Ryann Hubbart is a recipient of the 2022 Global Student Award, which recognizes one undergraduate and one graduate student who are leaders deeply engaged in international education on campus or abroad. Hubbart is an undergraduate student from Clinton, Iowa, double-majoring in international studies and economics and double-minoring in Arabic studies and history.
Learn more about Hubbart’s engagement with international education below.
What experiences, organizations, programs, and/or community involvement in which you have participated have furthered your international education?
Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State | June-August 2022 in Amman, Jordan
I received a critical language scholarship for a fully-funded, intensive Arabic language study for two months in Jordan. My Arabic improved immensely, from both the intensive in-class study for eight hours a day, five days a week, and from excursions outside the classroom, like taking violin lessons downtown and conversing with taxi drivers. Outside of the language, I learned so much about Jordan and the Levant and about the United States and its role in the world, and made amazing, life-long friends!
Studying Arabic at UI | August 2019-present
I began studying Arabic my first year at Iowa and it has without a doubt been the most transformative part of my education at Iowa. In the most obvious sense it opened up to me a whole new linguistic world, but the faculty in the Arabic program were also instrumental in curating my interest in literature, translation, and global decolonial movements and connections.
Arabic Peer Tutor, Student Ambassador, and Conversation Hour Leader | August 2022-Present
As an Arabic Program student ambassador, leader of the Arabic Conversation Hour, and especially as the Arabic peer tutor I have gotten to give to others some of the international education and knowledge I have benefitted from. As a peer tutor I have been able to help other students who are earlier in their Arabic study and in conversation hours, to speak with heritage speakers of Arabic and other Arabic learners to help crystalize our understanding of modern standard Arabic and dialects of Arabic.
Center for Language and Culture Learning, Student Social Media and Marketing Specialist | August 2021-present
I work to engage current and former students with language and cultural learning through in-person events like multilingual karaoke nights and online through photos, videos, and graphics on our social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify). It’s been an amazing and educational job. I get to highlight the knowledge and experience of my peers and myself, and I learn so much in the development of various projects about culture, linguistics, music, literature, poetry, and more. I’ve met and worked with so many incredible and brilliant people in so many departments and places on and off campus and developed a network of international educators and learners.
Translate Iowa Project | August 2022-present
Along with helping the organization run their social media outreach, I will be translating to and from Arabic for the annual publication of Boundless. With the organization I’ve come to appreciate even more the art of translation and the dedication, knowledge, and attention to detail that goes into it. I also get to work with so many incredible students with different language backgrounds and interests.
Iowa City Foreign Relations Council | November 2019-May 2022
I was an intern with the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) for 2 ½ years, assisting in running weekly lectures on international topics for the Iowa City community. When I was still in high school and my older sister was a student at UI, I drove out to Iowa City on a couple of occasions specifically to attend ICFRC lectures! It was ICFRC that first introduced me to the international education on and off campus. From more than 2 ½ years of attending the lectures, I learned so much about the world and current events from local experts.
Iowa Writers Program | Dedicated fan :)
Though I’ve only been a dedicated attendant to all their events, I’ve benefitted immensely from having the Iowa Writers Program on campus. I’ve learned so much and gotten so many new perspectives from the writers and their work over the years. The current fall 2022 cohort have been especially meaningful and impactful to me, as this year’s Arabic-speaking writers have been incredibly generous with their time, always open to meeting and chatting with an Arabic learner.
Other campus or community involvement?
Genuinely everything I can think of that I have been involved in has been a part of my international education!
What is the most valuable thing that you have learned through your international education experiences?
To answer genuinely, and to maybe go against a common theme, I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned is that everyone is the same. We should absolutely be celebrating diversity and different backgrounds and experiences and cultures, but not exoticizing others or forgetting our common humanity. Especially as a student of Arabic, I’m aware of how much the Middle East and North Africa get made out to be foreign, dangerous, monolithic, and other. Even news segments trying to take a ‘positive’ spin fall back on exoticization. So in our personal and public endeavors towards diversity and global awareness, we have to be conscious of questions of power and othering. I think the easiest way to begin to do that is to recognize the commonalities between every culture and society, and the individualism of every individual.
Please share a message to your fellow classmates about the importance of international education.
To limit yourself to your own bubble, whatever that be, is to see only the tiniest piece of the puzzle. The world and its history are beautiful and tragic and connected. You can’t know yourself or your own country and society without looking elsewhere. Take all kinds of classes, and take advantage of the opportunities on campus and in Iowa City to learn about the world. And learn languages! Learning a language at Iowa has been one of the most fulfilling and transformative things I’ve done. While it’s a long-term commitment and takes a while before you begin to feel confident in your language abilities, it gives you the ability to access literatures and histories and cultures and people you wouldn’t know about otherwise.
What are your future academic or career goals?
After graduation I will hopefully return to Amman for a year through the CASA program to continue improving my Arabic skills. Eventually I want to go to graduate school to keep learning about and researching decolonial movements and leaders and their connections around the world, as well as questions of culture and settler colonialism.
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.