NYU Abu Dhabi's admissions process for prospective students is both highly competitive and critically important, but the selection of faculty is tantamount. Matching young minds to NYUAD who will most thrive in this environment is as imperative as selecting the academic minds that will best teach them. There is perhaps no better example of this union than Arabic Language Instructor Khulood Kittaneh. "I dreamt of working with an American university, but my heart was in the Middle East," she said. "NYUAD was a perfect fit and I felt at home right away." When hearing about Kittaneh's tremendous success instructing Arabic to foreigners in the Middle East, it is easy to understand how she thrived at the University so quickly.
After studying English literature and linguistics in her native Jordan, Kittaneh obtained a teaching methodology diploma, received her Masters in International Education, and soon after began instructing foreign students, private businesses, and diplomats in both classical and spoken Arabic. This is when something clicked for Kittaneh. "It was my chance to meet people from all over the world. And it was more than just a job — I discovered my passion for teaching Arabic language and culture." From there, her authority in the field progressed rapidly. She began writing books and curriculum for student programs, and several study-abroad institutions and renowned organizations utilized her talents, including AmidEast, American Center for Oriental Research Education (ACOR), and School for International Training (SIT). She even started the Arabic department at Earlham College in the United States. In addition, she developed the Arabic language and culture program for Fulbright students in Jordan through the Qasid Institute in Amman. "I have taught people from all different backgrounds and this is what I love," said Kittaneh.
I have found everyone here to be so open-minded to learn about the language, culture, and politics of the region.
Her work with NYUAD's global student population has been equally rewarding — and successful. This academic year, she has taught no less than six Arabic language courses and has been extremely popular with her students, both feats quite remarkable considering she has been charged with the task of providing the critical foundation in Arabic for so many students. During the fall 2010 semester, she taught two Elementary I classes to students who had no exposure to the Arabic language before their arrival in Abu Dhabi, as well as one Elementary II class for those with limited knowledge. This past spring semester, she continued teaching many of those students by instructing two Elementary II classes and beginning a more challenging Intermediate I course. But Kittaneh was up for the challenge, and she was thrilled that her students were as well. "All of them have been so talented and motivated to learn about both the language and the culture of the region."
Kittaneh's instruction on cultural knowledge extends outside the classroom as well. She acts as advisor to the successful Arabic Language and Culture Club, and has organized weekly meetings with informal discussions in addition to popular outings including Arabic films and dinners. "I have found everyone here to be so open-minded to learn about the language, culture, and politics of the region," said Kittaneh. "This has been my first time in the Gulf too, so just like the students, it's been new for me as well. But it has been like a family with the staff and faculty, and the support from everyone has helped tremendously." In other words, it's been a perfect fit.