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WKU’s Maggie Lewis chosen for QatarDebate Elite Academy; only non-native Arabic speaker selected from USA

Western Kentucky University senior Maggie Lewis of Shepherdsville has been selected to join the QatarDebate Elite Academy.

“I couldn’t feel more privileged, honored or excited to take on such a unique and challenging opportunity,” said Lewis, an Arabic major and 2018 graduate of The Gatton Academy. “Being selected to be part of QatarDebate’s Elite Academy is something that I never anticipated I could achieve in the past but it is also something that will help me achieve my goals and dreams in the future.

“I am eagerly awaiting this adventure and the new colleagues, Arabic speakers and friends that the Elite Academy will allow me to be able to meet. It is going to be a challenge, considering I am not a native speaker, but it is a challenge that I am beyond grateful to accept.”

Western Kentucky University senior Maggie Lewis of Shepherdsville has been selected to join the QatarDebate Elite Academy.

Lewis, who participated in the Arabic debating championship in Qatar as a Gatton Academy student, is the only non-native speaker of Arabic selected from the United States, according to WKU Arabic instructor Lhousseine Guerwane. Other selected U.S. participants are from Harvard University and University of Chicago.

“She came to us starting Arabic from zero through The Gatton Academy’s STEM+Arabic program and now is an Arabic major at WKU,” Guerwane said. “We are very proud of her hard work learning the language and debating in Arabic.”

Lewis will continue her studies at WKU while attending Elite Academy training sessions in Qatar and other Arabic nations, said Guerwane, who will serve as her mentor in the program. The Elite Academy is organized by QatarDebate with the purpose of training a number of selected young debaters to sharpen their training skills and prepare them to establish debate clubs according to QatarDebate’s standards, with the aim of disseminating the Arabic debate culture around the globe.

Lewis is looking forward to participating in the Elite Academy’s training programs.

“I cannot thank Professor Guerwane and Dr. David DiMeo enough, not only as educators but as inspirations, for equipping me with the skills and confidence to seek out and obtain such an amazing opportunity that centers around the very language that they have inspired me to love so much,” she said. “I feel blessed to be part of this but most of all I feel blessed to be able to be part of something bigger than myself and fellowship with a diverse array people who are more than able to expand my world view and teach me to expand the world view of others.”

From Western Kentucky University

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