One of our 3rd year Intercultural Studies interns is currently living in the Middle East and teaching music fundamentals to grade 7-10 students. Here’s a small glimpse into his life and experiences there…
I’ve been living in the Middle East for two months and it has been absolutely fantastic! The first month involved settling in and getting accustomed to the culture. I enjoyed learning language, sightseeing famous landmarks, and getting to know the people that I would eventually be working with for the remainder of the year. Next, I moved into my apartment and started teaching music at the high school.
Teaching is something that I was not prepared for and it has taken my breath away more than once due to both exhaustion and excitement. Working with students is stressful and you are never quite sure what to expect. Nothing goes according to plan, and discipline is not fun at all but in the end all the hard-work is infinitely worth it to witness the faces of wonder and excitement as the kids learn about the mysteries of something that they have enjoyed but never understood their whole lives.
One of the most difficult things that I have to deal with is the language barrier. Arabic is a very difficult language for English speakers to learn because it uses its own script and does not really have any strong similarities with the English language. In order to learn Arabic I have decided to sit on a few of the first grade Arabic classes so that I can try learning the language right alongside the little kids! Being with the young’uns helps to remind me that even though I am able to function as an adult in my own country, here I am like a child anytime I attempt to communicate. Not knowing what people are saying is a great motivator for learning the language and I completely understand why people say that immersion is the fastest way to learn a language.
One of my favourite things about the culture so far is the warm hospitality. The first few months I have hardly cooked at all because people invite me out for meals and pay my way! They really make me feel that I am welcomed and wanted in a way that I have not really experienced before. I’m so thankful already for this experience… can’t wait to see what happens next!