September 2022 update:

NSLI-Y is proud to highlight recent accomplishments of NSLI-Y alumna Dana Slayton. Dana was recognized during her program for being the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ American Abroad Student of the Month for October, 2017. We recently caught up with Dana to hear about what she’s up to as an alumna, how her NSLI-Y experience prepared her for her career, and her recent return to Morocco!

Dana Slayton is an alumna of the NSLI-Y 2015 Summer and 2017-2018 Academic Year programs in Morocco. Following completion of her NSLI-Y program, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern Studies and in Arabic Sociolinguistics at Cornell University. While in college, she participated in the Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic and a year-long intensive Arabic program through the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. Dana has recently returned to Morocco to work at the Arab American Language Institute in Morocco. She has previous experience in Arabic instruction, conducting research in Arabic, and implementing international exchange programs. She will soon be moving to Algeria to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

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Dana’s Arabic journey started completely by chance with the flip of a coin to determine which foreign language she wanted to study in high school. After two days of classes though, Dana knew that she had found what she wanted to study for the rest of her life. The musicality of the language, the richness of its vocabulary and beauty of its written form, and the warmth and hospitality she encountered from teachers and native-speaking friends in the early days of learning entranced her. The more she learned about the language and the diversity of cultures encompassed by the people who speak it, the more invested she became in reaching fluency and sharing the joy of learning Arabic with others.

This love of Arabic led her to apply for NSLI-Y; NSLI-Y helped her to narrow her focus of how she wanted to use Arabic in her career. Her educators helped her to realize her passion for education and desire to work with students. Her current work in study abroad program coordination and her upcoming Fulbright grant in Algeria are a result of the support she received from language educators during NSLI-Y. Her language skills have enabled her to live and work in an Arabic-only environment and pursue primary-source research in Arabic language archives. In her current role, Dana speaks exclusively in Arabic to help liaise between teachers, students, and administrators to ensure that all students have the best experience possible-a clear indicator of how far her language skills have come.

Dana’s NSLI-Y experience also taught her many important lessons about adaptability, cross-cultural communication, and relationship-building. She notes that, “Living and studying in Morocco with NSLI-Y, I learned how to view ambiguity and uncertainty as potential learning opportunities, rather than problems to be solved. I also learned the importance of taking life more slowly and truly valuing unstructured free time, both alone and with others, as a key part of the cultural learning experience.” She believes that these skills will be helpful to her as she moves to Algeria and immerses herself in another new culture and environment.

Original January 2018 post:

Dana, a current NSLI-Y student in Morocco, was recently nominated as the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ American Abroad Student of the Month for October 2017. Congratulations, Dana!

Dana Slayton, a NSLI-Y student, has been excelling during her time in Morocco! Coming in with an advanced level of Arabic language, she has been working tirelessly to further strengthen her Arabic language skills. With her NSLI-Y teacher, Dana has committed herself to expanding her vocabulary, improving her reading skills, developing her essay writing, and developing fluency in both Modern Standard and Moroccan colloquial Arabic – a very difficult task for a non-native speaker.Dana is challenging her advanced level of Arabic by attending 4 hours a week of philosophy class at a local Moroccan high school (and loving it!). She has also gotten permission to sit in on a graduate-level Applied Linguistics class with one of her language partners at Mohammed V University.

Click here to read the full article on Dana on the U.S. Department of State website.

To read about previous American Abroad Students of the Month, click here.

NSLI-Y Morocco 2017-18 group shot with Dana in the center