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India Archer, University of New Mexico

15 Oct 2017

My interest in foreign languages, cultures, and international relations is to what I owe my aspirations to one day work for the United Nations. After doing research, I learned throughout high school that learning Arabic would be the best step for me to take in my further education to aid in my journey to the UN. As a current Junior attending the University of New Mexico, double majoring in Political Science and Pre-Law with a minor in Arabic, I have been taking Arabic classes since my very first semester of college.

During my second semester of Arabic, our class was introduced to a new form of language training and assignments called Talk Abroad. This assignment would included speaking face to face over webcam with another person in an Arabic speaking country about a selected topic currently being discussed in class for 30 minutes.

At first I could not have been more nervous! 30 minutes speaking in Arabic with someone I don’t know, for the conversation to be recorded and critiqued after? I could only imagine how embarrassing of an experience this was going to be. In preparation for the first assignment, as a class we brainstormed different questions we might potentially ask our partner and in return, questions and responses they might ask us based on the topic at the time.

When it came time for my first Talk Abroad assignment, I remember the butterflies I had watching the clock count down the last few seconds before it was time for me to join the conversation with my native Arabic speaking partner. As soon as I saw her appear on my screen, she was not scary, nor intimidating. She was warm and kind, patient, welcoming, and inviting! Though there were many, and I mean MANY times that I stumbled over my words, lost track of my thoughts, and got confused in translation and communication, never once did I feel that my partner did not want to be there talking with me and helping me.

Since then I have had five Talk Abroad assignments each semester. Though listening to the recordings of each conversation can be frustrating and a little embarrassing at times, it is always incredibly helpful to listen and think about the different ways I could have communicated a thought, better understand when translations went wrong, and think about what I could specifically improve on for next time. Now, four semesters later, my Arabic conversation skills have greatly improved and Talk Abroad is a class assignment that I look forward to above all others! I even have a favorite conversation partner whom now I consider to be a friend abroad.

I credit the Talk Abroad community for much of my success in the Arabic language and I know I will continue to utilize their wonderful services in the future. Thank you Talk Abroad!