Sample Paper on The characteristics of American Students and Faculty


As a result of my research three major themes emerged:

The characteristics of American Students and Faculty:

All of the participants agree that American people at U, in general, are friendly, helpful, and nice. One of the participant stated, “ I think the secret of their success is their smile”. Another one said, “ every time I need help, my instructors and my classmates give it without hesitation”.  Some of the participants indicated that a faculty member at U is one of the factors that support them and encourage them in their academic development. One of the participants said, “even though American students are friendly, I cannot ask them help because they are so busy. They always work even in the weekend” Also, most of the participant (5 participants) realized that American people at U are curious about other cultures because they ask a lot of questions when they meet them. One of the participant said, “it is a good thing that they ask me because I would like to give them the right information about my country, they may have heard something wrong from the media or somewhere else”. On the other hand, one of the participants illustrated that she doesn’t feel confortable about their questions because she thinks that they don’t talk with her or help her until she answers a lot of questions about her appearance and culture. When I asked the participants “what are the questions that you usually heard?” They have agreed that most of the questions are related to their appearance and why they wear hijab. “Is their any difference between single or married women in hijab?” “Do the colors have any meaning in the hijab?” “Do America women have to wear hijab in Saudi Arabia?” Also, they ask about some issues that are related to Saudi women such as “why women cannot drive a car in Saudi Arabia?” Or some issues related to religion such as “why Muslims cannot eat pork or drink alcohol?” Some of the participants said, “It is not easy to me to answer their questions especially for some complicated issues…how can I explain why I cannot drive in Saudi Arabia? They don’t know that the traffic in my country is so crazy and it is dangerous even for men. Also, men in Saudi Arabia take care of women and if they cannot give her a ride, they bring driver for her.”

Multicultural Concept for American Students and Faculty: 

According to the literature review I can divined the multicultural concept to two parts:

Multicultural awareness and Knowledge:

When I asked the participants about multicultural awareness and knowledge of students and faculty at U, a lot of them responded that American students and faculty understand that there are different cultures around the world and they used to live in a multicultural environment. However, they think that American students and faculty know more about South America, European countries and China. Also, some participants think that people at U don’t know about Saudi Arabia or the other Arab countries, one of the participants said, “They don’t know anything about my country. They even don’t know where it is. They only know Dubai and they ask me if it is the same thing.” Another participant said, “they know about my country, but unfortunately, what they know is almost wrong.” When I asked the participants about wrong ideas that they have heard from American people at U, they have illustrated some wrong ideas such as: Saudi people are rich, Saudi people are stupid, Saudi people still use camels instead of cars, Muslims are terrorists, Saudi women cover their heads because they are bald, Saudi women wear hijab all the time even at home…etc.

Multicultural skills:

As the participants illustrated, faculty members have good multicultural skills more than students. Some of the participants think that the reason behind that is that faculty members should deal with all students in the same way and they expect having students from different cultures and countries. Other participants think that faculty members have more education and experience, so they understand and respect other cultures. When I asked them about some examples that could explain that, some participants talked about their department and how all the faculty in the department want them to feel comfortable and how they have flexibility to change some plans to be more appropriate for them. For example, one of the participants said “in my department, we used to have a meeting in the end of the semester, they feel that I don’t feel comfortable if they meet in a bar or the like, so they change that for me.” Another one said, “Before the meeting, they told me that they have (Halal) food. I think they do it for me and I am thankful for that.” Also, some of the participants indicated that a lot of their classmates do the same thing. One of the participants said, “ I remember that a male student in my class brought his girlfriend with him in the car when he gave me a ride, he said that he knew I would not go with him without her.” Also, a lot of the participants indicated that they used to hear words of encouragement from their faculty or classmates. One of the participants said, “one of my faculty said he couldn’t imagine that he studies his master in another language that he has just learned the same way I did.” Also, a lot of the participants used to hear “ I like your scarf, I like your outfit…etc. from other women.” On the other hand, all of the participants have encountered verbal abuse from students on campus. One of the participants said, “I cannot say that it is something common because there are a lot of good people here, but one day when I was walking on campus, one person called me a black crow because I was wearing black hijab.” Another one said, “ I take one class with undergraduate students, in this class I feel scared because other students keep looking at me with sharp looks”

Communication and Friendship:

  • Language

The English language is one of the biggest challenges for most of the participants, lack of fluency, wrong pronunciation of some vocabulary are common things that they encounter. Some of the participants think that even though they have some difficulty in the language, they can communicate well and American students and faculty encourage them to talk. On the other hand, some participants think that some students don’t like to talk with them or they avoid communicating with them because of the language. One of the participants said, “I don’t have any problem in English and sometimes they think that I was born and have been living in US since I was a child”

  • Cultural differences

All the participants agree that the differences between Saudi culture, which follows the Islamic instructions, and American culture, which has more freedom, is the most important factor that could prevent the communication or make it limited. There are many differences between the two cultures such as family structure, the relationship between people in the community (students and teachers, parents and kids, men and women…etc.) So, this could affect what is an appropriate topic to discuss. For example: one of the participants said that “There are some topics that is not accepted for me and I cannot share my classmate when they talk about such as dating, drinking…also”, another one focused on some topic that American people are interested in. She Said, “American students love to talk about movies and they use them even in classroom to illustrate…for me, sometimes I don’t know what they are talking about especially if I haven’t seen the movie or if they are talking about some proverbs that I don’t know.”

  • International experience

Some of the participants agree that faculty members or students who have international experience have more multicultural concept. The international experience includes: study abroad, traveling around the world, has a spouse, friends or relatives from another country. One of the participants explained the relationship between her and her professor:

“ The relationship between me and Dr. H’donore is very strong, she understands me and understands my feeling. Always she tries to help me because she has same experience. She was an international student and she visited many countries and she speaks five languages”

Another participant presented some reasons that she would like to have international students friends. She said, “They live the same experience as me and they try to explore America the same way I do. Also, they miss their families as I do. They also have the same questions and reactions about some issues”

  • Co-education

Co-education is new for female Saudi students, so when I asked them about how multicultural concept affect their communication with men especially in co-education environments, the opinions about this topic varied because some participants think it is a good thing that female students can talk and contact the male instructors directly. In Saudi Arabia they don’t have co-education, but for some majors the male instructor can teach female students online classes. However, for all participants, they don’t like to have male friends and they don’t feel comfortable if they work with a group that has a lot of males. Also, because they think that keeping a distance between men and women is important.