Inspired by her father's fluency in Arabic, Nancy O'Gara '20 began studying Arabic last summer as part of the Middlebury Language Initiative program. This year, applying to the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program, she received a scholarship to study Arabic abroad in Morocco over the summer.
Due to the novel coronavirus, classes have been moved online for the summer; Nancy is still excited to continue her learning. "I felt like I made strides last year," she said. At Middlebury, although she was a beginner, Nancy took a pledge to speak only Arabic - as much as possible - for the length of the program: "I can get my point across."
"My dad lived in Egypt when he was my age, and he speaks Arabic," Nancy said. She was also inspired to study the language after her sophomore year class in honors European history with Ms. Muriel Coston. "We interviewed a Harvard professor who had spent a lot of time at Syrian camps in Eastern Europe. ... It drew me to that part of the world."
At NSLI-Y, she will participate in virtual classes for two hours each day, plus assignments. Normally, participants would have a chance to visit sites and immerse themselves in the culture of Morocco. Without that, Nancy explained, NSLI-Y is developing programs to introduce them to the culture virtually.
Next year at William & Mary, Nancy looks forward to pursuing her interest in international relations and discovering how Arabic may be a part of her future career.