The Cardinal Times Spring 2021 Issue

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PAGE 8• The Cardinal Times, SPRING, 2021 ARTS

Q &A: Students share appreciation for Arabic class


Lincoln High School offers an extremely

unique opportunity for its students:

taking Arabic language up to the IB

level. As the only public school in the

state that has this course offering, not

only is the program special, it is also

well-loved by all participating students.

Unfortunately, class sizes have

always been small, with the program

and language getting limited exposure.

Forecasting for the coming school year

has shown that not enough students

are enrolled, which could mean the

loss of the program.

The Cardinal Times spoke with different

students in the Arabic program

to hear their perspectives on the Arabic

class at Lincoln. Juniors Leila Besic,

Dalida Farhat, and Lea Rocheleau

in the 7-8 Arabic class shared their

thoughts, along with seniors Anna

Miller and Carson Nitta from the 9-10

Arabic class. Interviews have been edited

for brevity and clarity.

Note: In Arabic, we called our teacher

which can be written in English ‏,ةذاتسا

as Ustada

Why did you choose to take Arabic?

Leila Besic: I began taking Arabic at

West Sylvan because I realized it was

a very unique opportunity that other

public schools in Oregon don’t have. I

also knew Arabic would be helpful to

me in my future, as it is beneficial in

many careers and one of the most spoken


Anna Miller: I chose to take Arabic

because I had heard such incredible

things about the program from family


Dalida Farhat: I chose to take Arabic

because not only is it the language my

parents speak at home, but it is also

such an interesting language to learn

as it is so different from English.

Lea Rocheleau: I chose to take Arabic

because of the amazing opportunity

and it seemed like a really unique

and exciting language to learn. I loved

learning the alphabet and how different

speaking and writing the language

is from English.

Carson Nitta: I started Arabic in 6th

grade because the language intrigued

me and it sounded fun to learn a more

unique language compared to Spanish

or French.

What is your favorite part about

the class? About the culture?

About our teacher?

Besic: I really love everything about

the class, but if I had to pick, I would

say my favorite thing is all the amazing

activities Ms. Ruqayya plans for

us. Everything we do is so interactive

and fun, yet it also teaches us so much.

The culture is amazing! Everyone is so

kind-hearted and genuine. The food is

really good too! As for Ms. Ruqayya,

there are way too many things I love

about her for me to pick just one. As

a student in her class, you can really

tell Ms. Ruqayya loves all her students.

She tries so hard to make us happy

and make class fun for us. Just a few

days ago, Ms.Ruqayya taught us how

to make hummus on zoom, knowing

we were stressed with the workload of

other classes. Even with online school,

Ms. Ruqayya manages to find fun (and

delicious) activities for us to help our

mental health. She’s very very compassionate,

funny, empathetic, talented,

and one of the strongest people I know.

Miller: The current 9-10 class has

created such a strong community and

I love everyone so much, and I am so

grateful for this experience and this

family we have created. Ustada Ruqayya

feels like a second mom to me. She

is the kindest, most generous, empathetic,

and caring person I have ever

met, and the best teacher on the planet.

The care and dedication she puts into

her class and to her students’ health,

mental and physical, is unmatched.

I think my favorite part of the class is

just the incredible group of friends and

the connection I will have with these

people forever, and the kindness I have

been taught.

Farhat: I love not only the environment

and community we have built

over the years but also the activities

we do in the class itself. We have done

many fun activities that other classes

don’t get to do, like cooking food, while

also learning from it.

Rocheleau: My favorite part of the

class is the community we have. We’ve

known each other for a long time and

we all have a really good time in Arabic

class. Also, Ustada Ruqayya is an

amazing, engaging, and loving teacher

who makes me excited to come to class

every day.

Nitta: The class community is super

tight and Ustada is by far the nicest and

most caring teacher I’ve ever had. The

culture is super unique and diverse and

taking Arabic has opened my eyes to a

whole new part of the world.

Why would you encourage others

to take Arabic?

Besic: I would encourage others to

take Arabic because it’s truly a very

unique opportunity that Lincoln has

been privileged with. It’s my favorite

class and offers so much to the community.

Miller: I encourage everyone to take

Arabic. Yes, it is challenging and can be

difficult at first, but it is such an incredible

skill to have. Taking Arabic will

push you, but it is so worth it. We also

have so much fun! We learn to make

hummus, we host our annual culture

night, with a fashion show, and many

other incredible things. There is so

much more than just learning the language

that goes into Arabic, and that’s

what I love about it!

