by Eva Gudbergsdottir

Lebanese food on a table
Middlebury Institute Professor Rana Issa recently hosted an improvised cooking lesson in Arabic, celebrating Lebanese culture and cuisine with students and their families.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Arabic Language Studies faculty member Rana Issa invited her students to an improvised Arabic lesson, featuring the cuisine of her native Lebanon. Utilizing WhatsApp, Zoom, colored pens, some paper, and her own kitchen, she taught students how to make a feast out of common staples, which many of them shared with their families.
 

Casual daily interactions with other students, faculty, and staff on the Middlebury Institute campus are a cherished part of the Institute learning experience. This tight-knit community of globally engaged people often gathers together outside of the classroom, formally and informally, to celebrate diverse cultures and traditions. In an attempt to preserve the spirit of those interactions, despite the current California-wide Stay-at-Home orders, Issa invited students to join her a cooking session outside of class.

Recipe in Arabic

Casual daily interactions with other students, faculty, and staff on the Middlebury Institute campus are a cherished part of the Institute learning experience. This tight-knit community of globally engaged people often gathers together outside of the classroom, formally and informally, to celebrate diverse cultures and traditions. In an attempt to preserve the spirit of those interactions, despite the current California-wide Stay-at-Home orders, Issa invited students to join her a cooking session outside of class.

“We looked for common ingredients that were in our kitchens and it was lentils, rice, and onions…and voilá, we cooked Mjadarra, a Lebanese dish that is considered the food of the poor cause it has no meat,” Issa shares. Even though food was at the heart of the gathering, the actual cooking part was optional. Some students followed Issa’s instructions, while others took note for the future. Everyone had a great time.

It’s been difficult for everyone, so I’m glad I have a dedicated and excellent teacher who can think outside the box and come up with new ways to keep learning Arabic fresh! 
— Jake Jamison MANPTS ’21

“Cooking with Rana on Sunday was really enjoyable,” shares Jake Jamison MANPTS ’21. “Not being able to be with my fellow students in class has made it difficult to study the same way we were before.” He adds that cooking through Zoom using Arabic allowed him to review vocabulary in a fun and interesting way without making it feel like studying. “It also gave me a sense of community as we were given a brief glimpse into each others personal lives and broke the feeling of isolation a little. Even more than that, I now know a recipe for a really tasty and easy Lebanese dish which I never would have even considered before. It’s been difficult for everyone, so I’m glad I have a dedicated and excellent teacher who can think outside the box and come up with new ways to keep learning Arabic fresh!” 

Issa has already sent out invitations to the next cooking lesson, this time with the suggested ingredients of potatoes, garlic, cilantro and rice – lemon optional.

For More Information

Eva Gudbergsdottir
eva@middlebury.edu
831.647.6606