by Samantha Fabian
There are currently over 6,000 distinct languages spoken all over the world today, and out of those, at least 350 are spoken in the United States. When it comes to Marian, an array of these various languages are represented within the student body, Arabic being one of them.
With Arabic being the fifth most spoken language in the world, there is no question when it comes to its importance in today’s society. Because of its dominating presence, those who speak Arabic are provided with many advantages. The Marian girls who speak Arabic are able to feel the effects of these advantages, as they are given unparalleled opportunities to connect with a wide variety of people and cultures. This in turn has given them a broader view of the world and opened their minds to new ideas.
Senior Telly Mounto has grown up speaking Arabic ever since she was able to talk. Mounto was brought up speaking Arabic because her family wanted to keep their culture alive in their household and have her be able to communicate with her other relatives. Now, it is “an everyday commutative tool,” Mounto said.
Even at an early age, Mounto was aware that being bilingual was at a huge advantage to her, as it made her unique and gave her a way to set herself apart from others. She notes that living in America has conformed her to typical Western standards, but being able to speak Arabic has allowed her to also stick to her roots and keep her individuality.
“Not everyone can say they can speak Arabic. It’s a very hard language to learn and it automatically distinguishes you,” Mounto said.
Speaking Arabic has also been a way for freshman Wejuic Majok to stick to her roots. Majok’s parents emigrated from Egypt to the United States in 2003 with her family; Majok was only eight months old at the time. Her family came over with very limited knowledge of the English language, so she ended up learning Arabic while simultaneously learning English.
The process of juggling the two languages was challenging for Majok, as her parents were also trying to incorporate Dinka, their native tribal language, into her vocabulary as well. Despite the early struggles, Majok is glad to have grown up in an Arabic speaking household, as she is now able to reap the benefits from speaking Arabic.
Majok has been able to form friendships with other Arabic speakers because of their mutual understanding of the language. Majok has also been able to connect with people in the Omaha community by attending Sudanese mass with other Arabic speakers.
Despite Majok never receiving formal training in Arabic, she plans to do so in the future so that she is able to read and write in Arabic. Along with becoming literate, she also wants to take formal classes so that she is able to pass down the language to her children in hopes that they are able to appreciate their heritage and background as much as she has.
Just as Mounto and Majok did, Sophomore Agoum Monydhel also grew up speaking Arabic, as both of her parents originated from Sudan. With Arabic being her first language, she didn’t begin to speak English until she was placed into English as a Second Language (ESL) classes as a kindergartener.
“Learning English was very difficult for me, because at the time I was entering the kindergarten with little English,” Monydhel said. “It wasn’t enough for me to enter the reading class, so learning English was a difficult task. However, Arabic just grew on me. I was hearing it all the time at home, so it was just acquired.”
Monydhel appreciates being able to speak both English and Arabic because it allows her to communicate with her relatives living in Sudan. Whether it is with her cousins or strangers in a supermarket, Monydhel admits that speaking Arabic has presented her with more opportunities to connect with a plethora of people and encounter more diverse cultures than if she were monolingual.
So, whether it be Arabic or one of the other 350 languages spoken in the United States, it is important to remember that learning a new language can open up new doors of opportunity and leave a trail of lasting impacts.