Khaoula El Mardi can go nearly anywhere in the world and communicate.
The sophomore Biology major speaks eight languages.
El Mardi was raised in Morocco with a father who is fluent in Arabic, French and Russian and a mother who speaks Italian, Spanish, French and Arabic.
By the age of three, El Mardi already knew three languages because of her family.
“Arabic and French are our native language, but my mom studied Spanish for three years in a university in Spain,” said El Mardi. “She said, ‘It will be great to put my children in a Spanish high school, and great for them to have another language. ‘”
Today, El Mardi speaks Arabic, Classical Arabic, French, Spanish, English, Catalan and Dutch.
One of the biggest advantages of knowing so many languages is the ability go to new places and understand the people.
“When you’re in another country, you hear people talking in another language, and you know what they are saying,” said El Mardi. “You can say that you understand and play with that.”
El Mardi hopes to become an international surgeon because she wants to help people around the world.
“I will have more opportunities to work outside of the United States and go to another country because there are a lot of tourists and immigrants,” said El Mardi. “So it will be really easy for them to communicate with me in their own language.”
El Mardi doesn’t get to practice all of her languages on campus, but can talk with some friends an her brother, Mehdi El Mardi, who also attends at Trevecca and is a senior basketball player.
“Now that I am in Nashville I talk a lot in Spanish with people from Honduras. I talk in English, and with my brother I speak in French and Arabic,” she said.
El Mardi’s brother Mehdi El Mardi said that he loves having his sister at Trevecca because he wants her to experience what he experienced. He also said that his sister can be introverted at times, but getting to know her, one can see that she is intelligent and kind.
“Khaoula is way much more of a hard worker when it comes to school than me. She can be very shy, but she is always radiant with energy,” said El Mardi.
Sometimes when she is not around the languages she knows, her skills get a little rusty. The only way she remembers is by listening to others speak, and things come back to her memory.
“Since there are not a lot of people who speak Dutch, I can forget some words,” said El Mardi. “When I met my cousins again in the summer it became more fluent again.”
Although El Mardi knows seven languages, she also has extra curriculars under her sleeve. She has been a ballerina since the age of five and is learning kickboxing back home.
When El Mardi has time for herself, she says that she wants to learn Russian just like her father.