TCLP Alumnus Brings Students to Visit Current TCLP Teacher in Washington, DC

Thursday, May 30, 2019

On February 26, 2019 Mina Akladios (TCLP 2008-2009, North Atlanta High School, GA) brought his Model United Nations (MUN) students from the French International School in Alexandria, Egypt to Washington, DC. During their visit, they spent a day at Theodore Roosevelt High School, where current TCLP participant, Hend Elhendy teaches Arabic.

The visit, which was coordinated by American Councils and Julian Hipkins, III, Global Studies Coordinator at Theodore Roosevelt High School, included a school tour, a typical American high school lunch and conversations, roundtable discussion about cultural learning, a model Arabic class, and classroom visits. The students were paired so that each visiting Egyptian student had an American student to talk with and guide them during the visit. The students traded Arabic and English phrases, shared photos of their friends and families, talked about their lives, and gained insight into what it is like to be a teenager in another part of the world.

During the roundtable discussion, Mr. Hipkins guided the students to share what they had learned during their conversations and throughout the visit. Students conveyed an overwhelming sense of surprise at how many similarities they shared. Indeed, at first glance an observer might not be able to tell who was Egyptian and who was American as the students, regardless of home country, mostly matched in jeans and t-shirts or sweaters.

The Egyptian students talked about how they realized that American high school was different than the film "High School Musical," whereas the American students were surprised that the Egyptian students watched some of the same TV shows and movies that they did. One American student confessed that she had not thought about Egyptian cities as having busy streets and high rises because she had only read about Ancient Egypt and pyramids and had only seen photos of desert landscapes and sand.

Overall, the visit was an amazing opportunity for the American and Egyptian students to practice their target languages (Arabic and English respectively) and learn first-hand about each other’s languages and cultures. The visit ended with hugs, handshakes, and a flurry of exchanges of Instagram and WhatsApp accounts to stay in touch. The Egyptian students got a visit of a lifetime before leaving for their Model UN conference in New York City and the American students returned to their classes, with a renewed enthusiasm for learning Arabic.

TCLP encourages program alumni to connect and welcomes the opportunity to assist in these connections. If you would like to connect with other program alumni, feel free to reach out to TCLP staff or to your alumni cohort leader. Whether it is through a visit to a TCLP country, a sister school relationship, or a Critical Language Project (CLP), the teachers and their students benefit immensely from contact with each other. The next CLP deadline is November 30, 2019 so get in touch now to begin planning!