Meet Ali Al-Haj, Founder of AmeriSpan's Amman Arabic school
What is your background?
I was born in Amman, Jordan, on Friday April 11, 1963 ( 48 years old). I have a PhD degree in Electronics Engineering (obtained in 1993). I live in Amman in the suburb area of Dahiyatt Al-Rasheed.
My wife has a Masters degree in Speech Therapy. She takes care of me and three children (two boys and a girl aged 11, 6, and 10, respectively).
Do you travel abroad often?
I'm a University professor, and I travel at least once a year to attend scientific conferences in my field. The conferences are held in different places in the world every year. I've visited North America, most of Europe, Japan and Taiwan. Not to forget, of course, most Arab countries.
Have you studied abroad?
I was a foreign exchange student in the USA in 1980. I stayed with the Winbergs family in Solon Ohio, and attended Solon High School as a senior student. My AFS year in the US ( www.afs.org) was a turning point in my life, indeed. After I got my BSc in Electrical Engineering from Jordan, I went to Japan and did my Masters and PhD in the same specialization. I spent 10 years of my life in Japan (from 1985 until 1995).
Which languages do you speak or have you studied?
I speak Arabic, of course, as my mother tongue. I also speak English, and Japanese. I used to speak (or at least knew) Russian before I went to the US in 1980.
How and why did you get into the Study Abroad market?
I used to teach Arabic and English during my long stay in Japan. I came to enjoy teaching languages, and therefore, I always thought of having my own language school in Jordan. Although, I'm a professor in Electrical Engineering teaching at a Royal College in Jordan, and managing my school and drawing its strategic plans is something I greatly enjoy.
When did you start/join your organization?
I started my language school in 2005. I wanted to name the school a unique Arabic name, and my first choice at the registration office was 'Sinbad Language Center'. The name was reserved, and I thought 'Aladdin' would be good as well, but it was also taken. Ali Baba was the only available name, so I named the school 'Ali Baba International Center'.
What is your job or function at the organization?
I'm the Founder and the General Manager of the school. I'm also responsible for locating new agents and finding new markets abroad.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I enjoy having people of different nationalities study at my school. We have had students from many countries around the globe. Students from countries we never had students from make me feel the name 'International; more and more. I also enjoy reading the feedback of our students after they finish their course of study at the school.
Was a person, group of people or organization that were instrumental in your success?
I have been fortunate to work with people who were instrumental in making our school gain a good international reputation. The executive director of the school. Mr. Fadi Abu-Hamdeh, and all instructors. John Slocum, the Founder and Marketing Manager of AmeriSpan, visited our school in Jordan, and his faith in us as a good partner and language school, has also contributed greatly to our success.
Tell us one of your biggest challenges in starting your organization?
After starting the school, we needed students to teach! This is was the major challenge at the beginning. It took us time to build a good reputation worldwide, and to establish cooperation with international language agents.
Tell us one of your biggest mistakes in your job, studying/teaching a language and/or traveling abroad?
There are some regrets once in a while, but I can't recall a major one.
How did you and AmeriSpan begin working together?
During my search for international language abroad agents, I received an email from John Slocum offering cooperation. I was happy indeed to know about AmeriSpan as a leading language travel agent. It took us short time to establish a cooperation agreement that ended with having an influx of AmeriSpan students. We were also happy to receive John at our school when he visited Jordan couple of years ago.
Can you tell us about your schools philosophy, specialty and/or why you think it is special?
As a university professor I value high-quality education. Therefore, I think of my school as an academy rather than a company offering education. This has been reflected on how we recruit our instructors, and on how we treat our agents and students.
Anything else? Perhaps some advice to potential participants, teachers, school owners or travelers to your country or city?
Mastering a language needs some talent but much effort. Therefore, to master a foreign language students should enjoy 'working hard' on the language, and if possible 'live the language' in its native country.
Discover more about AmeriSpan's Amman Arabic school