Once a month, students at Central Junior High in Bedford practice speaking Arabic with a teacher 5,000 miles away -- in Morocco. The students in Tamara Haddad's class ask Bilal Douass via Skype questions about Moroccan life, teaching and his poetry.
Yes, Douass is also a poet. He writes mostly romantic poems in Classical Arabic as well as Moroccan and Egyptian dialects. Haddad reached out to Douass about the cross-cultural experiment on Facebook and, so far, the students seem to be enjoying the virtual interaction. They've also had a chance to meet and talk with Douass' students.
More than 73 languages are spoken in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district. The parents of students in Haddad's class hail from places like Ethiopia and Bangladesh. Haddad is originally from Jordan.
For student Zarah Jamaluddin, whose parents are from Bangladesh, the experiment has also broken down barriers within their own school.
"Some of the students know Arabic better than English, so the language is helping us connect to them and we actually learn more about how they lived before ... "