Yale program exposes local youth to new languages and cultures

A group of high school students studying Russian text on a chalkboard.
Local high school students study Russian as part of the World CLASS program, which provides area youth the opportunity to study languages not offered by their school districts.

Every Monday at 4 p.m., Ayala Mack visits Yale to study Arabic.

Languages fascinate Mack, a ninth-grade student at New Haven’s Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, and Yale is helping her to feed that passion. She is one of 280 students from area high schools who participate in the World Culture and Language After School Studies Program (World CLASS), which provides high-school students from New Haven and surrounding towns instruction in languages and cultures not commonly taught in local schools.

Arabic is so different from other languages taught at school, and I wanted to try it,” said Mack, seated in a seminar room in Henry R. Luce Hall. “I think more people should be interested in learning it. It’s really hard, but I’m enjoying the class.”