I feel very fortunate to be part of the Al-Bustan community. I come from a mixed Arab and American background, my father being Palestinian and my mother American. I grew up traveling back and forth to Palestine, even spending several years living there, but I always felt incredibly out of place. This, I felt, was because I couldn’t speak Arabic, and it has left me feeling disconnected when trying to communicate with my Palestinian family.
Prior to Al-Bustan, I had no formal education on the Arabic language and grew up in an English-speaking household. My skill-level was that of an American tourist: just enough to get by but not enough to carry on a conversation. I wanted to study the language but didn’t know where to find a program that would be right for me. When I saw on Al-Bustan’s Instagram back in January that they were opening up their Arabic language courses for adults, I immediately emailed to inquire about lessons. After a few friendly back and forths with Bridget, discussing skill level and personal goals, I was enrolled in their online program with Professor Noora Alrawi.
Lessons are held online via zoom over the course of 15 weeks. Noora is a fantastic educator, particularly for such a challenging language. I was first enrolled in her beginner’s course for the first semester of the program. I went into our first class with no visual understanding of the alphabet, but with Noora’s patience and method of teaching, by the end of the beginner’s semester I was able to read sentences and had gained far more knowledge on grammar and vocabulary. When the semester concluded, and after a few weeks break, I enrolled in her intermediate-level course. Both classes are twice a week, Monday through Thursday. The intermediate-level course was geared towards students who have basic understanding of the language but want to strengthen their skills and continue learning new language rules and vocabulary. Noora always came to class prepared to utilize every minute of class time with us. She would utilize various teaching methods to help us understand new material, and homework assignments were crucial to continue thinking in Arabic outside of class time. Noora is an engaging, enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable instructor. I have left the courses feeling far more confident in my language skills that I will continue to work on, especially with my family. I absolutely recommend connecting with Al-Bustan and getting to know the organization, as well as enrolling in any of Noora’s courses.