Darwish, Sawsan

June 30, 2008, midnight | By Poorna Natarajan | 15 years, 11 months ago

Name: Sawsan Darwish
Department: Foreign Language
Classes: Arabic, ESOL
Education: BA in Linguistics at a university at Jordan/Queens College and Masters in Education at Queens College
Started Teaching: 2007
Previous Jobs: Teacher at Clopper Mill Elementary School
Hobbies: Traveling, watching TV

Wearing a white headscarf and clutching a rolling backpack that follows the short steps of her petite frame, language teacher Sawsan Darwish stands out at Blair. But in just a year, Darwish has managed to merge into the Blair community with her charismatic personality.

After a fantastic first year as teaching ESOL and Arabic at Blair, Sawsan Darwish is excited for the years to come. Photo courtesy of Poorna Natarajan.

For Darwish, teaching at Blair for the past year involved a drastic transition from the previous 13 years she spent as a kindergarten teacher at Clopper Mill Elementary School. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and intimidated, she warmly appreciated the new experience of meeting and teaching students who are no longer three feet in height but sometimes twice her own size. Darwish is satisfied with what her Blair experience has offered and keeps an optimistic outlook for the future. "I'm already excited for the coming year, " says Ms. Darwish.

A foreign language and ESOL teacher, Darwish is motivated to help her students cross the barriers of learning a second language, whether it is English or Arabic - she herself was born and raised abroad. Darwish completed a bachelor's degree in Linguistics at Queens College that she had started at a university in Jordan. She also received a Masters in Education at Queens College. To further her knowledge as an ESOL teacher, Darwish is taking a class at George Washington University called "Bilingual/ESL Teaching." "Sometimes there's a lot of work, but the class is very interesting," remarks Darwish pointing to a stack of study materials she harbors on her desk.

When teaching, she observes differences between schooling in her homeland Jordan and schooling here. "Classrooms here are student-centered. A sort of cooperative learning among the students exists. Students are more active here," Darwish remarks. "At Jordan, the teacher addressed the whole class room; there were less interactions between the teacher and students as there are here."

Darwish also noticed several cultural differences when she moved to the U.S. to further her studies. She found a blend of cultures existed ere, while Jordan had contained a more homogenous ethnicity. "The culture and way of life is very different than it is here," Darwish says.

Her passion for diversity transpires in her love for traveling and exploring the world. Recently, Darwish has visited Germany, Dubai and Canada and each was a magical experience for her. For her traveling is exciting and feels as if it opens her eyes and mind. "It's fun to see new places, different cultures, different ethnicities and expand your knowledge," Darwish says.

Her trip to Germany in particular offered some cultural surprises. "I was surprised to see so many Muslim people. It was nice to see my own culture and a variety of others," Darwish says.

Ultimately, as a language teacher, she has broader goals than simply conjugating verbs. "I would like seeing students communicating in Arabic, understanding and accepting different cultures and removing preconceived notions about people," Darwish explains.

Through her ability to connect with students and appreciate diversity, Darwish has found a place at Blair. "So far I have had great experiences in Blair and I'm looking forward for many more," she says.

Poorna Natarajan. More »

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