Morgan Haefner, of Appleton, and Marcus Amato, of Oshkosh, both studied Spanish in middle and high school. Both arrived at the University of Wisconsin–Madison looking for a new language to learn, and both chose Arabic.
Haefner says she “simply went down the list of languages and landed on Arabic. Little did I know what studying the language would mean to me.”
“When I first started, I was interested in Arabic because it seemed vastly different from anything I had studied before,” Amato say, “but after learning the alphabet and the writing system, all of that opacity fell away, revealing a language that is very approachable and fun to learn.”
Gaochsia Xiong and Aiyzah Javaid started studying Japanese as high school students in Eau Claire, and continued their language studies at UW–Madison.
“I had always been interested in the Japanese culture due to watching anime (Japanese cartoons) during my childhood, so I decided to learn it,” says Javaid, who is originally from Pakistan. “Then once I started learning it, I realized I loved it, and I was hooked.”
Xiong took up Japanese to follow in the footsteps of her older sisters. “I thought I would be able to take it and ease through it with the help and knowledge of my sisters.”
Cheyenne Vaughn, of Jackson, Missouri, also had developed an interest in Japanese culture. So, for her freshman year at UW–Madison, she enrolled in a First-year Interest Group (FIG) “about Japanese pop culture and one of the classes was first-semester Japanese. I fell in love with the language.”
This year, these five language learners are sharing their knowledge and passion by tutoring students in three Wisconsin high schools, through videoconferencing and in person. They are among eight UW–Madison undergraduates involved connected through UW–Madison’s Language Institute with language programs at Madison East, Manitowoc Lincoln, and Plymouth high schools.