Eshaan, a Winter 23 Virtual NSLI-Y Arabic alumnus hailing from Houston, TX, sought an educational environment that offered meaningful experiences and opportunities to learn from fellow students. With a passion for languages and fostering connections, Virtual NSLI-Y emerged as the perfect platform to fulfill these aspirations.
“I’ve always enjoyed opportunities to meet and interact with people from all backgrounds, especially if we’re united by a passion for language.”
Eshaan shares a powerful motivation for joining Virtual NSLI-Y. In April 2022, Eshaan volunteered at a refugee enclave in Houston, TX where he taught nutrition and fitness to Arabic-speaking refugee children. He noted that the opportunity to forge connections with these incredible children caused him to feel happy. Though, he had to communicate through an Arabic-speaking translator. After this experience, he realized the significance of language as a bridge to others. Eager to communicate with the students directly and understand their experiences on a deeper level, Eshaan embarked on his Arabic language journey with Virtual NSLI-Y.
“I wanted to learn Arabic for them, so we could connect the same way and so they could know they had someone who understood them on a different plane than any other volunteer.”
Virtual NSLI-Y Experience
Eshaan describes his experience with Virtual NSLI-Y as truly remarkable. He expresses his
gratitude for achieving novice proficiency in Arabic, building lasting connections with classmates, and gaining extensive cultural knowledge. The program fostered a strong sense of camaraderie, with students supporting each other through challenges and delighting in shared cultural experiences, including the lively Palestinian dabke dance. "Our class truly came together as a family — one big Arabic family.”
Eshaan highlights the enriching experiences with guest speakers, such as a professional chess player from the Middle East and a marketing guru. These sessions provided insights into diverse aspects of Arab culture, offering immersive and entertaining experiences. Eshaan candidly shares a specific challenge he encountered with concatenating Arabic alphabets. However, with the guidance of his teacher and persistent practice, he successfully overcame this obstacle.
Upon becoming more comfortable with Arabic, Eshaan envisions utilizing his language skills to further connect with refugee students. He hopes to apply his Arabic knowledge during future trips to the Middle East or North Africa, allowing him to continue supporting and engaging with those he has connected with through his Arabic studies. Eshaan acknowledges the profound impact of Virtual NSLI-Y on his journey toward achieving personal goals. He emphasizes the deepened connections he has fostered with the people he serves and the invaluable cultural context he has gained about the Arab world.
Message to Other Aspiring Language Students
Eshaan expresses his enthusiasm for connecting with fellow language learners and encourages others to approach Virtual NSLI-Y with an open mind and heart. He reassures newcomers that their language journey is bound to yield incredible experiences. “Enter with an open mind and heart, and you’re sure to exit with some incredible experiences. I wish you all the best on your language journey!”