Luana Davila is an alumna of the 2019 CLS Arabic program in Meknes, Morocco. She’s currently working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies with a minor in Arabic at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Luana hopes to use her Arabic working in archeology in Egypt and in curation at the Field Museum in Chicago. She dedicates her free time to music, playing guitar, bass, violin, and singing in a mariachi.
Inspired by Family to Pursue Language
I was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois (just south of Chicago) before moving to Chicago for university. My family inspired my interest in language: my father’s side is Peruvian and my mom’s side is Palestinian. Because of them, I grew up speaking several languages. My rich and mixed heritage has also made for a unique cultural and religious upbringing. I chose to study Arabic to become closer to the Palestinian side of my family and my culture.
Professional Goals Using Language
I would like to work in Egypt doing archaeological work while being able to communicate with the locals. I also hope to work in curation at the Field Museum in Chicago and have been pushing myself to pursue diverse experiences to prepare me for a position there. I plan to use my language to be an asset to the museum. Since the Field Museum has such an extensive Egyptian collection, I plan to help it grow by becoming a curator who can communicate easily with the countries we work with. With my Arabic, I hope to bridge the gap between national museums and middle eastern ones.
Arabic is such an important and beautiful language that I would push anyone who is interested to learn. It is important in history as one of the earliest and most powerful civilizations spoke it (the Egyptians). I would recommend Meknes as well because a lot of Middle Easterners do not know a lot about the rich cultural history of the African Arab countries. I learned completely new and interesting things that I was able to share with not only students unfamiliar with Arabic but students who had been speaking Arabic all their lives and knew nothing about the African Arab countries.
A Learning Experience via Taxi
At the beginning of the program when my Arabic was shaky, my roommate and I decided to take a trip to the local supermarket to pick up some snacks. While the store wasn’t a long walk from our home, we decided to take a cab because we weren’t 100% sure of the route. I ended up asking the driver to take us to the large supermarket about 30 minutes away from us rather than the one that was about a 2‑minute drive away. Needless to say, my roommate and I were completely freaked out because neither knew how to ask where we were going or could figure out what was going on. I decided it was time to really buckle down and learn so this wouldn’t happen again. By the end of the program I was arguing with taxi drivers for overcharging me.
Back home in Chicago, I became a great asset to the classroom. The program had really unlocked my language potential and I was able to aid my fellow students when they were struggling with Arabic. I also got to teach my fellow classmates what I had learned about Moroccan culture after my time there. Because of the CLS Program, I have gained access to so many amazing career opportunities. I have made lifelong friends and it was truly an unforgettable experience that I recommend to anyone and everyone.
April 29, 2020