Iraqi Students Glad to Be at SIUC
|January 30, 2011||Filled under Uncategorized|
CARBONDALE – Aamal Al-Saadi waited for ages to get the chance to continue her education in the United States.
Last summer she got her chance. Al-Saadi, a graduate student in microbiology from Al Diwaniyah, Iraq, is one of 16 students who came to SIUC from Iraq as part of the Higher Committee for Education Development program.
The program was set up by the Iraqi government, which includes SIUC alumni Zuhair Humadi. The students are learning English at the Center for English as a Second Language.
“(Carbondale) is a nice place with good people,” Al-Saadi said. “I love to have conversations with American people, students and teachers so I chose the USA to study.”
Moatasem Al-Ridha, a graduate student in computer engineering from Mosul, said he has been in the country for five months and so far he likes SIUC and Carbondale.
“I think it’s really good and there are many professors in my college that are very good,” Al-Ridha said.
Carla Coppi, director of International Students and Scholars at SIUC, said the campus’ relationship with Iraq is not exactly brand new. In fact, the very first international student at SIUC was Iraqi Saad Jaber in 1947.
“Our connection with the people in Iraq is what is bringing our students here,” Coppi said.
While a boost in enrollment is something administrators at SIUC is not going to turn away, more students benefit the region by paying tuition and contributing to the local economy.
“Just think what they are going to make a wonderful contribution to the diversity of the campus,” Coppi said.
But being in Carbondale is a bit different for the students in Iraq. In a new country, what does one do for entertainment? What does one do when they don’t know anyone, not even the students from their home country? That doesn’t dampen the experience for Al-Saadi. She said she really misses her family and friends but the opportunity was well worth it.
“I love SIU because it gives me an opportunity to come to America,” Al-Saadi said. “I hope to get a Ph.D. and graduate from the department, and I wish to be successful and to make many friends even when I go back to Iraq.”
For the most part she enjoys improving her English speaking and writing skills. While entertainment is a bit slim for the students they probably wouldn’t have time for it anyway because studying takes center stage because becoming the best and brightest, which is why they came here in the first place. Al-Saadi said she plans to return to Iraq after she completes her education.
“My country needs my experience,” Al-Saadi said.
Al-Ridha said he already works as an instructor in Mosul but hopes to complete his education and return home to teach a practical lab.
“My country needs me,” Al-Ridha said. “There is a big gap between my country and new information. This is my dream.”
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