Arabic TA Mustafa Al Shaflo is from Libya.
1.) What brought you to Williams College?
Well, I applied for Fulbright scholarship for an FLTA (Foreign Language Teaching Assistant) position, and I got the opportunity to come to the states. Honestly, I did not choose Williams in particular; rather, Williams has picked me among other applicants. The reason I came here is twofold: the first is to work on my English and gain good teaching experience. The second is to enrich and build up my resume so that it increases the opportunity of having a better job in the future. The plan has succeeded so far in that I had two years in Williams and a summer course in Middlebury School.
2.) What were your first impressions of Williams?
Wow, good question! Well, the first day I came here I was surprised by how small the college and area are. It seemed that I was going to spend the year in the middle of nowhere. The driver, who picked me up at the airport, had told me about the college and how old it is. When I arrived, the following question had crossed my mind: how many people were living here like 100 or 200 years ago? The place seemed so quiet and abandoned.
3.) How have your impressions changed since living here?
This quick impression changed when school started. Surprisingly, this little college turned out to be one of the best schools in the states. Students are really working hard and very smart and classes are very demanding and, of course, there is little free time.
4.) What has been one of the most rewarding parts of your work at Williams?
Well, the experience is wonderful so far. Having friends from almost five countries other than the US (I mean the other TAs), traveling across the states, learning several teaching techniques, working with highly qualified professors and gaining self-confidence are all parts of my rewarding experience at Williams. I would say that teaching my own language is the most rewarding part though!
5.) What has been one of the most challenging aspects of your work at Williams?
The most challenging part of my experience is taking classes. You know, classes here are student-oriented and very demanding. Back home, for example, we have not been trained to speak up in class; rather, we attend lectures and then have exams and we are all set. Here, being shy is unwelcome. Students come here fully prepared, while many of us [TAs] are still struggling with our poor and rusty sort of language.
The other challenging thing for me is that I could not find something interesting to study. I wish if the college has a linguistics department or something about teaching foreign language, which I need so badly.
Last but not least, preparing for my language classes is a bit challenging where I have to spend a considerable amount of time coming up with and preparing for activities.
6.) What do you miss about your home country?
Oh Gosh!!! I do really miss lots of things….starting from my big family and nephews and nieces (well, I got a new niece last week) and of course, I miss my friends and GIRLFRIEND, whom I am going to marry. Also, there is one big thing that I miss too: the freedom cry. Yeah, my country has been liberated from a brutal dictator after 42 years of oppression and devastation-I really miss the moments of liberation and the smell of the freedom. Way to go LIBYANS!
7.) Do you have a favorite food? If so, what is it?
My favorite food is cuscus (a well known North African meal), I also love fresh grilled fish and lamb which I used to do a lot back home.