Samar Moushabeck began teaching at Deerfield Academy fifteen years ago, when the Arabic program was virtually nonexistent. Since that first year when she taught only seven students across two levels, she has built the program into the integral part of life at Deerfield it is today. Not only has the program grown to cover five levels, but Moushabeck has enriched the knowledge of Arabic culture at Deerfield.
Moushabeck first decided to teach Arabic to share both a culture, and what she refers to as a “treasure in knowing Arabic.” In particular she noticed a “gap in the American culture that exists with regard to everything Arabic” and hoped to fix this. She saw Deerfield as an opportunity to “reach the leaders of tomorrow and help increase their global intelligence and their global awareness about the Arabic culture and the language.”
Moushabeck enjoyed looking for new and creative ways to teach Arabic to her students. As Cheri Karbon, a Deerfield Spanish teacher, described, “Ms. Moushabeck has been a pioneer in our department. She has introduced so many new thoughts and ideas about teaching.”
In Moushabeck’s first year, she started the yearly event Arabic Night, where members of the Deerfield community gather to enjoy music, food, dancers and henna artists as they learn about Arabic culture. Karbon commended this work and said, “This is a huge feat considering that she is really a one-woman department.”
Moushabeck also began the triennial trip to Jordan both to make Arabic more visible to the Deerfield community and to provide further opportunity for those outside the program to learn.
Siobhan Kelley ‘22, a two-year student of Moushabeck, explained that “[Moushabeck] always finds new and interesting ways to make Arabic class fun, and always puts a smile on my face.”
Christian Odenius ‘22, also a two-year student of Moushabeck, said, “I will miss her teaching. I felt that she appreciated us as students and as people who are trying to get closer to the Arabic culture.” Christian continued by saying, “especially in the US where the Arabic culture is heavily stigmatized, this knowledge is incredibly important.”
Moushabeck’s tendency to help the community was ever present in her actions, and a product of her genuine care and respect in sharing and experiencing culture. Language Department colleague Ms. Xiaofeng Kelly appreciated these qualities when they attended the 2015 Faculty China trip, saying“I was amazed by her eagerness to embrace Chinese culture and passion for learning about new perspectives.”
Besides Moushabeck’s impacts as a teacher, her presence on campus was treasured by many. Claudia Lyons, a retired French language teacher said, “Just seeing her walk towards me made me smile! Then, there’s her infectious laugh that sounds like the tinkling of bells. I couldn’t be in a bad mood the moment I’d hear her start laughing.”
Karbon spoke similarly, saying, “She immediately struck me as a beautiful person – inside and out,” while Mr. Taft added, “I am lucky to have worked with her, and more lucky to call her my friend.”
After fifteen years of teaching, Moushabeck has decided to explore other interests. “I have given fifteen beautiful years of my life to doing my passion, teaching Arabic, and I have really enjoyed it,” Moushabeck explained, “but after so many years, I decided to venture into Real Estate which will enable me more time to spend with my family, to learn new things, and to pursue more passions.”
In the years to come, Moushabeck hopes to spend more time with her family, working at her family bookstore in Northampton called Booklink. She also plans to grow her real estate business and continue to tutor Arabic.
“I will miss watching young boys and girls turn into young, responsible, smart men and women who will lead our future, armed with such knowledge,” Moushabeck explained. “And the salad bar too!” she added.
Ms. Kelly echoed the feelings of many when she said, “I will miss seeing Ms. Moushabeck every day and her unwavering kindness, generosity and patience.”