Saudi Arabian International Students in America
Every new non-resident immigrant individual experiences hurdles in adapting to a new environment. The same applies to the international students who seek to further their education in a foreign land. The international students in the United States of America have a problem adapting to their new environment because of a sudden change from their conventional home countries (Creswell, 2012). First, most of the students from non-English speaking countries have a problem studying in English. A good example is a student who originates from Arabic countries, such as Saudi Arabia (Yavas, 2011).
From my findings, it can be argued that the main problems faced by the Saudi Arabian students In American universities are the cultural identities cut across gender, sexual orientation, religion, and age. In this case, it was evident that each student has his or her own level of sensitivity, awareness, and competence in a multicultural education environment. According to Henson (2015), the education system should implement critical reform and planning in a manner that should consider the need for multicultural education. Henson (2015) delves deep into the issues that affect the system by analyzing various case studies and interviewing educators.
As for the cultural differences, most of the international students including the ones from the Saudi Arabian students experience this problem while undertaking further studies in the United States of America. American is known to be associated with multiple cultures. However, most of the countries have only one culture that almost every citizen exercises. Saudi Arabia is a good example of such countries because most of the citizens follow Islamic culture. Therefore, upon reaching America, they experience the cultural dynamism of the new country. Most of the students from Saudi Arabia feel that some of the mannerisms that seem normal in America are unacceptable in their home country. Still on the cultural difference, Saudi Arabia students also tend to experience family nostalgia feelings. It is important to note that most of the families in the Saudi Arabia have strong ties. Therefore, they always experience a longing for their families back home (Richardson & Smith, 2012).
From the findings, it can be argued that Saudi Arabian students in America suffer too much from the challenges they experience. Most importantly, the problem of stereotyping them as being terrorists by some sections of the Americans has been very annoying to them. Furthermore, it was also evident that another challenge that students from Saudi Arabia face is their inability to coexist in a religious diverse environment like America. It is important to note that Saudi Arabia is not a multicultural and multi-religious country as is the case of America (Zahrani, 2010). Therefore, it is understandable when they fail to readjust to the multicultural and multi-religious society like that of America (Weiss, 1995). The good news is that with relevant training, international students from less cultural dynamic societies can be help on how to overcome such problem.
On the other hand, the problem of stereotyping all Muslim faiths to be terrorists not only dehumanizes the Muslims international students in America but also put their moral values to test. However, through sensitization and education, a campaign can be undertaken against stereotyping the Muslims to be terrorists. With regard to language barrier, language-training program as a second language can be instituted for all of the international students having problems with English language (Rosen, 2010).
Another problem that the international students from Saudi Arabia face in America is gender in equality in their country. Women in America have a high social status compared to Saudi Arabia where women are considered to be of a low social caste. Even though, America does not have the same gender parity levels as most of the European countries, women in America have equal access to opportunities such as education and jobs in the labour market hence have a remarkable number of achievements(Golla, Malhotra, Nanda & Mehra, 2011). In American universities some courses have, a high number of women enrolled compared to women. Women coming from Saudi Arabia are much more likely to blend in the environment since it offers women the same opportunities as men. As a result, all the schools and universities in different parts of the world should explore multicultural education, education, and leadership to ensure social equity in the educational spectrum.
Cultural competence theory can be used to explain how individuals can coexist harmoniously in a multi cultural environment just like in the case of the American universities. It is important to note that there are four components of the cultural competence namely awareness of an individual’s views of the world and awareness of different cultural practices around the world. The other two include the individual attitude in regards to the differences in cultural practices as well as the skills of an individuals in dealing with the cross cultures. As a result, for the individuals to survive in a cultural diverse environment just as in the case of Saudi Arabian students’ case in American universities, they must exhibit a combination of these components of the cultural competency theory (Leavitt, 2010).
According to the cultural shack theory, human beings are adaptive creatures as a result; they tend to readjust to their new surroundings within a very short time. Psychologists have attributed the overall success of this theory to the tendency of human beings to readjust their behaviors in accordance to their surroundings. Consequently, this theory has tried to explain how individuals are able to survive in a new surrounding with very new cultural practices. On the same note, cultural shack theory can be used to explain why a section of the international students from Saudi Arabia has successfully overcome the problem of the cultural difference in the America (Audrey, 2013).
