Student News

Natalie Martin receives FLAS fellowship to study Arabic in Jordan

Natalie Martin, a master’s student in Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy, recently received a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship to study Arabic and relevant area studies courses in Jordan for the 2008-2009 academic year. The award includes tuition and fees, health insurance and a living stipend. 

Martin’s ties to the Middle Eastern country are strong.  Upon graduating from Whitman College in Washington State, she moved to Jordan in 2005 to teach fourth- and fifth-grade English at an independent bilingual school, beginning her career in ESL (English as a Second Language) education. She traveled that year to Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon and was struck by the hospitality of the region’s people. These experiences changed her outlook on the Middle East and inspired her to learn more about Arabic and the Arab culture. While in Jordan, she met her husband, with whom she shares a passion for Middle East-focused research.

Currently, Martin is taking a course in Standard Arabic at UNC-Chapel Hill and is planning to write her master’s thesis on ESL for Arabic-speaking students. As an ESL teacher, Martin believes it is important to have an understanding of the linguistic and cultural background of her students.  For this reason, she hopes the FLAS fellowship will allow her to become more culturally competent. 

Upon graduation from the School, Martin hopes to work in either the United Arab Emirates or Qatar where she can continue her research of the Arab world. After several years abroad, she would like to return to the United States, proficient in Arabic and better able to serve Arabic-speaking students.

The FLAS fellowship is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered at UNC-Chapel Hill by the Center for Global Initiatives. The program provides academic year and summer fellowships to institutions of higher education to assist graduate students in foreign language in either area or international studies. The goals of the fellowship program are to assist in the development of knowledge, resources, and trained personnel for modern foreign language and area/international studies; to stimulate the attainment of foreign language acquisition and fluency; and to develop a pool of international experts to meet national needs.