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Students embrace Arabic in new International Learning Community (May 1, 2008)

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Students embrace Arabic in new International Learning Community (May 1, 2008) Students embrace Arabic in new International Learning Community May 1, 2008 Arabic script runs along the dormitory hall of the third floor in Adams Hall. To an outsider it looks like an intricate design flowing among the plaster, but to the residents it provides direction and introductions to their fellow floormates. This is Baytunaa, the Arabic floor in the International Learning Community (ILC). Baytunaa, meaning “our
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  Cristina Treviño-Murphy reads from a selection of Arabic text duringprofessor Dustin Cowell’s class session as part of the InternationalLearning Community (ILC) Arabic floor study program in Adams Hall.Photo:Bryce Richter Students embrace Arabic in new International LearningCommunity  May 1, 2008 Arabic script runs along the dormitory hall of the third floor in Adams Hall. To an outsider itlooks like an intricate design flowing among the plaster, but to the residents it providesdirection and introductions to their fellow floormates.This is Baytunaa, the Arabic floor intheInternational LearningCommunity(ILC). Baytunaa, meaning“our home,” houses fiveundergraduate students dedicated tospeaking Arabic and learning aboutthe di f  erent Arabic-speakingcountries and cultures.Baytunaa really does feel like a cozylittle home. Students receive specialArabic instruction outside of theirdaily classes while sitting inoverstu f  ed comfy chairs in front of the fireplace.Sadam Issa, a Jordan native is thelanguage floor coordinator.“I have students of all levels learning and practicing standard Arabic, the Arabic used inmodern journalism, legal systems and other formalities in Arabic-speaking countries,” saysIssa. “It’s the language people use when speaking to someone of another Arabic dialect.”Residents of Baytunaa meet with Issa three times a week to watch movies, play games andconverse in Arabic. These meetings enhance speaking and writing skills while providingcultural knowledge of the Arabic world. This is all part of a one-credit Integrated LiberalStudies course all ILC students are required to take. It provides heightened cross-culturalunderstanding.“ILC is one of the many ways in which UW–Madison prepares its students for an increasinglyinterdependent world,” says Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies. Students embrace Arabic in new International Learning Community (May 1, 2008)1 of 2  Student Michael Goldstein studies inhis residence hall room in AdamsHall. The Arabic floor programfocuses on teaching students theArabic language through animmersive learning environment thatincludes not only Arabic-basedclasses, but also a living environmentdesigned to surround the studentswith Arabic in their everyday lives.Photo:Bryce Richter “It’s global competence training at its best.”“I feel motivated to speak and learn more Arabic living here in Baytunaa,” says CristinaTreviño-Murphy, a freshman resident studying sociology. “It’s so much easier to find theresources to practice Spanish or French, but not Arabic. I have so many resources forpracticing that are almost impossible for people to find. I can speak Arabic with peopleliving on my floor and get help from a native speaker — Sadam.”Baytunaa residents and all other ILC residents have thegreatest resource of all — a fluent speaker in their languageof study living on their floor.“I have students in my room all the time asking questionsabout Jordan or wanting help with their homework,” saysIssa. “They’re good students, they want to be here, and theyant to learn.”Baytunaa not only provides the necessary and hard-to-findresources for students, but it also prepares them for theirfutures.“My experience here learning Arabic and living in Baytunaahas provided and continues to provide me with so manydi f  erent perspectives,” says sophomore Michael Goldstein.“In order to learn and speak Arabic you have to apply ahole new way of thinking, it’s incredibly challenging, butvery rewarding.”The residents of ILC have a unique opportunity to live in across-cultured environment. Every floor has its ownlanguage and identity specific to those countries where thelanguage is spoken.“The ILC is a place where people speak five to six di f  erent languages and have been to somany di f  erent places, all of these details and backgrounds create for an amazingenvironment that you can’t get anywhere else,” says Treviño-Murphy.All ILC residents are encouraged to share their views and ideas with one another atbimonthly roundtable dinners, creating a little global community of knowledge and insight. © 2008 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System Students embrace Arabic in new International Learning Community (May 1, 2008)2 of 2
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