George Mason University

News at Mason

Fulbright scholar's Mason experience is 'opportunity for a lifetime'

October 23, 2018   /   by Lydia Antonio-Vila

Haoua Guezguez, from Tunisia, is leading Mason's Arabic Language Exchange Network. Photo provided.

Haoua Guezguez believes that language can bring people together and show them different worlds.

That’s something the Fulbright scholar from Tunisia is trying to do as coordinator of the Arabic Language Exchange Network at George Mason University.

The program, which has received grants from the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, pairs Arabic speakers with students interested in learning the language.

Guezguez’s motivated and outgoing personality makes her the ideal person to lead the initiative, said Nathaniel Greenberg, an assistant professor of Arabic at Mason who created the student-run Arabic Language Exchange Network in 2015.

Guezguez pairs native Arabic speakers with learners to create a more natural, comfortable environment for the students, so they don’t feel the pressure of being graded on their pronunciation.

“She’s been doing a knockout job so far,” Greenberg said. “We are lucky to have her.”

A native of Tunisia, Guezguez graduated in July with a master’s degree in English and international relations from the Higher Institute of Human Sciences of Tunis.

She said she always dreamed of coming to the United States, so when she learned about the Fulbright Scholarship Program on the website of the American Embassy in Tunis, she applied as a foreign language teaching assistant.

Guezguez explained that Mason chose her, as well as two other scholars (one from China, one from Russia) to assist in classrooms and make foreign language learning an easier experience for non-native speakers.

“Language is a very important connector,” Guezguez said. “It allows people to acquire different experiences and develop different opinions.”

Through her time at Mason, she said she has also learned the value of inclusion and receptiveness.

At the end of her yearlong fellowship, Guezguez said she hopes to work at a university in Tunisia and create an organization where students can engage in learning more about the English language.

“This scholarship is experience from which I can grow as a person, learn from my mistakes, appreciate my achievements and, most importantly, seek to reap the benefits of this one-time opportunity for a lifetime,” she said.