The Modern Linguist
Faculty Spotlight

Eye on Alumni
A View from Abroad
Scripture of the Month

Faculty Spotlight

Lobna Saeed
Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant

Lobna SaeedJoin us in giving a warm welcome to Lobna, who is teaching Arabic at Whitworth for the 2013-14 academic year. Lobna shares the adjunct office in Westminster 214 – do stop by and say hello!

If you had to describe your background in two sentences, what would you say?
I come from Cairo, Egypt – it's a North African, Arabic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nation. I have a B.A. in English from Cairo University, and I originally worked as an elementary school English teacher.

What are some culture-shock moments?
I am fully aware of the American culture, so I wouldn't say I was culture shocked, but there are a few things that are different. First and foremost, the traffic – I come from a big and crowded city, so moving into a small town has its perks (rush hour = no such thing). However, I was confused by all the traffic lights, especially the pedestrian ones. I didn't know how to cross the streets the first two weeks I was here! There's also the DIY rule, the obsession with recycling, and the educational system.

Cultural misconceptions for you? About you?
I come from the Middle East, one of the most unstable regions in the world, so it's easy to say there's a mutual misunderstanding between Americans and Arabs. At first I was worried about being preconceived as a threat or as a radical ignorant who still lives in the Dark Ages. I had that notion from the media as we are rarely depicted in a positive way, and I was afraid I was going to be treated badly. But ever since I arrived, the sweeping majority have been warm and friendly, and I have gained a new perspective. As for the misconceptions about me, I don't think there were any regarding me as an individual, but it was regarding my culture as a whole (thanks to the media).

Why did you decide to do the Fulbright program?
Fulbright is an exchange program. I get to be a cultural ambassador. I get to meet new people from different cultures and backgrounds. I get to represent my own culture and country, clear any kind of misconceptions and gain new, rich experiences to share. I also needed to go on a self-discovery adventure where I get to grow and develop on spiritual, social and academic levels.

What is your favorite part of teaching Arabic?
My favorite part has been the realization of how beautiful and rich this language is. I have always taken for granted that Arabic is my native language, and teaching it has made me realize how proud I am and blessed to be an Arabic speaker. Also, it's great to share your native language with non-native speakers as you get to share the culture as well, which makes my class far more interesting.

What's your favorite American food and what food do you most miss from Egypt?
I like the pie—all kind of pies. I also like donuts and a variety of snacks. I miss everything; Middle Eastern food is full of love and different flavors.

Can you recommend a song or singer in Arabic and explain why we should listen to him or her?
Om Kalthoum is my favorite singer. She is the most famous and popular singer in the Arab world. No one can replace her even though she's been gone for 38 years; she's still the best, her music is timeless. She has the best music, lyrics and hands-down the best vocals. She's the reason I don't feel homesick – I listen to her every day. You can just turn her music on and sit around doing nothing but indulging in it. There is also Fairuz and Abdelhaleem Hafez; they have the same effect on me.

Eye on Alumni

Kylie Grader, '12, Spanish and International Business Double Major

Kylie GraderI began an internship at Yobel International 13 months ago. Yobel is an international development organization whose model depends on global friendships and eager learners. Currently, we are writing our own entrepreneur, biblical and creativity curriculums. These training tools are being shaped by our friends around the globe – by their needs, their communities and their hearts. We have the privilege of being in relationship with people in Uganda, Mexico, Costa Rica, India and Pakistan, gaining new friends each year. We visit each community with our knowledge in entrepreneurship, dreaming big, tailoring, product development, and the love of Jesus. Yet we often leave having been blessed deeply by their knowledge of hardship, love and perseverance.

India was by far the darkest, scariest, loneliest place I have witnessed in all of my travels. Yet in the midst of despair, I was gifted with pure hope and joy. In the middle of the largest red-light district in Kolkata, we spent our days working with women whose family business is selling their bodies for mere coins. I was proved wrong when I decided there would be no joy for these women. I was proved wrong by a favorite childhood game: rock-paper-scissors.

