Patrick, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an alumnus of the 2023 Virtual NSLI-Y program.
Hi! My name is Patrick (he/him) and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My current interests are all things business, and I am considering international business as a future career path. I believe that communication is the most important bridge between people and can unify the world and boost us toward our goals. I believe the best way to improve my communication skills is to learn a new language! Because I have many family friends who grew up speaking Arabic and countries like the United Arab Emirates have fantastic business opportunities, learning Arabic stood out as the best fit and greatest asset for my future. Thus, I began my search for opportunities to learn Arabic. I, fortunately, discovered the U.S. Department of State’s Virtual NSLI-Y program–which offered exactly what I was looking for with high expertise. With this discovery, I embarked on my Arabic language learning journey.
I was first introduced to my instructor whose character and passion facilitated one of the most comfortable and collaborative environments I have ever been in. His enthusiasm for the target language quickly became contagious. I am thankful that he encouraged me and my classmates to incorporate Arabic and its beautiful culture into our daily lives. This was especially possible because of the many activities we participated in with guest speakers, calligraphists, artists, and other teachers. One of my favorite and most memorable experiences in class was when we all made falafel from home. It was delicious!
I also fostered amazing relationships with my classmates–many of whom I still call my closest friends months after the closure of the program. During Virtual NSLI-Y, we learned about each other, exchanged ideas, and, most importantly, grew together. When one of us fell, the others were there to get them back on their feet. This type of experience with such a compassionate cohort of students was incredible, especially since learning a new language can oftentimes be difficult and frustrating. Because of my classmates and my teacher, I truly looked forward to class every week and had a great time!
Looking forward, I plan on further studying Arabic at a university. Virtual NSLI-Y is a unique opportunity that I will forever be grateful for, and for students looking to learn about themselves and their peers from around the world on top of a new language, Virtual NSLI-Y is a great program I would advise them to consider.
And for those who do decide to take on Virtual NSLI-Y, listen purposefully, take risks, and most importantly, be yourself! The best classes are those in which its members are respectful and supportive of each other’s efforts while still being true to themselves.