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Arabic Language and Culture Initiative (ALCI)

The study of language and culture can bring the youth of nations together—especially given today’s technology and mobility—in a way that nothing else can. In light of the many deep misconceptions and barriers that lie between the United States and Arab peoples and cultures, it is extremely important that youth get as much encouragement and opportunity as possible to communicate across cultures.

The good news is that young people are very interested in the Arab world and eager to learn. College and university enrollments in Arabic in the United States more than tripled between 2002 and 2009 (MLA Language Enrollment Database, 1958-2009). The bad news is that in 2009 only about 1 in 10,000 K-12 students in public schools in the United States was studying Arabic (NCLRC National Survey of Schools Teaching Arabic as a Core Course, 2009). Enrollments in Latin American countries are even lower:  even Brazil, the largest country in Latin America—with a very significant population of Brazilians of Arab descent —does not offer Arabic in any public school.

By 2020, the goal of QFI’s Arabic Language and Culture Initiative is to increase by a factor of five the number of public school students enrolled in Arabic through improved teacher training, access to new curricula and materials, and in some cases direct support to school districts and to expand to other countries all over the world:

·       Increase the number of young people in the Americas with good knowledge and understanding of Arab culture
·       Increase the number and quality of Arabic programs in public middle and secondary schools
·       Increase the supply of highly-qualified teachers of Arabic
·       Support the creation of age-appropriate curricula, learning materials, and assessment mechanisms
·       Use technology to support new curricula, instructional delivery, and teacher collaboration
·       Reward student achievement and offer incentives, such as trips to the Middle East, to heighten the aspirations of students

To this end, QFI is taking the lead and attracting a range of partners to introduce Arabic language and culture into mainstream education. QFI receives guidance in this effort from its Arabic Language and Culture Advisory Group, comprising a number of leading American and Qatari experts.

To date, we have helped the following schools initiate Arabic Language and Culture programs:

·       BibliASPA (Sao Paulo and Curitiba, Brazil)
·       Boston Arts Academy (Boston, Massachusetts)
·       James Campbell High School (Ewa Beach, Hawaii) in cooperation with OneWorld Now!, Seattle
·       Portland Public Schools (Lincoln High and West Sylvan Middle School - Portland, Oregon)
·       Washington Latin Public Charter School (Washington, D.C.)

In addition to introducing Arabic Language and Culture classes to these schools, QFI has facilitated visits to Qatari schools for students studying Arabic in public and public charter schools in the U.S. The visits allow the opportunity for Qatar and American students to connect, participate in cross-disciplinary learnings, and learn more about each other's cultures.  Moreover, it lays the foundations for long-term school partnerships between principals, teachers and students. Learn about their experiences first-hand at The QFI Blog, where participants share their stories on cultural exchange, forging new relationships, learning Arabic, and more. Students from the following U.S. schools have thus far participated in these QFI-facilitated trips:


·       Boston (Mass.) Arts Academy
·       Boston (Mass.) Latin School
·       James Campbell High School (Ewa Beach, Hawaii)
·       Charlestown High School (Boston, Mass.)
·       Chief Sealth International High School (Seattle, Wash.)
·       Cleveland High School (Seattle, Wash.)
·       Dover-Sherborn High School (Dover, Mass.)
·       Franklin High School (Seattle, Wash.)
·       Hingham (Mass.) High School
·       Ingraham High School (Seattle, Wash.)
·       Lincoln Park High School (Chicago, Ill.)
·       Lindblom Math & Science Academy (Chicago, Ill.)
·       Milton (Mass.) High School
·       Washington Latin Public Charter School (Washington, D.C.)

In January 2012, 22 Brazilian high school students and six teachers from our ALCI programs in São Paulo and Curitiba, run in partnership with BibliASPA, participated in our "Brazil to Qatar: One World, Many Stories" exchange program. Teaming up with their counterparts from Qatar Academy and Qatar Leadership Academy, the students explored the culture of Qatar and participated in a National Geographic-run photography camp. To learn more about the visit, please click here.

QFI has also provided 'Education Awards' for summer intensive study of Arabic at Concordia Language Villages, the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy, and the University of Hawaii (in cooperation with OneWorld Now!) to students from:

·       Boston (Mass.) Arts Academy
·       Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (Cambridge, Mass.)
·       James Campbell High School (Ewa Beach, Hawaii)
·       Lincoln High School (Portland, Ore.)
·       Washington Latin Public Charter School (Washington, D.C.)

In addition, QFI supports nongovernmental organizations that offer Arabic language and culture to public school students, many from low-income families:  OneWorld Now! (Seattle), the Global Languages Project (New York City), Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture (Philadelphia), and BibliASPA (Sao Paulo and Curitiba). To learn more about these programs, please visit our Grantees section.


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Profiles in Courage: An Interview with UNHCR

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In summer of 2011, QFI established a partnership with Concordia Language Villages. 31 youth from 20 different schools attended 2 or 4-week sessions at Al Waha, the Arabic Language Village.

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BtoQ Compilation Video

Check out all five "Brazil to Qatar" National Geographic student videos in one compilation.

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"People and Nature" during the BtoQ Exchange

Brazilian and Qatari students worked with National Geographic instructors during the Brazil to Qatar exchange to create a short piece on people and nature.

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A behind the scenes look at the #BtoQ exchange program that brought 22 high school students from Brazil to meet their counterparts in Qatar.

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Learn about students from Chicago's Lindblom Math and Science Academy who went on QFI's exchange trip to Qatar.

Chicago2Doha Media Projects

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Meet our Brazilian students

Arabic Language and Culture in Sao Paolo - meet the Brazilian students and administrators of this program.

Crossing the divide

Watch as students from QFI partner schools in Washington DC and Boston tell their story of language learning and cultural exchange.

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Blog: BtoQ, One World, Many Stories

"It’s amazing to be in a country so far from home, with a different culture and traditions. I make new relationships and the people are very receptive".

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Video: ALCI in Brazil

QFI has partnered with BibliASPA to deliver ALCI in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In this video, you will meet the students of the program and the founder and director of BibliASPA.

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Video: Crossing the Divide

Learning languages and exploring cultures in Washington DC and Boston.

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