Posted on May 23, 2016

Qatar Foundation International (QFI), which seeks to bridge the cultural gap between the United States and the Arab world through language education and cultural-exchange, has awarded two separate grants – a total of $115,000 – to schools in Austin, Texas and Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Arabic has seen an explosion of interest among American students over the past decade, as many young people yearn to appreciate a culture that is so often misunderstood in the United States. However, in-school programs have struggled to keep pace. QFI has awarded a grant in the amount of $100,000 to the Austin Independent School District (AISD) to support their Arabic programming during 2016-2017 and a grant worth $15,000 to Chagrin Falls High School (CFHS) aimed at expanding their Arabic program.

With the grant award, AISD will establish the first and only Arabic program in the school district. The grant supports two teachers who will teach at three schools: Burnet Middle School, Austin High School, and International/Eastside Memorial High School. The program will start by offering level 1 Arabic at all three schools, and increase the number of levels offered each year at the high schools in response to student enrollments. The grant includes funding for teacher salary, curriculum development, and materials/resources.

Since the CFHS high school Arabic teacher retired last year, the school’s Arabic program was put on hold, as no one qualified was found to take the position. Thanks to QFI's support, CFHS will re-start their Arabic program in the fall. CFHS teacher Anita Boumitri is both a French and Arabic teacher, and this grant will provide partial salary and teaching materials, as well as training for Ms. Boumitri, who will be attending the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) convention through QFI's support.

“With this generous grant funding from QFI, we will be able to grow Ms. Boumitri’s existing part-time teaching position to a full-time position in the 2016-17 school year,” said Director of Curriculum, Becky Quinn. “We greatly appreciate the support from QFI and look forward to our collaborative work ahead.”

“We are pleased to support the launch of Arabic in Austin and the relaunch of the Arabic language program at the Chagrin Falls School District and to provide opportunities and access to critical language education for young adults across the US,” said Maggie Mitchell Salem, QFI’s Executive Director. “For the past seven years, QFI has partnered with a number of schools across the US to advance access to Arabic, a critical language in the US, to K-12 public and public charter school students and we welcome the great addition of Chagrin and Austin Schools to our growing network."

QFI sees language as a fabric to connect cultures, and has partnered with 24 K-12 schools across the United States, allowing American students to gain a foothold in the Arabic language from a young age and gain 21st century skills applicable in a global market. Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people worldwide, is the fastest-growing second language in the United States, and has helped US students pursue careers in business, journalism, diplomacy, national security, and much more.

To learn more about QFI, or their Arabic advocacy campaign iSpeakArabic, which showcases the benefits of studying Arabic along with access to Arabic language resources, please visit iSpeakArabic.com. For a list of QFI’s Arabic school programs, please visit http://qfi.org/programs/arabic-language-and-culture/partner-schools/

 

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