Learning Through Languages: building skills, confidence, and global understanding
Josie DeRonja '19 and Rim Metina-Belknap '19

On Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, we participated in the Learning Through Languages High School Research Symposium at UNC-Chapel Hill. High schoolers from all over North Carolina gathered to present research projects that were conducted on various regions of the world. Within each region, projects were done in different languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, and Russian. Our project "Les nouveaux schémas de l'immigration et de la migration au Maghreb requièrent de nouvelles mesures politiques et sociales" was conducted in French and focused on North Africa and the Middle East.

For the Symposium we wrote a research paper in French, created a project visual, and gave an oral presentation that involved a research explanation and answering questions about our research - all in French. Our project won Best Research Project for The Middle East and North Africa Research Track.

Our research focused on how changing migration and immigration patterns in the Maghreb are impacting governments and societies in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Traditionally these countries have been a transit point for people immigrating to Europe; however, Europe's stricter immigration laws have led to the Maghreb becoming the destination where migrants stay. To understand how these countries are adapting to this new dynamic we researched immigration laws, unemployment levels, the distribution of health and education resources, and racism. We ultimately concluded that these countries need to take action now through new laws to adapt to changing migration patterns. This is necessary so these countries can be better prepared for the future and avoid making current issues worse.

This project was a great opportunity to build confidence in our French skills and learn about governments and societies in other countries. Reading news articles in French, writing a thesis driven paper in the language, and presenting our research and responding to questions in French allowed us to apply things we learn and practice in the classroom and feel more confident in our communication capabilities. The topic of our research project allowed us to become more aware of what factors can influence a society and themes and conflicts present in every country dealing with immigration issues.