Rocheleau: I would encourage others

to take this class to expand the Arabic

program and make an even stronger

community. You get to learn a very

unique language and tell everyone

about what you are learning. Although

the language is different and challenging,

the class itself is not incredibly

hard if you attend every class and try

your best.

Nitta: The Arabic program is incredibly

important to Lincoln. It is the only

PPS high school that offers Arabic

making it very unique. I also think it’s

the coolest language you can learn right

now. Not only is it difficult to find Arabic

teachers in America, but it is also

one of the most prevalent languages in

the world, just as important as Spanish

or English. Also, there are many opportunities

that open up to people who can

speak Arabic because of how few people

have that skill in America.

What has your biggest takeaway

from the Arabic program been?

Besic: My biggest takeaway has been

learning so much about the language

and culture. I feel as if I could effectively

visit an Arabic country and manage

to hold a conversation and live my

day-to-day life there. Furthermore, the

culture is so beautiful and everyone deserves

to experience it.

Miller: My biggest takeaway has been

the stereotypes broken about Middle

Eastern and Arabic culture. As Americans,

we all have this idea of what

we think we know about the Middle

East and about Islam, but most of it is

wrong. Islam is a religion of peace and

kindness, and the more we spread this

message through the Lincoln community,

the better.

Farhat: My biggest takeaway from the

Arabic program is how big of an impact

the classroom environment has

on one’s learning experience. Since the

community in the Arabic program is so

structured and tight-knit, learning the

language is even more fun than it usually

would be.

How has the Arabic program impacted

your life?

Besic: Arabic has impacted my life

more than any other class. I’ve learned

so many things and created unbreakable

bonds with my fellow peers and

teacher. Ms. Ruqayya has taught us

many life lessons, like to always be

kind and compassionate, and that hard

phases in life will pass.

Miller: Arabic has impacted my life in

so many ways, but the main one would

have to be that I’m planning to major

in it in college! I am so excited to continue

my Arabic studies in college and

work with other incredible students

from all over the world.

Farhat: After participating in the Arabic

program, I am now able to keep

conversations in Arabic, read articles

and books in Arabic and write in Arabic.

Rocheleau: The Arabic program has

impacted my life in a lot of ways because

I have learned a lot about the

language and culture in ways that I

would not know if I did not take this


What would you tell other students

who are considering taking

the class?

Besic: I would definitely encourage

other students to take the class! It was

the best choice of my life and I wouldn’t

trade it for anything.

Miller: I would tell other students to

take this class if you’re considering it,

no question about it! You will not regret

it at all.

Farhat: Do it!! Taking Arabic was

one of the best class choices I have

ever made. Everything about the class

is amazing as it always keeps you involved.

There are also so many opportunities

that arise outside of the classroom

by just joining the Arabic class.

Nitta: If you enjoy learning languages

there is no better language to learn.

If you want to learn about a rich and

unique culture there is no better language

to learn. If you just want to

broaden your worldview there is no

better language to take.

Why is the Arabic program at our

school so important and what

would losing it mean?

Besic: The Arabic program is so important

for so many reasons. For one,

Lincoln is the only public high school

in Oregon that offers Arabic, making it

very unique and valuable. As it is not

offered at many schools, students at

Lincoln must take advantage of this

amazing opportunity! Losing it would

be a tragic loss. Losing Arabic would

mean losing an amazing teacher, culture

and class.

Miller: The Arabic program at Lincoln

is so unique, and we cannot afford to

lose it. When I tell other people that I

am studying Arabic in high school and

plan to in college, they don’t believe

me! Arabic is an amazing language,

and the class is so much more than just

1 hour of your day. Losing it means losing

the best teacher and best program

at Lincoln that has been so successful

to its students and has provided a safe

place for its students. I can’t imagine

Lincoln without the Arabic program

and how much it has taught me.

Farhat: The Arabic program at Lincoln

is so important because it allows

students to experience cultures and

languages they would’ve never been

exposed to prior to taking the class.

Losing it would mean the loss of those

in-depth teachings of many things we

would not have learned in other classes.

Rocheleau: Losing the Arabic program

would be so sad for me and everyone

in the program currently. This

has become a much bigger part of our

life than just a language class (In the

best way possible) and not having this

opportunity would be really hard for us

and Lincoln. It is a big part of Lincoln

and a really interesting thing you can

have on your resume or for college applications!!

Nitta: Losing the Arabic program

would be a huge blow to Lincoln’s already

limited diversity.

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