By Katelyn McBride
Photo credit: Rob Daniel, The Iowa City Press-Citizen 
Ezgi, Rajiv, Ari and Asma—these four young individuals came from different corners of the world to The University of Iowa as Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs) to spread cultural awareness of their unique backgrounds and teach their natives languages of Turkish, Hindi, Indonesian and Arabic.
“International Programs has taken creative approaches to staffing less commonly taught language courses and services,” said Elena Osinsky, FLTA program coordinator for International Programs.
These classes are open to all members of the community, not just UI students.
The FLTAs arrived in August 2010 and will be at the UI through the end of the 2011 spring semester. Besides teaching their languages courses, the FLTAs are taking two classes each at the UI and serving as cultural ambassadors by doing various outreach activities locally.
Ezgi Bahçe, a native of Turkey, enjoys classroom visits and being asked questions about her country – it gives her a better idea of the perceptions people have of Turkey. She notes that the people of Iowa City are very respectful of her and people of other cultures.
Rajiv Ranjan from India developed a video about India that he used in a visit to the senior center. He recently participated in a conference on poverty in India, and he’s been asked to speak about Hinduism and Buddhism in upcoming school visits.
Ari Natarina, an Indonesian native, has been a guest speaker in several history classes, guest at the Weber Elementary United Nations Day, and she recently gave an “Images of the Muslim World” series lecture about the vast diversity in Indonesia.
Asma Ben Romdhane has enjoyed preparing her native Tunisian food for many people to try and visiting people from all over to talk about Tunisia. She says every day in her Arabic language class she introduces students to new things about her culture.
To learn more about participating in an class taught by the FLTAs, or about any other of the unique language learning opportunities available on campus, visit here .
Name: Ezgi Bircan Bahçe
Home country: Turkey
Academic areas of interest: foreign language education, materials design and development, and communicative language teaching
Favorite part of Iowa City: Although it is small, it is possible to find everything you might need. There are malls and small specialty shops. There are many restaurants with a variety of cuisine. It’s great to be a student at the UI. In addition to the great programs and courses it offers, it also provides sports activities and an active social life to the students.
Name: Rajiv Ranjan
Home country: India
Academic areas of interest: Linguistics and English literature and I do compose poetry in Hindi.
Favorite part of Iowa City: My favourite part of Iowa is the libraries (main and public). The number of journals on linguistics in main library and reading space in public library attract me a lot.
Name: Ari Natarina
Home country: Indonesia
Academic areas of interest: language education, linguistics, and translation
Favorite part of Iowa City: Iowa City is my favorite, I love every part of it. I love the public library and the University’s main library. I like to sit around Ped Mall, watching children playing around the fountain. I love my students, and the most important thing is I love the people in this city because they are nice and always helpful.
Name: Asma Ben Romdhane
Home country: Tunisia
Academic areas of interest: I am an MA student in Applied Linguistics at the Higher Institute of Linguages in Tunisia.
Favorite part of Iowa City: I am enjoying everything here. I’m in love with Iowa city!!! I feel lucky to be here. People are so nice to me. They are very kind, talkative, interesting and welcoming. I am happy because I didn’t feel lost here. Elena Osinskaya, Kathryn Henry,Margee Miller, the CIVIC staff, my supervisor, my FLTA friends and of course my lovely roommate Mariana.. all these people make things easier for me and make me feel as if I am with my family.
Support for the FLTAs comes from the Fulbright Program in the U.S. Department of State, International Programs and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For more information, contact the FLTA academic supervisor Kathryn Henry firstname.lastname@example.org or the FLTA program coordinator Elena Osinsky email@example.com .