This article is one of a series of posts dedicated to our latest project, Humans of La Tour. Inspired by the successful Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton, Humans of La Tour is comprised of a series of journalistic portraits created by the Journalism students at La Tour. They seek to highlight a few of the many people who make up the La Tour community: those we see every day as our professors and classmates, as well as those whose hard work and dedication keep the school running smoothly on a daily basis.
Each portrait was created by an Anglophone Section student in Ms. Temple’s Journalism Elective as part of their final project for the Spring Semester 2021.
By Alexandre Rollet (2EA)
La Tour provides a wide selection of languages to its student body thanks to its language programs, La Tour du Monde and the Anglophone Section. Each student can choose what language they wish to learn, ranging from European languages to languages of Eastern Asia… so you can imagine that there is a lot to choose from! To add to the variety of languages that La Tour offers, another language was added to the list a few years ago: Arabic. This language adds diversity to the selection and allows students to learn about different cultures in the Arabic-speaking world. Here are some highlights from the interview I did with Mrs. Aya Amasheh, La Tour’s first Arabic teacher who began teaching here six years ago in 2015.
Mrs. Amasheh is from Palestine. She completed a Masters degree in translation in Paris and in Lyon, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in her home country. Studying French gave her the opportunity to move to France later on for work, and today, she speaks French very well. When asked how she came to La Tour, she says that “it was only by coincidence that [she] knew about La Tour, as they were looking for an Arabic teacher at the time, and [she] was still in university.”
The cultures in France and Palestine are very different, which makes the exchange between the two countries a very rich experience. “Paris is amazing, you can’t put words to describe Paris (…) I like the independence and being able to travel,” she says. Having done many studies in translation in cities like Lyon, she also worked in Palestine before coming to France: “I worked with an American organization, USAID, and I loved that work because it was field work, going and helping clinics in remote villages.” The opportunity of being able to work in Palestine with organizations like these allowed Ms. Amasheh to get closer to areas of her country that are more remote, and which is exactly what Mrs. Amasheh did, investing her time to help her country. “Other than that, my life in Palestine was like any other person’s life, you go out with friends and family, there are restaurants, and the weather is better than in France!” Since France is a different setting for her at the time, discovering French cities and being able to study here was a very enriching experience for her.
Mrs. Amasheh loves working at La Tour. She enjoys the fact that it is a Catholic school that teaches Arabic: “It helps me to better represent the Arab world without prejudices.” Transmitting her own language is also an element that is fulfilling and communicating with students is very enriching. Lockdown had some impact on teaching: “It was really challenging, teaching a language online is not easy at all.” The interaction with students is limited and it is more difficult to give lessons. “Especially with beginners, teaching them how to read and write was impossible.” This proves that social interactions between students and teachers is important at school, something that Mrs. Amasheh truly enjoys.
To conclude, Arabic lessons at La Tour allows students to learn one of the most spoken languages in the world while simultaneously allowing them to discover the cultures of the Arabic-speaking world, taught by Mrs. Amasheh, who deeply enjoys the enriching experience of teaching the language.