The importance of American students being prepared for the emerging global economy is driving a new exchange program which places teachers from such countries as Egypt and China into U.S. classrooms where they teach about their respective culture and language.
Hailing from Egypt, Tamer Elsharkawy is currently teaching at an elementary school in Washington D.C. where he gives Arabic lessons to the younger students and teaches the older students about Arab culture and his Muslim faith. On his lessons about the traditional Egyptian Jellabiya (a single piece of clothing that covers the whole body), Mr. Elsharkawy remarks, “One day, these kids would see someone wearing a Jellabiya, and the first thing that would come to their mind is the stereotypes they see on TV. [Instead], their minds will go to their teacher who they loved and respected who wore it.”
“We know the power of teaching world languages early and helping our students to learn and appreciate cultures around the world,” says Brian Pick, the school system’s chief of teaching and learning. “Teachers like Tamer Elsharkawy are helping their students become global citizens and setting a foundation for a love of languages and culture early.”