­­­­­It was no easy assignment to complete – or language to learn – but after more than 90 online video submissions, and over 55,000 votes tallied, three American students have been named as winners of Qatar Foundation International’s (QFI) I Speak Arabic web contest.

Anderson Wang, from Roseland, New Jersey, and current student at New York University, who submitted a video expressing his love for the Arabic language and his excitement to study Arabic at NYU Abu Dhabi, won QFI’s grand prize, receiving a $500 award and QFI “I Speak Arabic” memorabilia. Teacher Georges Chahwan’s Arabic language students from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, and Sana Rafiq from Watertown, Massachusetts, also received second and third place prizes. In celebration of the diversity of languages across the globe, QFI announced the winners on 16 April, World Languages Day.

Maggie Mitchell Salem, QFI’s Executive Director said:

We have been absolutely thrilled with the level of interest and number of submissions that we received since launching the I Speak Arabic web contest in December. We are proud to announce Anderson, Sana, and the group from Choate High School as winners, all of whom are shining examples of what we at QFI constantly strive for: global citizenship and cultural diversity.’

American students across the country uploaded videos of themselves to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, describing their love of the Arabic language and how Arabic has affected their lives and future goals. Only non-native speakers of Arabic were eligible to enter, and videos were accepted through January of this year. Votes continued to be tallied throughout March, and Anderson Wang, the grand prize winner, received over 20,000 online votes on the ispeakarabic.com/contest platform.

Arabic has seen an explosion of interest among American students over the past decade, as many young people yearn to appreciate a culture that is so often misunderstood in the United States. Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people worldwide, is the fastest-growing second language in the United States, and has helped US students pursue careers in business, journalism, diplomacy, national security, and much more. QFI sees language as a fabric to connect cultures, and has partnered with 24 K-12 public and public charter schools across the country, allowing American students to gain a foothold in the Arabic language from a young age. In addition, QFI supports exceptional high school seniors and undergraduate students to continue the study of Arabic language, at the university level, through QFI’s Arabic Study Awards. In 2015-2016, QFI offered both merit and need-based awards to 28 students who demonstrated academic excellence to further their studies of the Arabic language.

QFI is committed to providing K-12 students in Qatar and the Americas the skills that will enable them to be engaged global citizens by placing young people from diverse social, economic, and cultural backgrounds into effective, collaborative and global learning environments —inside and outside the classroom.

#ISpeakArabic, do you? Visit ispeakarabic.com.