Northwestern Qatar students awarded language grants

July 15, 2021
A group of Northwestern Qatar students are studying Swahili, Korean, and Spanish this summer, funded through a grant from Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research.
Nadege Bizimungu, Noor Haddad, Nur Munawarah, and Samson Mbogo received the language grants, which support six weeks of language study over the summer.
Bizimungu, a journalism major from Rwanda who plans to report on East Africa after graduation, said that learning Swahili, which is widely spoken within immigrant and marginalized communities in the region will help her report stories that are underrepresented in the English and French media.
“As someone who comes from the region and understands its cultural context, learning Swahili will allow me to tell stories that are authentic to the lived experiences of the people on the ground who are often negatively portrayed in mainstream Western media,” she said.
Haddad, a Yemeni who grew up between Oman, Qatar, and the UAE, said her decision to learn Korean stemmed from her passion for watching Korean dramas and listening to K-pop, which made her want to discover the East Asian country’s culture and media history.
“For a long time, Western culture and literature have shaped the way we look at the world around us,” noted Haddad. “Learning Korean is a chance for me as a media student to explore the world from a new perspective and examine how media and drama are used as a source of soft power.”

An avid soccer fan from Kenya, Samson Mbogo says he has always been interested in examining how soccer, a sport brought to Latin America through European colonialism, has become part of the region’s political and economic landscape. “For many people in Latin America, soccer goes beyond being just a game— it is a passion, a way to get out of poverty, and a tool to exert political influence.”

“I chose to learn Spanish because, during the next two years at NU-Q, I plan to research the roots of sports culture in Latin America and report on the political and cultural impacts of sports  from the perspective of the region’s Spanish-speaking populations.” 

Another grant recipient from Northwestern Qatar is Nur Munawarah, a photographer and visual artist from Singapore who uses her film camera to tell stories of people as she travels the world. For Munawarah, who has been taking an intensive Spanish course for the past six weeks, learning the language of her subjects allows her to capture their stories on a personal level.

Each year, Northwestern University awarded grants to a select group of students to study languages that will broaden their perspective on different cultures and contribute to their academic and professional goals.