We met with Yvette Easton. Yvette is from Boston, USA and she is a student at Westwood High School. In an interview with Yvette, we asked her the following questions:
Tell us about yourself
My name is Yvette Easton and I am a Freshman in high school. I have a strong passion for learning languages; I am taking Latin & French in school, and I learn Arabic at the Center for Arabic Culture in Boston. As a straight-A student in all my classes, I want to keep my possibilities endless and open. Being a confident, hardworking, strong, genuine individual creates a solid platform for my future career, whatever that may be. I dream of going to Harvard University, as my dad attended there for his under-graduate Bachelor’s degree. Currently, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I am working for CAC as the Assistant Curriculum Director. This helps me continue to develop my Arabic language skills, and brush up on old techniques.
How long have you been studying Arabic? What is your current level?
I became familiar with the spoken portion of the language early on because my mom is originally from Syria. Growing up 3/4 Arab, most of our car rides are filled with Arabic conversations and traditional music. I wanted to go farther and learn how to read and write in Arabic; this brought me to the Center for Arabic Culture in Boston. Currently, I have been thoroughly studying the language for seven years at the Center.
What made you decide to study the Arabic language and culture? What & who inspired you? What were your motivations?
Growing up I heard Arabic conversations whenever we visited my mom’s side of the family. I was fascinated by the rich culture centered around family, food, music, and laughter. I wanted to connect with them, which further influenced my decision to start learning the language.
Have you had any ups and downs while learning Arabic?
At times learning Arabic was frustrating because I couldn’t use the language on a daily basis with other friends at school, sports, etc. However, one of the many highlights was the look my classmates in Social Studies class had on their faces when I wrote all their names in Arabic on the white board.
What does it take to become an excellent student of Arabic? What recommendations would you give to anyone interested in learning Arabic?
Instead of scheduling a set time for learning, try to make Arabic part of your life. Although it may seem difficult in the beginning, continue to immerse yourself in the Arabic culture to familiarize and connect the lessons to everyday lifestyles. Also, for studying specific vocabulary, I highly suggest quizlets and index cards because repeating vocab words helps the brain remember them. Finally, don’t be afraid to expand on what you know in a conversation, even if you have to use some English words in your sentences.
What careers are you planning to pursue (or have embarked on) using your Arabic language skills?
I am unsure of my career goals at this point, but have a large interest in using my variety of language skills to hopefully connect with people from the Middle East, and advocate for human rights.
Quick Wee Questions
What’s your favourite Arabic word?
My favorite arabic word would be جميلة because you can call almost anything beautiful; animals, plants, people, even food!
What is your least favourite Arabic word? Why?
My least favorite Arabic word would probably be لبن versus لبنة because I tend to get them confused :).
Who’s your most inspiring Arab personality?
I love poetry in general, so Nizar Qabbani is one of my favorites. He is well-known, and famous for his variety of topics, including romance, education, and women.
What is your favourite place in the Arab World?
Although I have not yet had the chance to visit an Arab country, I hope to travel to Syria and Lebanon one day.
What is your favourite Arabic quote?
The most inspiring quote that I have on my bulletin board is from a famous Lebanese philosopher, poet, and artist, named Gibran Khalil Gibran. He said, “الجمال ليس في الوجه. الجمال جمال القلب” meaning “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart”.
What is your favourite Arabic book? Why?
My favorite Arabic book is The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine. It revolves around a 17 year old girl named Faten, who learns how to fight for her education, freedom, and equality. She sets her goals and works toward them with determination until she achieves what she wants.
What is your favourite Arab dish? Why?
I love grape leaves (ورق دوالي) with hushweh (حشوة)! It is a delicious platter, and very fun to make. It reminds me of our big family gathering with my جدي (grandpa) in Indiana.