Kylie GraderThis was one of the most beautiful moments I could have asked for. We were warned that games can be difficult to translate and that they may not get into it, so to keep it simple. We decided that 'monkey-banana-hunter' (full-bodied rock-paper-scissors) was the best option. So, as we began playing, the girls were laughing and acting out the characters with full force, understanding the game and the joy that comes with it immediately. We were able to bring something across cultures, to relieve their day-to-day hurts and hardships, and to show them what it means to play. Those 15 minutes of game time made the travel, the discomfort and the disgust worth everything.

To learn more about Yobel and what life has looked like for me after Whitworth, you can follow my blog,, or go to and

A View from Abroad

Reflections from Katie Tassan, '15, Spanish and Speech Communication Double Major

Katie TassanSaludos desde Valparaíso, Chile, la joya del pacífico!
(Greetings from Valparaíso, Chile, the jewel of the Pacific!)

The term "jewel of the Pacific" was coined by Víctor Acosta, who wrote Joya del pacífico, a song written in tribute to Valparaíso, the city where I have been living and studying for the past eight months. When I arrived here in February 2013, I felt overwhelmed and a bit unsure if I had made the right decision to spend a year abroad. It took me a couple of months to adjust, but after that, I began to find my place in my new life here, and I must say that I have learned and grown more than I ever could have imagined. The experiences I have had have shaped me significantly, and most importantly, have profoundly matured my faith. I think one of the most important things I have learned during my time here is that only good things can result when one puts Christ first: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

About four months before my departure from the States, I did some online research of churches in Valparaíso, hoping to find a good fit. My roommate's friend had studied here and recommended a church for me. I immediately checked it out online, and it looked like a perfect fit. I wrote the church an e-mail, mentioning that I was looking forward to visiting, and no more than half an hour later I got a response from a woman who would eventually be my host mom. We e-mailed back and forth over the course of those four months, and I ended up requesting her and her husband as my host family. It was a wonderful experience meeting them and their 2-year-old daughter face-to-face after months of e-mail exchanges and talking on Skype. Without a doubt, the best part of my experience in Chile has been my host family and my extended church family; both have been welcoming, accepting, gracious, and very patient with my understanding of Chilean Spanish, which is quite the language in itself. I happen to be the only gringa in the entire church, so I have become used to the feeling of being the minority. I don't think there is a better way to get to know a culture other than living in and interacting with those who are a part of it.

Aside from spending time with my host and church family, I dedicate my time to studies. Educación in Chile is a very hot topic. For the past three years, there have been many student movements and protests for Educación gratuita y de calidad, or "Free and quality education." I would say that the vast majority of Chileans believe education to be a right, especially because before Chile's military dictatorship, in 1971, it was free. In fact, sometimes Chilean universities go on strike. The international student office is always working around this conflict. Last semester wasn't very political until the very end, but this semester, the administrators hired professors who normally teach Chileans to teach classes for us exchange students.

I would like to encourage any of you who are thinking about going abroad to just go for it, wherever the destination may be. You will get just as much out of the experience as what you put into it, so keep an open mind; your thinking will expand, and you will learn so much about yourself. As for me, I hope to return to Chile after I graduate from Whitworth. I am not exactly sure what that might look like (maybe a year or two, maybe longer), but I have been praying for God's guidance in that. In the meantime I will be enjoying the two-and-a-half months I have left in Chile, soaking up the warm weather before heading back to Whitworth and a snow-white Narnian winter this coming Jan Term.

Announcements and Upcoming Events

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Salsa Event a Hit!
Over 60 Whitworth students learned to salsa dance on October 3 at the WLC department event and had a wonderful time. Thanks, José Rojas!

Sale Sale

2014-15 Applications Available from

  • Boren Scholarships and Fellowships for International Study
    Boren Awards, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study in Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East, where students can add important international and language components to their educations.
  • African Languages Initiative for French and Swahili
    For applicants who are at an intermediate-high or above proficiency. For a full explanation of the African Languages Initiative, look under "Announcements" on the left side of the Boren Awards page.

