Ali Al Arithy Was Told He Would Never Be Able to Read English. Now, He Teaches The Language

In Ep. 1 of WDET’s “Twisted Storytellers” podcast, Ali Al Arithy tells the story of a time when he was told by a teacher he couldn’t succeed.

From the live stage in Detroit to earbuds everywhere, WDET presents Season 3 of the Twisted Storytellers Podcast. This season explores the real-life challenges face by immigrants and reminds us all what it means to live in a modern day melting pot.


Courtesy of Satori Shakoor

In the ‘90s, when he was a child, Ali Al Arithy and his family escaped political turmoil in Iraq and came to the Detroit region.

“I went to school in a converted church. I don’t remember Kindergarten or first [grade], but I remember second grade specifically,” he says. “In second grade, I didn’t have the English that I would have loved to have had. Didn’t understand the teacher. Didn’t understand the students.”

Al Arithy says his teacher told him he would never be able to read.

“This person that I’m supposed to look up to, that I’m supposed to call a mentor, is telling me that I can’t read because I can’t speak her language,” he says. “I remember I had this drive. I felt like I needed to prove her wrong.”

In the first episode of WDET’s “Twisted Storytellers” podcast, Al Arithy tells the story of his journey from being being discouraged as an elementary-aged student to eventually becoming an English teacher himself. The heartwarming tale is the first installment of Season 3, which is now available on all major podcasting platforms. 

Click the player above to hear Ali Al Arithy tell his story of learning the English language, and subscribe to the entire season wherever podcasts are available.