Saudi Arabian students’ plight in the universities in America is just a tip of an iceberg. Very many international students also suffer from the same fate. In order to address some of the issues affecting the students in the American universities, are supposed to implement both the cultural shack theory and the cultural competence theory in order to come up with enabling learning environment for the international students. Therefore, it is recommended that the pertinent for education institutions should create the conditions that matter such as factoring students from diverse cultural backgrounds in order to ensure that the students achieve high success in their education. Therefore, the findings from this study will be very helpful in assisting the future international students from experiencing the same problems. However, just as the two theories that are discussed here namely the cultural shack theory and the Cultural competence theory, the best remedy for these challenges is when we realize that we are one entity regardless of our cultural and geographical differences. In addition, knowing and embracing of different cultures across the world is the key towards the harmonious coexistence in a multicultural environment like the case of the American universities.
Unfortunately, the only research that has been conducted with the aim of understanding the needs and plight of international students is a general one. However, much of the emphasis has been placed on the Asian students. Therefore, little is known concerning the plight of the Saudi Arabian students in the United States of America. This implies that not much has been done to assist Saudi Arabia students studying in the United States of America. In addition, several studies have been conducted in Saudi Arabia to determine the perception of international students especially from Europe and America concerning their understanding of the education system and their plight as they pursue education in Saudi Arabia (Peacock, 2012).
Very little efforts have been conducted in America. In this case, this study will not only be helpful for the American universities but also the American government. They can use the findings and recommendation of this study to improve the plight of the international student especially those from Arabic countries. Moreover, much can be learnt from Saudi Arabia on how they have managed to bridge the gap between the local and international students. Most importantly, one of the purposes of this paper is to act as the voice of the voiceless Saudi Arabia students studying in the United States of America so that their plight can be known with the aim of finding ways of managing those (Ayoub & Lipsky, 2014).
One of the ways of improving the education environments is changing the education curriculums in the higher learning institutions of America that can take into account the diversity of students. The Saudi women were highly motivated to succeed in this environment and they never looked back. The multicultural environment was not harsh to them. Majority of American universities and colleges have a co-educational setting hence, the women learnt how to interact with men and women. These women learnt that the American culture provides equal access opportunities to women in education and jobs and they were not ready to let that slip away. The Saudi women also consulted many women working in senior positions in the faculty and staff on tips for successful careers and education. The women also learnt to work in groups with people of diverse cultural backgrounds. According to Sleeter (2011), the staff members of any university are supposed to be equipped with multicultural education in order to change how they perceive students thus increasing their productivity and improving their teaching skills.
It can be unfair to focus only on the bad experiences that the international students face in America. Majority of the international students including those from the Saudi Arabia have confessed that they are finding studying in America not only exciting but also adventurous. Moreover, they are also impressed with the hospitable nature of American people because they are more than willing to offer assistance, as well as answer questions whenever possible. Therefore, many studies need to be conducted to assess the circumstances when American can be either irritating or hospitable to foreigners with the aim of preventing the international students from being exposed to avoidable humiliations (Nord, 2013).
From the findings in the research, the women from Saudi Arabia were highly motivated from their experience in the American universities and colleges. Au (2013) puts forward that the attitudes, sheer will power and systemic change play a key role in a multicultural environment and have a strong influence in literacy achievement of students. The Saudi women took a short to blend in the environment. This was due to the high number of women enrolled in the universities and colleges. The women undertook their praying activities normally because of religious tolerance. The education curriculum of the US universities and colleges takes into account languages differences and during the first of their studies, foreign students from non-English speaking countries are required to take a course in English.
This study will not only assist in addressing the plight of the Saudi Arabian students in America but also provide a platform for the formulation of policies that will ensure a lasting solution for all the international students. However, it is important to note that this study will bring the implication of unity and harmony among different countries and America.
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