In Overland Park, Kansas, one student is receiving his reward for his exemplary work in learning Arabic, earning the chance to go on a six-week language tour in Morocco. The student, Adam Wilkerson was just awarded a scholarship from the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program of the U.S. State Department. Preparing young American students with proven academic excellence to be global leaders is one of the purposes of the program.
Arabic, like Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese, are considered by English speakers as the most difficult languages to learn. However, this fact challenged senior high school student Adam Wilkerson to learn Arabic. He worked continuously for two years with his teacher, Annie Hasan at the Shawnee Mission West High School. Wilkerson will be going with his teacher on a language and cultural exchange visit to Morocco. Wilkerson said that he already has a good grasp on writing, reading and speaking Arabic. He is confident that he would be able to communicate very well with a native Arabic speaker.
Wilkerson supplements his academic studies in Arabic by being active on social media sites, conversing with his friends in the U.S. and Arab countries who speak Arabic. He also visits several Arabic news websites to learn the language faster and to be kept informed on Arab culture, current events and issues.
He said that he had been interested in international politics for a long time and want to know more about how dialogues and interactions between nations are conducted. He believes that his interest in Arabic stemmed from that original interest since the Arab World is huge, being composed of many nations and a region where political evolution is always present.
Wilkerson’s tour involves living and studying in Morocco for six weeks. He’ll be mastering Arabic as well as immersing in the everyday life and culture in the country where he will spend his summer vacation. Annie Hasan said that Wilkerson will be living, eating and sleeping Arabic during their six-week stay.
Wilkerson is looking forward to his scholarship, already preparing to think in Arabic so he does not have to translate English into Arabic in his head before he can speak. He wants to do it automatically in order to communicate easily and quickly. His teacher feels that Wilkerson is the perfect high school representative for this language exchange experience, both as a U.S. representative and for his own personal goals. He already knows enough Arabic that he will be able to create a communication bridge among communities to promote better understanding, which is one of the program’s goals.
Adam Wilkerson believes in the program as well, saying that these countries will become far more important in the future and the U.S. needs more people who can speak Arabic and understand their history and culture.