Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Last words...

Yesterday morning I signed a pledge that I wouldn't communicate in anything but Arabic for the next eight weeks. Today is day #2 and I just couldn't help myself. I had to get out a few last words. It feels like being swallowed up by a giant tidal wave, and wanting to tell someone how insane and beautiful that tidal wave is.

Truth is, it is an insanely beautiful thing to be living with a few hundred people who won't speak English with you. It's disorienting, and awkward, and fantastic in a way I couldn't have foreseen.

 The Language Pledge has turned this campus into a strange social experiment, where people choose to speak in Arabic and sound like toddlers rather than sound their age in their native language. That's basically the trick to nailing a language, but you'd think college-age humans would be too self-conscious to pull this off 24/7. Even in the dining hall, when you're surrounded by young, interesting people, you have to accept the fact that you're not going to learn 1% of what you want to learn about them unless you step up your speaking skills. It's refreshing to see that kind of commitment, and vulnerability.

One of the most confusing things here is that most of us don't look like Arabic speakers. It's going to take another few days before I'm used to walking around campus, seeing a white person, and instinctively saying "marhaba," "ahlan" or "keef halek al-yom?"

We have six hours of class during the day, and around five hours of homework at night. I've never been so jazzed to study in my life.

 My goal is to emerge from this program an Arabic speaker. I don't know exactly what work I'll find myself in, but the ability to communicate effectively with Arabic speakers is something I value highly, and I think it's good for the world. I think my speaking Arabic is good for the world, at least in my experience, whether in the Middle East or in the States, it brings joy.

 I have an IndieGogo campaign set up to help me cover some of my tuition costs. If you'd like to help, you'll receive some calligraphy from me, with your name, your friends' names, and/or a prayer/blessing in Arabic. You can also request a phone call where I serenade you with Egyptian or Lebanese tunes. Here's the link!: Morgan's Arabic-Learning Adventure

I'll be updating periodically here, but for non-Arabic speakers I'll have Before and After videos of myself being interviewed at the beginning and at the end, in August. The difference should be clear, inshallah!

Thank you all, and surely ashufkom badain (see you later!)