With a passion for languages, senior Sydnie McCormick is taking three language classes plus studying another language on her own to become fluent and knowledgeable in their perspective cultures.
“I am fluent in French and learning Spanish, German, and Arabic on the side,” McCormick said.
McCormick says that her favorite language is French.
“It was the first language I learned,” McCormick said. “I just instantly fell in love with it. I put in a lot of effort.”
However, McCormick says that she doesn’t like learning languages, as much as speaking them.
“I love speaking all these languages,” McCormick said. “It’s the after result that motivates me to learn.”
While searching for places to study in France with an emphasis on Middle Eastern studies, McCormick came across the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y).
“I knew that I was going to study Arabic at the university level for my future career,” she said. “So I figured the NSLI-Y program would give me a head start.”
After a brief orientation in Washington, D.C. in June, McCormick went to Amman, Jordan for seven weeks. Upon arrival, McCormick observed that the roles were completely reversed in Jordan
“In America I’m about as majority as one can get,” she said. “In Jordan, I was foreign and very much a minority. It was surreal to have such a change of perspective.”
While in Amman, McCormick lived with a host family different from her own.
“I lived with two elderly sisters who never left the house,” she said. “I remember sitting with them on the veranda after classes. We always drank tea and talked about the people we saw crossing the street below.”
McCormick says that everything didn’t go as expected.
“It was very strange when I was walking down the streets,” she said. “People were stopping their cars to stare at me.”
The opportunity to travel to Jordan to immerse herself in the Arab culture was an experience she’ll never forget she says.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said. “It changed my life.”
CHRISTIAN DEBRUIN is a junior at Guyer High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” program for student journalists.