Happy May and Lei Day, everyone! Now that we’re entering a new month, you know what that means…a new edition of the GPS! And along with the GPS come the stories of some of our wonderful teachers and students. Read on to learn about their experiences with GLN, and if you’d like to submit your story, feel free to contact Rachael@TheGLN.org!
Featured Student – Marcos Carvalho
Hi, my name is Marcos da Rocha Carvalho and I’m originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I speak Portuguese, English, French, Catalan, and Spanish. I have taken three classes at GLN: Advanced French, and Intro to Catalan I and II. Last year I was awarded an arts residency in Catalonia. I was one of 10 people chosen from over 120 applicants from all over the world to stay for free in the small town of Avinyó and research and create art for 2 weeks at the Cal Gras Alberg de Cultura. It was a wonderful experience where I got to learn about Catalan culture, travel, make new friends, and eat really delicious food. And of course, to practice my Catalan!
In December, the artwork I produced in Catalonia was shown at the Cal Gras Alberg de Cultura’s gallery and since then I’ve gone on to make and sell t-shirts featuring the work I created there. Everyone in Catalonia was really impressed that I had learned enough Catalan to converse with them; they were incredibly warm and welcoming and seemed delighted to meet a Catalan-speaking Brazilian who had learned their lovely language in Washington, DC!
Many people in DC asked me early on why I was learning Catalan. I was told a number of times that I was wasting my time and that it was a useless language, mostly by Spanish speakers (and not just from Spain either). But I have to tell you that this didn’t deter me at all, and in the end there was a big payoff, which was the arts residency. There’s no such thing as a useless language; language is the key to unlocking human existence in this planet. The more keys you have, the more you can learn about the human experience.
Featured Teacher – Blake Duffy
My name is Blake Duffy and I have been involved with GLN since mid-2011. I have been fortunate enough to take three classes and teach two over the last year, and both experiences have been very rewarding. The three levels of Farsi I took were a blast, and getting the opportunity to teach Arabic II this semester has been amazing. Without a doubt, interacting with the students has been the highlight of my teaching experience with GLN. Having sat in their shoes as a beginner Arabic student years ago, I remember what it was like to be overwhelmed by Arabic’s foreign structure, grammar, and alphabet. However, the same complexity that often puts people off from studying Arabic is actually one of the most interesting things about it. Helping people to see that and get excited about learning Arabic is what made me want to volunteer with GLN. Here are a few things that I think make the Arabic language so interesting:
- First, it’s old. Really old. One of the experiences that has stuck with me was being able to read and understand a twelfth-century Bible on display at a museum in Cairo, Egypt. Try going back that far in “Old English” and you will be lucky to understand even a few words.
- Second, it all makes sense – sort of. Arabic is very formulaic, and once you learn the patterns, you can start putting the pieces together. It truly is a puzzle but well worth the effort.
- Lastly, the Arabic-speaking world has an incredibly interesting history and culture. Learning the language will open up a whole new set of doors for you to explore.
The list could go on, as there are plenty of reasons to study any language, but I highly recommend giving Arabic a shot. You won’t be disappointed.