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Grant opens opportunity for middle, high school students to study Arabic during VAMPY

Ten students will be able to study Arabic tuition-free this summer thanks to a grant from the Qatar Foundation International.

Aderdo Brooks of Washington, D.C,. practices her writing skills in the Arabic class during the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) in 2015. (Photo by Emilie Milcarek)

Aderdo Brooks of Washington, D.C,. practices her writing skills in the Arabic class during the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) in 2015. (Photo by Emilie Milcarek)

The grant will fund tuition and travel expenses for 10 students to enroll in Arabic during the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) June 25 to July 15 at WKU.

VAMPY is a residential program for seventh through 10th grade students, offered by The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU, during which highly gifted students spend six hours a day in a challenging academic environment surrounded by their gifted peers. Entering its 34th summer, VAMPY has hosted students from throughout Kentucky, across the United States, and from 10 other countries.

Julia Roberts, the executive director of The Center for Gifted Studies, is especially pleased with the ability to open this opportunity to students with financial need thanks to the grant.

“This summer is the 34th year for VAMPY and the fourth year to offer Arabic as a course of study,” she said. “We are grateful for this financial assistance for VAMPY participants that the grant provides.”

Jake Bowen of Ekron eats Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at an international restaurant in Nashville during a field trip as part of the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) in 2016. (Photo by Tucker Allen Covey)

Jake Bowen of Ekron eats Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at an international restaurant in Nashville during a field trip as part of the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) in 2016. (Photo by Tucker Allen Covey)

Lhousseine Guerwane, an Arabic instructor in the Department of Modern Languages at WKU, teaches the VAMPY class and utilizes a variety of project-based learning strategies with the students.

“The Arabic culture is one of the oldest and richest in the world,” he said. “The class participates in debates, role-plays, discussions, field trips, and projects that enhance knowledge of the language.”

In addition to learning the Arabic language, students experience Arabic cultures through exposure to art, food, cinema, celebrations, traditions and music, Guerwane said.

“Students explore the strong cultural ties between Western and Arab cultures and learn about the modern Arab world,” he said. “It is very important for the next generations to learn about other countries and cultures, especially Arabic, in order to build bridges. Common traits people share far outweigh the few differences between their cultures.”

Past students have found value in the cultural fluency developed in the Arabic course, as Hollis Maxson, a seventh-grader from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, explained while attending VAMPY in 2016.

Berthed Nabaa-McKinney (left) of the Islamic Center of Nashville shows Hollis Maxson of Winston-Salem, N.C., passages in the Quran while Arabic teacher Lhousseine Guerwane watches during a field trip to the Islamic Center of Nashville as part of the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) in 2016. (Photo by Tucker Allen Covey)

Berthed Nabaa-McKinney (left) of the Islamic Center of Nashville shows Hollis Maxson of Winston-Salem, N.C., passages in the Quran while Arabic teacher Lhousseine Guerwane watches during a field trip to the Islamic Center of Nashville as part of the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) in 2016. (Photo by Tucker Allen Covey)

“As technology improves, the world is opening up,” he said. “You’re going to be exposed to so many different cultures. If you understand those cultures, it won’t be scary, and you won’t feel threatened; it just becomes daily life. The more you know, the better you understand the world.”

Students interested in applying for the scholarship can download an application from The Center’s website at http://www.wku.edu/gifted/vampy/vampy-arabic-scholarship.pdf.  The application deadline is March 31.

Now in its 36th year, The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU serves gifted children, their educators and parents through educational opportunities, professional development and a variety of other resources and support.

Contact: Sam Oldenburg, (270) 745-3014 or samual.oldenburg@wku.edu

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