Ayah Arabi Durkawi

Ayah’s fascination with literature and language began at early adolescence, when she started exploring the writings of such literary giants as Dostoyevsky and Gibran. It was then also that she began to follow her own passion for writing in Arabic, winning a national creative writing competition for children three years in a row. This led to her being selected to travel to Bulgaria as part of a delegation of children to attend a peace conference and present a speech Ayah wrote to the Bulgarian parliament. It was during this experience that she sensed the power of language to move others through the symbolic dimension of intercultural communication.

Ayah’s love for English was ignited in high school, when her father’s extensive library began supplying her with treasures written in this hitherto unmastered language. From then on in, she continued her journey into the realms of English, obtaining a BA in English Language, Literature, and Linguistics, and a postgraduate diploma in English<->Arabic translation at Damascus University, which would help Ayah bridge her love of both English and Arabic. She then moved to the UK to pursue her MLitt and PhD in English poetry at Newcastle University. While writing up her PhD, Ayah worked as a Postgraduate Assessor at Careers Service in Newcastle University, helping students discover what they enjoyed and were good at doing as a job. She also taught ESL and worked as a freelance translator for some of the top public-relations firms and companies in the UK and the Middle East.

A great Syrian poet once said, ‘love forever belongs to the first-love’, and Ayah’s early love for Arabic came back to reclaim its power over her destiny. By a stroke of serendipity, she was hired as an Arabic teacher at the UK campus of Queen’s University of Canada based on her proposal for a course that integrates the teaching of culture and language, employing both MSA and Levantine Arabic. Ayah’s career – which she once thought would be solely dedicated to teaching English Romantic poetry – took off in the field of AFL, and she worked at several universities in UK HE, including Aston, Cardiff, Durham, and St Andrews. Ayah will soon be embarking on an exciting new job at Edinburgh University – one of the few Arabic programmes in the UK to integrate the teaching of MSA and dialect.

Ayah’s interests currently revolve around AFL, the teaching of language and culture, and her creative writing.

Posts by Ayah Arabi Durkawi