chinese.
This year’s Arrupe Fellows with Dr. Crystal. Owen Fitzgerald (left) will be going to France for language immersion and pursuing work with the UNDP. Tess Hart (right) will also be pursuing French immersion and going to Micronesia to perform research.
The audience listening to the panel.
Current IPEDers, (left to right) Carlos Baeta, Liya Khalikova, Samantha Kinney, and Maggie Hutchison
IPED class of 2017 (the most recent group of alumni)
Dr. Schwalbenberg with some of his former students
IPEDers, current and past
The IPED family laughing with Dr. Crystal as he gives the closing comments.
I studied Arabic for a period of 6 weeks at the Arab Academy in downtown Cairo. Arab Academy offers courses in both colloquial and classical Arabic. Having lived in Egypt before and having an acceptable grasp of colloquial Arabic, I chose to study the classical form of the language.
David at the Arab Academy
Arab Academy is an exceptional institution. I will 100 percent recommend it to anyone looking to learn the language. Classes aren’t group sessions. Every student has their own tutor which allows you to learn at your own pace and ask as many questions as you want. My classes typically started between 12pm and ended 3pm. The first hour was spent practicing basic responses to common questions while the other two were spent mastering the alphabets, forming words with them and eventually whole sentences. The teachers were very patient and understanding.
Can’t make it to class for some reason? No problem, Arab academy offers classes online as well. They organize online sessions for students unable to be physically present in class for whatever reason. Students are also given access to their online resources and can self-study at their own pace and complete assignments online as well.
Arab Academy is also very diverse. Students come from just about everywhere…the US, Chile, Europe, everywhere.
Jumping for joy about Arabic!
Unfortunately, I did not do much travelling while in Egypt partly because, well, I had been to most places prior to this trip (completed my undergrad degree in Egypt). I did get to reconnect with old friends though and visit places I didn’t get to visit while I was an undergrad such as the Cairo Tower from which you can observe all of downtown Cairo and many parts of the city west and east of the Nile River. I also visited the “Time Square” of Cairo aka “where every Cairo resident avoids” aka “Oldest tourist trap of the Middle East”- The pyramids. It was fun though don’t get me wrong.
David at Giza
Being that it was Ramadan, I was able to share in the breaking of fast (Iftar) with friends after 6pm everyday during the period which made the experience all the more interesting. I thank IPED for giving me this unforgettable opportunity in Cairo!