|PSL Alumni Network||
the alumni blog
|PSL Alumni Network||
the alumni blog
Abdulaziz Dahlawi, or “Aziz” for short, graduated in Spring 2016 as one of Penn State Learning’s most recent alumni. Though a Saudi Arabian native, he was no stranger to Happy Valley on his first day of freshman year--visits to his cousins at Penn State familiarized him with the area in the years prior (“I’m basically a townie,” he jokes). While completing his undergrad in Economics and Spanish, his love for his third language led him to become a tutor at the Learning Center during his senior year. Where is he now, you ask? Read on and find out.
What was your role during your time at Penn State Learning?
During my senior year from Fall 2015-Spring 2016, I was a Spanish tutor in Sparks. In addition to the drop-in side of it, we also hosted exam reviews for the first through third levels of the language.
What direction did you go after Penn State?
All throughout my senior year, I had thought that I wanted to work after I graduated. Had I gone back home, the jobs available would have primarily been in the banking fields--it wasn’t something that I was particularly interested in. During spring semester, I started looking more seriously into the possibility of grad school. Penn State had a two year program that would allow me to combine my global knowledge with my language knowledge and put things into an international perspective.
Right now, I’m mostly focusing on development policy. Ideally, I’d like to work on policies for sustainable growth in developing countries. Though it might be a little bit of a reach, someday I want to work for the UN or World Bank--or maybe an organization that works with them. I’m not particularly picky. I am, however, looking forward to going somewhere new after I graduate from this program. Penn State is great, but I’ve got more places I’d like to see too.
How would you compare grad vs. undergrad?
The law building is separated from the rest of campus, so I don’t see much else anymore. People on this end of the spectrum are more career-oriented and are thinking more immediately about their futures than others. I’m in the same place geographically, but surrounded by a more professionally-minded crowd. I hadn’t started thinking about the future from the beginning of undergrad, but I have started from that point here. I’m still thinking about my options for internships and other upcoming opportunities during the semester. Classes here expect you to think more critically, and there are fewer exams. It’s all about handling real-life situations instead of hypothetical regurgitation.
Has your experience tutoring at PSL impacted your life or career? If so, how?
Yes. Learning how to communicate the knowledge of a language helped me to develop my own language skills. Teaching someone else really helps to put things into perspective--it not only solidifies what you know, but it serves as a great refresher for things you haven’t seen since you learned them. From a career standpoint, it’s very important in my field because I’ll be working with different communities and it’ll be helpful to have a wider reach.
PSL offers Arabic as a language for tutoring. As a native speaker, had you ever considered doing both?
I grew up with Arabic and knew it from the start, so I didn’t learn it like I learned my second and third languages. I think it would be hard to teach because it’s so inherent. Tutoring Spanish was exponentially easier than ever trying to explain Arabic--I remembered the class settings, so the concepts and structures were simpler to replicate. I was able to share what I did in my classes that helped me versus what I could have done better.
Do you have any words of advice for current tutors and recent graduates entering into the professional world?
For the current tutors--be patient; make students feel comfortable. Some people come in hesitant and intimidated, but make them remember that they’re your peers. Language can be tough but encourage them to keep coming regularly and not just during crunch time. The students who kept coming on a weekly basis did better than those who came only during exam time.
For alumni--the communication and instructional skills that you develop while working at Penn State Learning will benefit you for the rest of your life and are valuable to learn. Always keep in mind the value of communication.
~This interview was compiled by Danielle Metzger, Spanish tutor, class of 2018.