ISH resident Amir Kamergi has been surprised at the level of curiosity residents have about each other’s countries and cultures, how open everyone is to other perspectives at the House. For him, this is a special and invaluable quality of the environment of the International Student House. And he has had much to share with fellow residents and others.
Amir is in the U.S. this year, 2011-12, on a Fulbright cultural exchange program, working as a teaching assistant at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). There he teaches Arabic and Tunisian cultural history and this year, especially, that subject has been of particular interest to SAIS graduate students. Tunisia lit the spark that generated this year’s extraordinary events in the Middle East, now known as the Arab Spring. At the beginning of each of his classes, he shows videos of the latest news from Tunisia, exposing students to the most current news while practicing their Arabic at the same time.
Amir, who earned his license in English literature and civilization at the Institute of Languages in Tunis, was the only member of his family to be involved in the protests and street fighting that brought down the repressive Tunisian government last January. He was one of thousands of young people who, inspired by social media, rose up in protest against corruption and poor living conditions under the previous government. And he has burn scars on his shoulders to prove it. Now, he says, the general population of Tunisia is very involved in the country’s politics. “Now that there is a new president, constitutional assembly, and president of parliament, Tunisia is more stable,” he says. He is pleased to tell Tunisia’s story to friends at ISH, and he has even made a documentary on the subject with another resident, Ani ?? from Armenia.
In addition to teaching at SAIS, Amir is taking a course on internet interaction, in preparation for his return to Tunis in May. There he hopes to teach English and technology, first in high schools and later at the university level. Meanwhile, while he is still here, he will continue to participate in his other favorite aspect of life at ISH – a richly talented musical community. He and fellow residents often play in Burling Hall on Sunday afternoons. A self-taught (left-handed!) guitarist, Amir particularly likes to play Flamenco music.