(BALTIMORE SUN) — Eleven-year-old Sy’Keirra English strides confidently to the front of the classroom and greets her teacher in his native language — Arabic.

Atheed Azzet could not be more pleased. It has been three months, and the kids are grasping phrases that few of them had ever heard before he entered their lives.

This tall, slim Iraqi clearly holds the allegiance of the sixth-graders at William C. March Middle School, located in a tough section of East Baltimore. When he beckons, they flock to the blackboard to draw Arabic’s unfamiliar swirls and dots. When he approaches in the hall, they utter the greeting "Marhaba," hoping to impress.

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