SJSU and exchange students share a meal and conversation at a nearby restaurant.

International Gateways Program Links Arabic Language Students With Native Speakers

SJSU and exchange students share a meal and conversation at a nearby restaurant.

SJSU students studying Arabic meet Kuwaiti students studying English for conversation at a nearby eatery.

By Karen O’Neill, International Gateways Director

In Silicon Valley, we’re accustomed to hearing world languages all around us. On Fridays this summer at the Pomegranate Cafe near campus, there’s an interesting twist to the conversation. Students from the SJSU Arabic Language and Culture program were joined by students from the International Gateways program to share lunch and language.

The SJSU students are in an intensive Arabic language study program; the International Gateways students are in an intensive English language study program. The U.S. students practiced their conversational Arabic with students from Kuwait, while giving the Kuwaitis a chance to use English in an informal setting. Hand gestures seemed to play a big role in getting the message across.

“The American students asked us questions about our experiences to compare between each other,” said Mubarak Ismail, an International Gateways student. “Moreover, they asked about the syllabus and our culture. We shared about the difference between and American and Arabic culture.  Last Sunday, we went hiking for three hours in Santa Cruz with all of them and then we had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.” What a terrific way to get a taste of international cultures and languages!