Mastering five languages

Chenise Calhoun believes every voice has a right to be heard, and she hopes to make her voice heard in at least five different languages.  

Chenise Calhoun writing in Arabic on board

As a senior in high school, Calhoun was inspired to study foreign languages by a Youtube video of a boy who spoke 20 languages. What began as a “fun party trick” became more than a hobby at TU.

“I took four language courses during my freshman year,” recalls Calhoun. “I had been teaching myself French and Arabic before taking those language classes with Assistant Professor Ziad Bentahar, who also moderated the Club for Arabic Learners. He helped me see the bigger picture and understand that languages can be useless if you have nothing to say. ”

Calhoun, a combined French and international studies major, applauds the Department of Foreign Languages for “never limiting me in pursuing my goals.”

She was president of the Club for Arabic Learners, helped start the French Club, participated regularly in language and cultural exchange events, and tutored fellow students in French, Arabic, German, and Chinese. She also found time to minor in women’s and gender studies.

“Professors are always encouraging students to take their language skills outside the classroom.”

Language allows us to share the things that make up our culture. ”

Chenise Calhoun

Calhoun describes her study abroad experience in Morocco as “an unexpected gift.” She studied with International Studies Abroad, taking Arabic courses and living with a French-speaking Moroccan family for a total language immersion experience.

“Language allows us to share the things that make up our culture,” says Calhoun. “It was cool to have nuanced conversations with Moroccan students about topics that affect all of us.” She also traveled to the Spanish city of Ceuta on the northern coast of Africa, following a similar path that African migrants have followed in recent years.

Now a senior at TU, Calhoun is applying to graduate school, where she hopes to pursue coursework in African studies and share stories that shed light on different issues. 

Photos from Morocco

Want to learn more about Towson University? 

Request information here