Becoming a U.S. citizen last year was “a dream come true” for Washtenaw Community College Faculty Member Dr. Sabri Hummadi Alhussein.
After teaching for more than 25 years, Alhussein – along with his wife and three children – left war-torn Iraq and immigrated to Yemen back in 1999.
Ten years later, Alhussein and his family found themselves packing their things yet again. This time, they would be leaving the Middle East altogether and traveling more than 8,000 miles to start a new life in the U.S. when the opportunity for Alhussein to teach Arabic at WCC came along.
“The transition was difficult at first, but everyone at WCC has been welcoming and accepting,” Alhussein said. “Here, you have the freedom to write about whatever you want. As a writer and teacher, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”
Alhussein has taught at WCC for five years now, but in Iraq, he served as Lecturer, Assistant Professor and Professor of Arabic Literature at Mosul University for 12 years. During the 10 years he spent in Yemen, he was Chair of the Arabic Department and Dean of the Arts Faculty at Thamar University. Over the course of his career, he’s written and published 12 books in Modern Arabic Literature.
What’s even more impressive is Alhussein’s dedication to his students. “I’ve been lucky to have such great students. They’re eager to learn and they ask questions,” he said while flipping through student evaluations from previous semesters. “There’s value in learning a foreign language, especially considering how the world is becoming more diverse every day.”
One may think that learning Arabic is reserved for those who’ve never heard or spoken a word of the language before in their life, but that isn’t the case.
“Many Arab students are born in America but cannot speak the language,” Alhussein said. “Learning Arabic helps them feel more connected to their heritage.”
Alhussein says that even non-Arab students can benefit from learning the language, especially because there is a large Arab population in southeast Michigan. In fact, he’s advocating that all four semesters of Arabic be taught at the college. As of now, WCC only offers two semesters, but Alhussein remains determined to make that happen in the near future.
“It’s an honor to be in America teaching my native language to so many open-minded individuals,” Alhussein said. “From what I’ve seen during my time here at WCC so far, I think there’s a great future for the Arabic language.”