We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

← Back to all stories
Photo ofRami Wetti

At the age of six, my parents wanted me to learn Arabic but I wasn’t excited to learn. I thought learning a new language might be too difficult. I knew it would be difficult to learn new words and pronunciation in Arabic, yet I knew I should learn a language my family speaks daily so I could be included in their everyday conversation.  My parents enrolled me in a school that taught Arabic. From the outset, I was frustrated because I didn’t want to spend my weekends learning Arabic when I could do something fun. Furthermore, there was a lot of stress associated with learning a new language. The kids in my class were the same age; however, they had more experience with the Arabic language and they knew how to communicate. Immediately I felt lost and insecure.  I didn’t know where to begin since I had zero knowledge about Arabic. I knew I had to invest my time and energy in it to achieve positive results and be just like those kids in my class. I had zero confidence in participating in class, but then I met a kid at lunch who was just like me. He had zero knowledge about the language and was also trying to learn it. We bonded by complaining about being in school on the weekends instead of staying home. After the lunch break, we decided to sit next to each other. The teach- er started talking and we did not understand what was being said but I felt more comfortable since I was not the only one who felt this way. As the weeks passed, I started learning the Arabic alphabet and I tried to spell and write what I was learning.  I was not only learning and getting help from my teacher, but my parents were also helping me by talking to me every day in Arabic. They used their free time to help me learn new things that I wasn’t taught in class, and this helped me get ahead of other students. Eventually, I started feeling more confident and enthusiastic because, for the first time, I felt I wasn’t different from the other kids in class. I felt that we were equal and I could finally talk to them and understand what they were talking about.  As I started getting more experience with the language, I discovered the Arabic language has nothing in common with the English language. The letters, pronunciations, and even where to start writing were different. After months of practice with this new language, I was no longer frustrated and found myself wanting to learn more because it was fun and interesting to learn.  Learning something new or different feels hard sometimes because the brain is adjusting to something new. When I first learned Arabic I thought it was difficult but as I got used to it became easier and I felt more confident. Most importantly, I can communicate in Arabic with my family now, making our bond even stronger. 

© Rami Wetti. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.