Critical Languages Scholarship (CLS) Program
This program offers fully funded summer language institutes for U.S. university students and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The program is offered in 13 critical languages at 20 locations around the globe. Languages include Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian. For more information, speak to Whitworth's CLS Alumni Ambassadors, student Will Pollock, '14, and Assistant Professor of Economics & Business Todd Friends, or visit

Two GAANN Grants Available at Middle Tennessee State University for Spring 2014 (Possibly Fall 2014)
Students pursuing an M.A.T. in French, German or Spanish may apply. Candidates should fill out an application for the Master of Arts in Teaching Foreign Languages program, as well as the FAFSA. MTSU's graduate faculty chooses the fellows late in the fall semester. If the fellowships don't open this spring, they will open in fall 2014. If you have further questions, contact Joan McRae, Ph.D., chair, department of foreign languages & literature:

Tutoring: All Levels – FREE; Walk-ins Are Always Welcome!
Review grammar, check homework, review for tests, get help with proofreading and editing papers, and practice your conversational abilities.

  • French
    Every Sunday and Thursday, 8-9 p.m. in Westminster 113
  • German
    Monday afternoons, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in Library 208 (across from Composition Commons)
  • Spanish
    Five nights a week: Sun/Tues/Thurs, from 7-9 p.m.; Mon/Wed, from 7-8 p.m., in Library 208 (across from Composition Commons)

DELE Exam: Fall 2013
The DELE (Diploma in Spanish as a Foreign Language) examination will be held at Whitworth on Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23. Registration is now closed. See Stacey Moo or Ángeles Aller if you have questions or would like information about future test dates.

All Spanish majors are required to take either the DELE or the ACTFL OPI.

Please visit the Seattle Cervantes website for general information about the DELE. You can also download registration documents, or take a level-check or practice test:

Costa Rica Center
It's not too late to apply for spring 2014 at the Costa Rica Center! Contact CRC faculty liaison Kim Hernandez,, or CRC recruiter Rachel Witthuhn,, for more information.

The CRC summer 2014 program will feature business classes taught by Vange Ocasio and Margie LaShaw. Spanish courses and internships will also be available. Summer applications will be opening soon!

Community-Based Theatre in Costa Rica – May 2014! Come join this incredible May Term program at the CRC! Applications are open and will close Nov. 4. Stop by Hendrick 118 or Cowles Auditorium 105 to pick up an application.

Scripture of the Month

English: Psalm 51:10
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Arabic: المزامير51:10
. وَرُوحاً صَحِيحَةً وَمُسْتَقِيمَةً جَدِّدْ فِي داخِلِ قَلباً طاهِراً يا اللهُ ضَعْ فِيَّ،

Chinese: 诗篇 51:10 神啊!

French: Psaume 51:10
O Dieu! crée en moi un coeur pur, renouvelle en moi un esprit bien disposé.

German: Psalm 51:10
Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein reines Herz, und gib mir einen neuen, beständigen Geist.

Hebrew: תהילים 51:10
תַּ֭שְׁמִיעֵנִי שָׂשֹׂ֣ון וְשִׂמְחָ֑ה תָּ֝גֵ֗לְנָה עֲצָמֹ֥ות דִּכִּֽיתָ׃

Japanese: 诗篇 51:10
神啊! 求你为我造清洁的心,使我里面重新有正直的灵。

Spanish: Salmos 51:10
Crea en mí, oh Dios, un corazón limpio, y renueva la firmeza de mi espíritu.

Swahili: Zaburi 51.10:
Ee Mungu, uniumbie moyo safi, uifanye upya roho iliyotulia ndani yangu.

Vol. 20 Issue 2 Nov. 2013

The Modern Linguist was birthed from the desire to unite those who study in the world languages discipline at Whitworth University. The newsletter features information, news and stories applicable to those involved in the program. Let it serve you well.

World Languages & Cultures Department
Westminster Hall
Whitworth University
Phone: 509.777.4765
Department Chair and Editor-in-Chief: Jennifer Brown
Editor: Stacey Moo
For student employment information, please contact Stacey Moo, program assistant, at 509.777.4765

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