Friday, Jan 24, 2014
Al Ain: Seven foreign students, including five Americans, are keen on learning Arabic in the Emirati dialect to experience the culture and heritage of the city of Al Ain.
The students include one each from Bosnia Herzegovinian and Ethiopia and are studying at the New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi. After spending three weeks in Al Ain, they will learn the local dialect and will experience Emirati culture, Nasser Isleem, an NYU instructor, told Gulf News.
After taking four semesters of modern standard Arabic, this has been a new and eye-opening learning experience about the UAE, he added.
âItâs an amazing experience. I have visited many cultural and historical places and met with various Emiratis to appreciate their culture and learn from their them,â said Luka Vasilj, the Bosnia Herzegovinian student. He and his fellow classmates said they enjoyed this experience.
âThey spoke only Arabic during this time,â said Carol Brandt, associate vice-chancellor for Global Education and Outreach at the NYU Abu Dhabi. âThey were, however, permitted to speak in English in case of an emergency,â she said.
Aisha Al Hashemi, an Emirati instructor with the students, said the Emirati culture had deeply inspired the students. âThey not only learned the language but also experienced the local culture by participating in traditional events and intermingling with Emiratis,â she said.
She said that learning a foreign language always opens up the gates of culture and knowledge and the NYU students have experienced the same. The university, she said, selected Al Ain for the studentsâ visit for being the cultural nerve centre of the UAE. âIt was a part of the NYU Abu Dhabiâs intensive course on Emirati culture and language,â said Aisha.
The students and their instructors met at Al Ayla Hotel on Wednesday evening to participate in a programme that included poetry, music, and performances.
During the language course, Aisha said, the students spent time in Al Ain by participating in local cultural activities including dining with local families, engaging with artists, and learning about traditions like Hejamah (cupping) and herbal medicines. They also learnt from a new text book that was created by the NYU faculty and staff specifically on the Emirati dialect, she said.
By Aftab Kazmi Bureau Chief
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