Seal of Biliteracy Stories: Zubair Farooqui

This week, we are sharing the success of a young man named Zubair Farooqui who achieved the Seal of Biliteracy and has found great success in his life as a result. Zubair comes from an Indian-American family. As a child, he was exposed to many languages because both his parents spoke multiple languages. For him, this sparked an early interest in learning languages. He decided to take Spanish classes in 7th grade and has been studying the language ever since. As a student currently in medical school, he continues to learn the language!

Zubair first learned about the Seal of Biliteracy during high school. His teacher, Mrs. Linda Egnatz, was in the process of introducing the Seal of Biliteracy to the State of Illinois. He was part of the first batch of students that received the Seal of Biliteracy in Illinois.

Zubair believes that achieving the Seal of Biliteracy was a simple process and recommends that all students achieve the seal. He took 5 years of classes in Spanish, and after this, did well on his AP exams, which helped put him on the path to achieving the Seal of Biliteracy. He thinks that the most beneficial part of achieving the seal was proving that he was biliterate, which meant that he was proficient in not only speaking Spanish, but also writing in Spanish and reading in Spanish.

The Seal of Biliteracy has made me realize that language learning should not be limited to the classroom. It has pushed me to use my language skills outside the classroom. Using language in an authentic, real-world setting truly helps a person learn a language. I have used Spanish at work several times and have told employers that I have the Seal of Biliteracy, which is always a plus! It serves as proof to my employers that I am biliterate in English and Spanish

Zubair is currently a medical student at Midwestern University. You can oftentimes find him studying at the library. One might think that a medical student may not need to use Spanish in their lives, however, this is not true.

In a patient setting, Zubair uses his Spanish to speak with patients who are more comfortable speaking in Spanish. He has used his skills in Spanish as a pharmacy technician and a Certified Nursing Assistant.

I hope to use my skills in Spanish to work in the Latino community, which is known to be medically underserved. One of the main reasons behind this is the lack of doctors who speak Spanish. I hope to bridge that gap by serving the community

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Zubair found his biggest challenge in achieving the seal was proving that he was proficient in writing and reading in Spanish. The speaking piece came more naturally to him, with all his experience learning languages at home. However, with practice and reinforcement in the classroom and outside the classroom, he was able to prove his writing and reading proficiency.

I think the most rewarding part of achieving the seal was using my Spanish skills in the real world. There is one specific story that particularly comes to mind. When I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I would work with patients with Alzheimer’s disease. I had one resident who spoke Spanish and English. But, because of her disease, she felt more comfortable speaking in Spanish. She would feel nervous when the other CNA’s spoke to her in English. However, when I approached her and spoke to her, there was always a relief in her eyes. Because I used Spanish, she felt comfortable. Having Alzheimer’s disease puts patients in uncomfortable positions. To be the source of comfort for that patient, was one of the most rewarding things in my life

Although this is one specific story, Zubair feels as though he has used Spanish many times to comfort his patients. He believes that his knowledge of languages allows him to work with people who speak the language. When he interacts with these people, he realizes that there are many similarities between us as humans. The only barrier is language. Once we get past that barrier, he believes that we can connect instantly as human beings. Further, his knowledge of language has helped him to step out of his comfort zone and experience other cultures and appreciate these cultures.

Achieving the Seal of Biliteracy changed Zubair’s perspective of the world by making him realize how important it is to speak more than one language. He believes this from a personal and professional standpoint. Personally, he has come to appreciate cultures different from his own because of his knowledge in languages. Professionally, he has realized how important it is to learn languages because the United States is growing in diversity. As a hopeful physician, he hopes to serve our many diverse communities. Having a knowledge of languages has made it more possible for him to serve diverse communities.

My advice to other students is to use and advertise your Seal of Biliteracy, especially when applying for work. It is a real skill to be biliterate and many people do not realize that. And this applies to all fields. If you think that your language skills may not be useful in your job, think again

One thought on “Seal of Biliteracy Stories: Zubair Farooqui

  1. Spanish is important for many doctors. I remember a story from about twenty years ago, when my sibling was a first-year resident at Duke. On their very first day of residency, the residents were asked who spoke Spanish. Only about seven of them did, and those seven were asked to rotate in a clinic where many patients spoke mainly Spanish. My sibling was proud to be one of those seven who could say they spoke Spanish.

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