Program teaches world languages, cultural understanding


by Johnny Archer

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 25 at 6:21 PM

(WHAS11) -- A three week program in downtown Louisville that is partially funded by the National Security Agency and the National Foreign Language Center is teaching world languages.

Organizers say it's a course to help teach U.S. students the government’s critical languages that include Chinese, Swahili, Afghan languages and Arabic.

“There is a real need for linguistic and cultural understanding and cross cultural understanding between the U.S. and Middle East,” said Julie Purcell, Director of the Arabic Language and Culture Institute in Louisville.

Claire Gothard, 14, is in her second summer participating in the three week Arabic language and culture program.

“I was completely ignorant to the Arabic culture the Arabic language,” said Gothard. “This program has helped me understand the language, the culture and I feel a lot more knowledgeable about it.”

Nearly 30 other kids from the Louisville area join her in a setting spoken entirely in Arabic.

“I think kids are really the best group to give this opportunity to because they are very open minded and really make connections and strides cross culturally,” said Purcell.

Coleman Powell is going to be a freshman at Manual High School this fall. He didn't speak any Arabic until he joined the program last summer.

“I’ve learned how to express my likes and dislike in Arabic, my name, who I live with,” said Powell.

On Wednesday, the Louisville students met with a group of Iraqi kids who are visiting the United States for 10 days. Both Americans and Iraqis found that they have more similarities than differences.

“We are all the same,” said 16-year-old Mohammed al-Hilfi from Basrah, Iraq. “It’s a very good feeling to talk to another person who wants to share his culture and background.”

The program is not only offered to kids. It is offered for adults throughout the year who want to learn more about the Middle Eastern culture. Click here for more information about program.