Kuwaitis in America
There are over 2000 Kuwaiti students in Universities all over the U.S. It is really interesting to see how these students try to fit in a society that is totally different than
|Student Future's Soccer in Washington DC for more pictures look at the slide show here|
their home country. Some of them try to blend in the American culture, and experience every thing of the so called American dream, while others prefer to preserve their traditions. Either or, there is no doubt that all these students have one thing in mind: they want to get the best education they could possibly have. They have a responsibility to gain knowledge and bring it back home for the good of their country.
Like many International students, Kuwaiti students tend to cluster in certain cities or states. Today we see many Kuwaitis in California, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They like to be next to each other to feel a sense of security and comfort. Being a Kuwaiti student myself, when I first came to America in 2001, I decided to go to Fresno, California because it was one of those cities that had a large number of Kuwaiti students. I was completely lost when I first arrived, but fortunately the students in Fresno made life easier for me. They helped me with the essentials: looking for an apartment, getting a phone, opening a bank account and getting a driver’s license. Now that I have lived in America for over four years, it is my job to help any incoming students, and believe it or not, it is one of the greatest privileges—there’s nothing better than helping and comforting your fellow countrymen during difficult times.
Not all Kuwaitis look for the comfort. Some students have greater academic goals in mind, so you see them choose a certain city because they want to study in one of the top schools in the nation. I have actually done that when I chose to do my Master’s degree at the University of Florida. There aren’t a lot of Kuwaitis here, but surely, the journalism department is one of the top in the nation.
National Union Of Kuwaiti Students-NUKS
Kuwait ’s democratic nature can be easily recognized in the way Kuwaiti students elect their student government or NUKS. The Kuwaiti government and other prominent figures and institutions in Kuwait sponsor NUKS to support Kuwaiti students in America. NUKS has many responsibilities including:
- Organize and sponsor leisure activities for students around the U.S.
- Communicate student’s concerns and issues with Kuwaiti authorities.
- Guide students—especially freshmen—in how to cope with the American life.
NUKS consists of nine representatives voted by Kuwaiti students. Every Thanksgiving recess, NUKS organizes an annual convention where prominent political and celebrity figures are invited to meet with Kuwaiti students in America. But more importantly, the convention is when many Kuwaitis meet in one place and vote for their new representatives. There are usually two parties competing for NUKS seats: Al-Wihda (United) Al Mustaqbal Al Tulaby (Student Future). Both parties work all year long for the same goal of providing as much as possible to Kuwaiti students, but what separates them is their ideologies. Student Future is a conservative party that emphasizes the importance of preserving religion and traditions when students try to blend in the American culture. United, however, has a more liberal approach. Being an active member of Student Future myself, I would like to share with you some of how this student group works.
- The goal is to make every student feel as if he or she is at home, so we try to visit as much cities as possible and organize some activities. Past activities included group dinners, bowling and soccer tournaments. Click here for a slide show of Student Future's spring 2006 activities.
- We have a web page for students to see what we are doing. More importantly the web site has other useful links like a public forum where students communicate their day to day issues.
- We have a monthly online student magazine. This magazine carries topics about issues concerning Kuwait. Students are also welcome to submit any articles.
- We have a radio show, where we try to interview some students and some prominent figures in Kuwait.
Working with a party is just a great experience as you get to meet many Kuwaitis around the U.S, see what concerns them and try to help them out. While the two parties compete all year long, the student is the greatest gainer, and as we always remind ourselves when we deal with politics: Election day is just one day, but our friendship lasts for ever. So as students from one country my advice is that we shouldn’t let politics ruin our friendships.
Al-Wihda is currently in control of NUKS. They are doing a great job, but let’s see what this year holds for Student Future.
I interviewed some of my Kuwaiti colleagues about life in America, so letís see what they had to say
Abdullah Al Mutairi
Did you experience a culture shock when you came to America, and if so, how did you cope with it?
At first, Cultural and language barriers made it intimidating for me to interact with Americans. Because I was different, I thought that people would not accept me. Fortunately I have grown to learn that diversity is no more than a learning experience. I have gained so much from the American culture, and I'm pretty sure that my American colleagues have learned few things from me.