Samty X.

"I'll always say this about being a student in the Department of African Languages and Literature: I got the whole package."

Major(s) and Certificate(s): International Studies, African Languages & Literature, Certificate in Middle East Studies

Language(s): Arabic

Graduation Year: 2015

Current Location: Brooklyn Center, MN

What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?

I am currently doing my AmeriCorps VISTA service year in Saint Paul, MN as the Racial Equity VISTA in the Office of Mayor Chris Coleman.

What motivated you to study this/these languages?

During my senior year of high school, I wrote a paper on Islamophobia in the United States. Starting off as a freshman, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to study, so I decided to join a FIG called Fighting for God and Arabic was one of my classes! I absolutely loved learning the language and culture.

How have these languages enriched your life?

I have very vivid dreams and sometimes, I have dreams in Arabic. Studying Arabic has opened many doors for me. I have been able to travel and meet many people because of it.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?

I’ll always say this about being a student in the Department of African Languages and Literature: I got the whole package. I was able to experience being at a large university but I still was able to get to know my professors and classmates well as a result of being in a much smaller department.

How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?

I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan during the fall semester of my junior year, and I loved it. I miss my Jordanian family and friends every day. Right before I studied abroad, I also participated in APTLII (the Arabic Persian Turkish Immersion Institute). We lived, ate, studied and breathed Arabic together. Although it was difficult and intense, it definitely boosted my language skills that I later used in Jordan.

I also spent a semester in Washington, D.C. interning at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees during my senior year through the DC Semester in International Affairs Program. I was able to use my Arabic skills to translate certain documents and made many important connections that I know will be beneficial to my career in the future.

What advice do you have for current language students?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! You can never master a language without making mistakes.

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?

“Al Shatranj” which is “chess” in Arabic.