Fulbright Scholar experiences many firsts at ISU

January 21, 2011

For Inas Nosir, being a Fulbright scholar at Indiana State University has been one first experience after another.

"I had never seen a dining hall before," said Nosir, who teaches Arabic at ISU and is from Egypt. "I never knew about the syllabus before. We didn't have that in my country."

Though she had never used a computer with a projector before teaching at ISU, Nosir has become quite accustomed to using them.

"I love the smart screen. I use it in all the classes," she said. "I don't know what I'm going to do when I go back to Egypt."

With the projector, Nosir is able to use videos and sound clips in her classes.

"I can bring them the world," Nosir said. "It's so amazing, especially in teaching languages."

Through the Fulbright Scholar Program, Nosir takes four master's level classes at Indiana State, teaches Arabic and receives funding for housing, transportation, food and a living stipend. She is required to take one class about American studies, but the others can be about any topic. In the fall semester, she took classes American folklore and teaching methods. This semester she is taking classes in phonetics and phonology and applied teaching English as a second language.

"The first goal of what I do here is teach Arabic, but I am also a cultural ambassador," she said.

She gives presentations for various organizations on campus and in the community. In December, she attended a conference in Washington, D.C. and gave presentations to other Fulbright scholars about her experiences at Indiana State and in the United States.

Nosir wanted to be a Fulbright Scholar because she wanted to travel, to see the places that are showcased in movies, and at the same time, continue teaching, which is what she did in Egypt.

"I love traveling and the idea of Fulbright is that. I had never traveled before, and I thought, ‘I can't miss this,'" she said. "You've been in a country so long that it makes you want to explore and meet friends from the whole world. My life was nothing before this year. I love this year."

While looking for opportunities to share her culture with others, she's also embraced learning about American culture.

At Indiana State, Nosir has experienced her first live soccer game and volleyball match. In fact, she joined the African Club and learned to play rugby.

"The idea of girls to play sports is not common in my city," Nosir said.

Nosir had never visited the United States before arriving for the program, so she is determined to make the most of her stay.

"I'm only here for a year, so I don't say no to any invitation," she said. "I don't want to miss anything."

In Egypt, fast food is a treat. At ISU, Nosir has access to fast food all the time. Since arriving at Indiana State, Nosir has tasted and fallen in love with many new foods, including chicken alfredo at Pizza Hut.

"The problem is they have the most amazing pasta I've ever ate," she said. "I love fast food. Maybe the problem is I'm gaining weight. I was treating myself every day until I got fat."

She has also tasted Chinese food, which she enjoyed immensely. Her favorite dishes include anything with noodles.

"It was the first time for me to try Chinese food. It's the best thing ever," she said. "I love using chopsticks."

When visiting a friend's family, Nosir was invited to try roasting and eating a marshmallow, something she didn't know existed. She thought the act of roasting the marshmallow seemed somewhat childish, but the gooey marshmallow was an interesting treat.

"It was so weird," she said. "I was like, ‘Okay. So everybody does that. Cool.'"

The vegetables in America, though, are not something Nosir finds acceptable. In Egypt, she ate vegetables with everything, but not here.

"They used to be very tasty in Egypt because we use lots of spices," she said.

She thinks the vegetables in the U.S. are too bland, but she has gotten used to them over time.

Because she is willing to try anything, Nosir said she has had met many people and been able to see how they live.

"I like the diversity of cultures," she said. "I met people from everywhere. I love how we have all the cultures here."

In her first-time experiences, Nosir has noticed some similarities, especially in the way she has been treated as a guest in friends' homes. In Egypt, guests are given the best of everything, including beds and food. Guests are not allowed to wash dishes or do any work around the house. Nosir was surprised when she was treated in much the same way at a friend's house.

"I thought we were the only ones who do that for their guests," she said. "You're just like us in Egypt."

She has been welcomed by everyone she has met, including her students, whom she claims are "the best of the best."

"This year has changed my life. In Egypt I wasn't so outgoing. I've 100 percent changed," she said. "Every day I learn something entirely new-a word in a new language, new technology, something about American culture or another culture."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Arabic-Class/DSC5013ArabicClass/1116756271_cdxxp-D.jpg
Inas Nosir teaches an Arabic class at Indiana State. ISU Photo

Contact: Inas Nosir, Fulbright scholar and Arabic teaching assistant, Indiana State University, inosir@indstate.edu

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or lschrock1@indstate.edu