But Thursday night, Farida Badr, an Arabic lecturer, made it work and facilitated UNC’s first Arabic calligraphy competition.
Badr said she created the event because she didn’t just want to teach the skill inside the classroom, but reach the students outside of the classroom in a fun way as well.
“I want to add to students something they will never forget,” she said.
The event created the perfect opportunity for students to be immersed with Arabic culture without even having to take an Arabic course.
This was true for Justin Landis, a senior who took Arabic up to the 305 level.
“I took Arabic for a long time and wanted to get back into it, but I didn’t want to take another language class,” Landis said.
Landis had a piece of his calligraphy featured in the competition and said he would enjoy practicing this as a pastime in the future.
He particularly enjoys Arabic calligraphy's emphasis on art.
“There is a giant involvement of the language in the art form,” Landis said.
Badr met with students every week throughout the semester to work on their Arabic calligraphy while teaching them about the cultural topics such as food, cinema and dances.
The winners of the caligraphy contest included a student from the 101 level and the 203 level.
Sophomore Rizk Alghorazi said Badr helped foster a community of students who wanted to learn more about other aspects of Arabic culture while doing these lessons.
“Classroom is one thing, like learning Arabic, but to get into the culture, you have to communicate, get together and talk about what’s going on,” Alghorazi said."It’s a good platform for that.”
The calligraphy competition featured more than the students’ pieces through the semester — it also showcased Arabic dances, food and songs.
The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies paid for the calligraphy equipment and prizes.
Because she said she was unsure how many people would attend, Badr got up before the sun rose to make the competition’s food: falafel, rice and chicken, couscous, baklava and much more.
Since there was a positive reaction to the event, she said she hopes the Arabic department might sponsor it next year.
Badr’s first name, Farida, is Arabic for “unique.”
She said although she didn’t care about the meaning of her name when she was young, it now plays a part in her life.
“I try to find the talent in each student,” Badr said.
“Talent is not only academic, but other ways of art and all of them can give us a brilliant future.”