Gatton Academy Class of 2018 Senior Maggie Lewis put her Arabic skills to use during a recent trip to Qatar, a sovereign country in Western Asia.
“I have been learning Arabic for two years now and am currently enrolled in both Arabic 499 and Arabic 202 at Western Kentucky University,” she said.
As a Bullitt Central High School sophomore in 2015, the 17 year-old daughter of Stephanie and Richard Lewis prepared applications to both the Carol Martin Gatton Academy at WKU and The Craft Academy at Morehead State University.
Maggie was accepted at both schools and ultimately picked Gatton which had been her dream since fourth grade.
Her two years as a Gatton Academy student have been rigorous, challenging and quite eventful with experiences she will never forget.
Maggie attends Arabic Debate Club and Arabish, a club where she gets the opportunity to have conversation with Arab students at WKU.
“I help them with English and they help me with Arabic,” she explained.
A teacher, Professor Guerwane, inquired in early December if she was interested in interviewing for a spot on the WKU Arabic Debate team and travel to Qatar to compete in the annual Qatar Debate competition scheduled for early April in the capital city of Doha, Qatar.
Maggie’s interview went very well.
“I was so blessed to hear back a few days later that I was chosen to be a part of the team and travel all the way to the gulf country of Qatar to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.
Maggie traveled with fellow Gatton students Alexa Thompson of Bowling Green, Lindy Sipes of Hickman, and Sarah Yaacoub of Lexington. They prepared since Winter term, learning hundreds of new vocabulary words, the main components of debate, different rules of debate and the culture of Qatar.
“I am very excited and thankful for this experience,” she said. “Non-native and native Arabic speakers from all over the world (even countries I have never heard of before) came together to debate a diverse range of topics solely in the language of Arabic, as well as network and fellowship with one another.”
As part of Bullitt Central’s Beta Club oratory competition, she competed at the state level as well as essay competitions.
Maggie likes speaking on a topic that convinces listeners to understand the same way she does. She also loves learning new languages and is proficient in Spanish having taken Spanish 1, II and III (which helps on summer trips to visit family in Texas).
“I really love to talk so it is going to be exciting to get to do so in more than one language to people with different cultural backgrounds,” she said. “This should really be an eye-opener that I cannot wait to take part in. I love foreign language and believe that everybody should study at least one foreign language because it has given me the opportunity to travel, make new friends from all kinds of places, try new foods, and understand more about the world around me.”
Maggie plans to triple major in math, Arabic, and sociology and work as a translator or social media analyst for the American Government.