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These hybrid schools are blowing up the public education model

The Middle East Meets the Midwest

When she was younger, Angel Ouza, a 22-year old Lebanese-American, wanted to attend a school that integrated Arab language instruction with Arab culture. “My culture is like a religion,” explains Ouza, who is known by her Arabic name, Malak.

She found one to fit her needs back then — Star International Academy, an Arab language charter school for 1200 kindergarten through twelfth grade students in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

“Having a school where we’re able to keep that culture, we’re able to keep that religion,” she said. “We’re able to keep that language embedded in our generations is extremely important to me.” Along with Arabic, Star offers an option for single-gender classes in high school.

Star is one of three Arab language schools in the Detroit area managed by Nawal Hamadeh, a local Lebanese-American teacher turned administrator. Her students come from all over the Detroit area, particularly neighboring Dearborn, where 33 percent of the population is Arab-American.

Ouza likes her life in Dearborn Heights, where she can interact with the larger American community and be around people who understand her Lebanese-Muslim lifestyle.

“There’s tons of people who wear scarves, tons of Arab-Americans. It’s nice that when I drive there isn’t someone staring at me,” Ouza says. “There are also lots of African-Americans, Caucasians, Asians, etc. It’s very diverse and I like that!”

Ouza says she wants to stay in Dearborn Heights after she completes her education. She graduated in May from Wayne State University with a Master’s degree in social work, with sights set on a Ph.D is psychology.

“It’s a great community, I love it here,” she says. “I would have any kid go to Star, and my kids in the future to go there. Having the Arabic language embedded in their lives is so important to me.”

Filed Under: MichiganReshaping Communities


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  1. My English is not good, not too much to see to understand. But thank you to share with me

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