Former Arabic student speaks at UN

By Patrick Bray
DLIFLC Public Affairs


 

Clive Roberts (left), former dean at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and now the co-director of the Many Languages, One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum, and Spc. David Chestnut (right), former Arabic student at DLIFLC, stand together for a photo in New York City July 26. Chestnut spoke in Arabic at the United Nations General Assembly in New York as a winner of the “Many Languages, One World” essay contest. (Photo courtesy of the Many Languages, One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum)

MONTEREY, Calif. – Spc. David Chestnut, an Arabic language graduate from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City July 26-29 as a winner of the “Many Languages, One World” essay contest.

“When I submitted the essay I didn’t think that I was of that high of a caliber, but I wanted to see where I stand,” said Chestnut. “It was very overwhelming and exciting when I got the email saying I won.”

The contest challenges students to write about how multilingualism fosters global citizenship and cultural understanding. It must be written in a language other than their first language and be an official language of the U.N. – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish.

“I didn’t know too much about the globalism aspect of it so I had to really break it down and think about how culture and language would tie everything together, then try to figure out how to do it in Arabic,” said Chestnut.

Chestnut wrote in his essay that there are countless phrases in numerous languages specific to the culture and without knowledge and cultural insight, learning a language would be like piecing together an incomplete puzzle.

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Spc. David Chestnut stands with his family following his graduation from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center June 30. Chestnut spoke in Arabic at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City July 26-29 as a winner of the “Many Languages, One World” essay contest. (Photo by Patrick Bray, DLIFLC Public Affairs)

Following his graduation from DLIFLC, Chestnut was excited to speak at the U.N. because it was an opportunity to critically think in his new language.

“Instead of having time to revise, I’ll get to see how well I can think of things on the spot and improvise with the language. Not everything will be scripted. That will really show where I’m at in my Arabic,” said Chestnut, June 30.

Having recently graduated from DLIFLC, Chestnut looks back on these types of events and sees them as being extremely helpful in learning a new language.

“I would encourage everyone to partake in a language contest. Anyone that can graduate here can do something like this,” said Chestnut.

Students from 36 countries participated in the “Many Languages, One World” contest. All of them are pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees representing 54 international universities. A total of 60 students were selected from a pool of more than 3,600 entrants. Chestnut was one of the 10 winning Arabic language students.

The contest is held annually and organized by ELS Educational Services, Inc. and the United Nations Academic Impact.

DLIFLC provides resident instruction in 23 languages at the Presidio of Monterey, California, with the capacity to instruct another 65 languages in Washington, D.C., graduating more than 200,000 linguists since 1941.

In addition, multiple language training detachments exists at sites in the U.S., Europe, Hawaii and Korea spanning all the U.S. geographic combatant commands, to support the total force.



Posted Date: 28 July 2016