NSLI-Y alumna Grace Hall participated in the 2019 NSLI-Y Summer Program for Arabic in Amman, Jordan. Grace recently returned to Amman as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA). ​

Grace poses, perched upon a well, while in Jordan as a participant in the NSLI-Y program.

Grace’s journey with Arabic began at her high school in Idaho. When picking a foreign language to study, she realized she knew very little about the Arab world and decided to learn more. This sparked a passion for the Middle East that she didn’t know she had. After really enjoying the language study, she branched out to connecting with the Arab community in Idaho and learning more about Arab culture. She applied for NSLI-Y to continue building her language skills and be able to implement what she had been learning in an immersion environment, and was overjoyed to receive a scholarship for study in Amman, Jordan. ​

Grace believes that her NSLI-Y experience was a catalyst that sparked her academic and career path, influencing her decisions on what to study in university and giving her the confidence she needed to continue her academic and professional journey. She enjoyed learning about different cultures in an immersive environment and seeing similarities and​ differences between American and Jordanian cultures. Grace returned home, enrolled in Boise State University, and threw herself into taking advantage of every opportunity possible to continue improving her Arabic language abilities and engaging with local Arab communities. In university, Grace created her own major that focused on Arabic, International Relations, and Global Studies and receiving a TESOL Certificate. Additionally, she studied abroad in Morocco and Israel, focused all of her projects on the Middle East, volunteered with Arab communities, befriended Middle Eastern Fulbright students at BSU, started the university’s Arabic Club, and published her own Arabic textbook. These all are experiences that she notes she felt more comfortable having because of her NSLI-Y experience.​

Grace poses in front of a tree while in Jordan as a Fulbright scholar.

Grace was drawn to Fulbright and the English Teaching Assistantship for a variety of reasons. She had enjoyed her experiences in education thus far, especially the creation of her own Arabic textbook, which allowed her to combine her passion for Arabic study with her interest in making sure other students in Idaho had access to high-quality and affordable Arabic education. To help acquire more formal classroom experience, she worked at the College of Western Idaho as an Assistant ESL Teacher, where she helped teach refugees. She also enjoyed working at a summer camp with local refugee children, where she improved her Arabic skills and learned more about Middle Eastern cultures while helping the children improve their language skills. These experiences helped her develop the skills needed to be successful as an ETA. She has found many “full-circle moments” while in Jordan as an ETA, including having her NSLI-Y host brother as one of her students! ​

After returning from her Fulbright program, Grace hopes to continue her career in international education through helping make sure foreign language resources are available to all students and helping ensure that students who are underrepresented in study abroad have access to exchange programs as well. For Grace, NSLI-Y was her first time outside of the country, and she notes that learning to live with a host family, navigate a new environment, and engage with a new culture were all experiences that helped her to learn and grow. The relationships she built with her language instructor while on-program helped her navigate these challenges and increase her self-confidence, while also showing her the importance of mentoring. Grace hopes that through her teaching and efforts to promote study abroad, she can help others to have equally impactful experiences. ​