Arabic teacher balances several part time jobs

Originally from Amman, Jordan, Part-Time Instructor of Arabic Khaldoun Almousily has been an instructor at Western for the past three years. He came to WKU after meeting his now wife, Kelly. “She came to Jordan to learn the language and I was her translation partner,” said Almousily. He hopes to start his PhD in Arabic and Translation Studies soon.

Liz Geiman

Khaldoun Almousily is an Arabic professor at WKU by day and interpreter for state government by night. He is also an Arabic teacher to third through sixth graders by day and a translator for the United Nations by night.

He is a translator for the federal government by day and Kentucky court interpreter by night. Almousily balances as many as seven part-time jobs, which all include his passion of interpreting.

Almousily is a native of Amman, Jordan, and began learning English in kindergarten. His passion for the language motivated him to learn more.

“I used to watch Oprah and Dr. Phil to improve (my) English as they speak slowly,” Almousily said.

As he continued to study the language, he made the decision to further his education by earning a bachelor’s degree in translation and interpretation at Al-Zaytoonah University in Amman, and then pursued a master’s degree at The University of Jordan on a scholarship for academic achievement.

He reached fluency in the language, but wanted to experience using it first hand in a native-speaking country. Almousily said that the colloquial language was hard to acquire in a classroom.

“They (his teachers) were teaching us English, but with Arabic accents,” he said.

The opportunity came when he was accepted to teach at WKU in 2009. He moved to Kentucky and married his wife Kelly, of Henderson, whom he had met in Jordan, where they were both studying.

Almousily was ready to spread his enthusiasm for what would become an ever-growing Arabic program in the department of modern languages.

“We started the Arabic program with only 12 people, and now there are over 100 students,” Almousily said.

Holly Oglesbee, office associate in the department of modern languages, contributes the energy in the Arabic program to Almousily.

His “contagious” enthusiasm is what makes him a vital and energetic part of the modern language staff, Oglesbee said.

“I can’t say enough good things about Khaldoun,” she said. “He brings such enthusiasm to the program and in the way he presents the Arabic language and culture. He is extremely approachable and relates well to all. He is a great ambassador for the program.”

When Almousily’s day is over as a professor at WKU, it is just beginning for his other jobs.

One of his jobs includes teaching Arabic to students in third through sixth grade at the Gifted Education in Math and Science (GEMS) Academy. The Academy is a component of a five-year federal research grant, and the students are chosen based on their interest in science and math, Almousily said.

When he is finished teaching, Almousily also translates for the United Nations. He interprets over a three-way call with officials to assist refugees who fled to Jordan and want to be resettled in the United States.

He has assisted in relocating people from Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The process includes helping the refugees obtain a visa so they can seek safety in other countries. Almousily said that Jordan is a main country in the Middle East that takes in refugees from war-torn countries. Because of the geography of the country, however, there are not enough supplies to sustain the growing refugee population.

“It’s a big burden on the country because of lack of resources,” Almousily said. “The country is mostly desert, and the city of Amman is built on seven mountains. This means that natural resources such as water and oil are not abundant as it is in other countries.”

Almousily also interprets for Kentucky courts if a case includes an Arabic speaker. He is one of only two registered court interpreters in the state.

Last year, Almousily worked with WKU junior Haley Edwards to translate the Kentucky driver’s manual to Arabic. Edwards, of Buffalo, who is currently studying abroad in Jordan, admires that Almousily is able to balance all of the work he does.

“He is so energetic, it is unreal,” Edwards said. “He is so incredibly busy, and I don’t know how he does it.”

Almousily also translated the Kentucky driving test into Arabic, and it is now being used statewide.

Although he enjoys life in Kentucky, Almousily sometimes misses Amman. He is the middle child of four brothers and sisters, and talks to his family almost every day. He said that his family is learning English to impress him and better communicate with his wife.

After family, the culture is what Almousily misses most about his native home. He said that people are considerably more friendly and grateful for everyday things.

“People get upset (in the US) when it rains, saying that the weather is bad…but in Jordan, we dance and take off our shirts because we are so excited,” he said.

Almousily eventually wants to get a doctoral degree in translation and interpret for the White House. Wherever he ends up in the future, he will always be in a classroom teaching.

“I will always be teaching Arabic in the future no matter what,” he said. “I love to teach and my students so much.”