Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants Lead New Russian, Arabic Courses at DCCC This Fall

Fulbright Teaching Assistants

Aug. 20, 2014 – For the first time this fall, Davidson County Community College will offer Arabic and Russian language courses taught by native speakers visiting the college through the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program.

Ghada Somrani, a native of Tunis, Tunisia, and Valentina Diulger, who is from St. Petersburg, Russia, will teach their native languages and share their culture with DCCC students through a variety of classes and events. Meanwhile, they will refine their own teaching skills, increase their English language proficiency and immerse themselves in American culture for a year.

“DCCC is very fortunate to count the Fulbright program among the many international experiences we offer our students,” says Suzanne LaVenture, director of international education at DCCC. “The ability to host Fulbright teaching assistants year after year is an honor not afforded to many colleges. It is an amazing opportunity for our students to learn a language at the hands of native speakers. In addition, these two bright young women will help to ‘internationalize’ the entire DCCC community. Even those not taking their classes can benefit from their contributions.”

For example, Somrani and Diulger will lead Passport Events about their own countries each semester. They'll also be involved in international coffee hours, clubs and other activities. Since both have an interest in music, DCCC may organize a regular “Worldfest,” where students and faculty can gather to learn more about the music traditions of Russia and Tunisia, LaVenture says.

During her time in the U.S., Diulger is considering joining a local church choir, and she is interested in continuing research in an area of interest – African-American culture and poetry – which she could not complete previously due to a lack of materials on the subject in her country. She has been teaching ESL courses in Russia since 2008, but looks forward to perfecting her English skills.

“For any second language teacher it is utterly important to experience living in the country where that language is authentically spoken so you can teach the real living language and not its ‘mothball’ version – an expression of one of my university professors,” Diulger says. “The main reason for me to apply to the FLTA program is the precious opportunity to perfect my English language skills and achieve a high proficiency level so I can teach advanced level students at universities.”

The teaching assistants will live in DCCC’s Green House, an energy efficient home adjacent to campus. Somrani says she is ready to experience the “genuine, suburban American life,” while representing her country in the best way possible.

“This program allows people from around the world to present their native culture and language to the American people, and I think that mutual understanding is what is missing between the U.S and the Arab world,” Somrani said. “Being an Arabic language teacher in the U.S. will bestow upon me the responsibilities of a cultural ambassador of my Arabic identity. And by the end of my journey in the U.S, I hope that my culture and language will be no strangers to Americans.”

Opportunities for the Community to Get Involved:

During the fall semester, Somrani will teach a regular Arabic section (ARA 111 A) as well as Arabic for Beginners Continuing Education, which is currently open to registration from members of the community. The class will teach basic Modern Standard Arabic script and grammar as well as how to handle everyday living situations in an Arabic culture. The class will be held on Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m., from Sept. 9 through Oct. 28. The cost is $20 per person. Those interested in enrolling can register and pay online at http://www.davidsonccc.edu/arabic-beginners.

Diulger will teach a regular section of Russian (RUS 111 A) and will also serve as a teaching assistant in HUM 120, which will focus on Russian culture through film. In the spring, she will teach a continuing education Russian course that will be open to the community.

During International Education Week, Nov. 17-21, Diulger and Somrani will give presentations about their home countries. Somrani will speak about Tunisia at 2 p.m. on Nov. 18, and Diulger will speak about Russia at 11 a.m. on Nov. 20. Both events will be in Reich Auditorium and are open to the public.

*Editor’s Note: Pictured in the photo are Ghada Somrani (left) from Tunis, Tunisia, and Valentina Diulger from St. Petersburg, Russia. They are visiting DCCC for the 2014-2015 academic year as Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and is looking forward to serving students in Davidson and Davie counties for many years to come. The college is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College at davidsonccc.edu.