Qimmah Najeeullah is an alumna of the 2015 CLS Arabic program in Madaba, Jordan. She grew up in Maryland in a multi-ethnic Muslim home, so global citizenship has always been a basic value of her life. She is currently the Program Manager / SEVIS Coordinator in the Division of International Affairs at Morgan State University. When she is not traveling the world (she has been to 26 countries), she is an avid indoor climber.
I wanted to develop a working proficiency in Arabic because it will be important for my future career. My goal is to live and work in the Middle East, either through the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer in consular affairs, or at a university or some other educational institution in an Arabic-speaking community. Participating in CLS gave me the ability to communicate confidently in Arabic and re-committed me to my professional goals to use the language daily.
Learning more than language
Until I got there, I didn’t know that there is a large Christian population in Jordan.
The kitchen classroom
My favorite part of my CLS experience was getting to know my host family and instructors personally. I vividly remember my roommate and me spending hours in the kitchen with my host mother making moajanat, a typical Middle Eastern pastry filled with meat, cheese, or zait and zaatar. We had great discussions about the lives of women and family and talked a lot about our shared and contrasting experiences in the U.S. and in other countries.
In a word…
My favorite Arabic phrase to use was “Tabanna, Mama. Tabanna!” It means, “I’m tired, mom. Tired!” My little host sister would come home crying this phrase every day after her summer camp. I began to do the same thing when I got home from class!
If you had one day in Jordan…
A must-do is the Jeresh festival, an annual music festival among ancient ruins of Jeresh.
Words of wisdom
I advise participants to go into the experience with an open mind – to let your experience be an organic one. Also, do not put pressure on yourself to learn the same way or at the same pace of everyone else.