Born and raised in Wisconsin, USA, Maryam Marie LaConte is a mother and grandmother who has lived in many different places over the course of her 72 years. She attributes her most important experiences to her twelve years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 1986 to 1998, where she worked and embraced Islam. She was able to study tajweed and Arabic while there, and is now returning to traditional studies after retirement through the Ribaat Academic Institute.
“Ribaat has reinvigorated my intention to keep studying Arabic and Islam,” shares Maryam. “I am thrilled with how well the course is organized, and I adore our teacher Ustadha Samah Atef. She is the best Arabic teacher I have ever had and speaks English perfectly. My teachers in Riyadh did not speak English. Immersion has its value, but language learning in an academic setting needs a bilingual teacher.”
Through her recent studies, Maryam finds her faith to be renewed. She feels life is not easy for converts in the States, but studying Arabic has always been a faith-booster for Maryam. She intends to keep studying Arabic and also explore other classes like tajweed and Islamic studies through Ribaat.
“Fluency is no longer my goal, but I intend to keep studying until I am no longer able to do so,” Maryam states. “Reading the Quran in Arabic will always be an enriching experience for me. My father lived by this motto: ‘Never give up.’ If you fall away, even for the twenty plus years like I did, do not think you have given up. Simply come back.”
In her free time, Maryam likes knitting, horseback riding, reading, writing and cooking. She volunteers at a therapeutic horseback riding facility and lives near Milwaukee with her 97-year-old mother and her 61-year-old younger brother, nearby her 2 daughters and four wonderful grandchildren.