Students in the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Summer Language Institute (SLI) gained experience far beyond the classroom this summer, said Clark Leonard, from University Relations.

As part of the intensive six-week course from June 15-July 31 that earned them eight credit hours in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Russian, students took field trips to put their language skills into practice.


Awad Awad, UNG lecturer of Arabic, teaches during a Summer Language Institute class.
SLI students had a fun cooking day! They made Futomaki (thick sushi rolls), Inari zushi (sushi rice in seasoned deep-fried bean curds), Chirashi zushi (scattered sushi), and Tako (octopus-shaped) sausages. Itadakimasu!

Field Trips:

Students in the Arabic class visited a Mizrahi synagogue, Arab church, and mosque; the Fox Theatre, Alif Institute, Refuge Coffee, restaurants and markets.

They also assisted Clarkston city workers with their Arabic so the employees can better serve the city’s residents. Nearly 32 percent of Clarkston’s population is foreign-born with 60 languages spoken in a little more than a square mile, according to the city’s website.

Other SLI classes, like the Chinese class, visited markets and bookstores in Atlanta or around the region and tasted food from the cultures they were studying.


For students in the Japanese class, the trip to Atlanta included a visit to the Japan Consul General’s residence and a chance to practice vocabulary with native Japanese speakers.

Japanese SLI had a cooking competition. Let’s say いただきます!(Itadakimasu; bon appetit)


Students from the Korean class visited a Korean monument and attended a Korean singing room to sing songs learned in class.

Korean Calligraphy

Students in the Russian class toured a Russian Orthodox church to see the architecture and artwork, and they also practiced vocabulary with World War II veterans and native Russian speakers.

Between the QFI grant and Project GO, most of the SLI students were scholarship winners. Participants included high school students, UNG students, and students from other colleges and universities.

Students testimonials:

“I love that,” said Courtney Van Niman, a rising high school senior from Washington, D.C., and SLI participant. “The opportunity to take what you’ve learned and pass it on to other people is why most of us learn these languages.” Van Niman, Summer 2019.

Justin Collado, a sophomore UNG cadet from Augusta, Georgia, pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, appreciated learning Arabic in the context of culture and history to gain a richer understanding.

“It really builds relationships and helps have that good bridge between cultures,” said Collado, who attended SLI on a Project GO scholarship.

Chi-Hsuan Catterson, senior lecturer of Chinese at UNG and academic director of UNG’s Chinese Language Flagship, was the founder of the original SLI for Chinese. Thank you, Chi-Hsuan!

“I am very pleased to see SLI serving so many of our students and opening their eyes to the world,” Catterson said.