Anjum Malik (left), US Chamber of Commerce, at a presentation in Alkhobar
An American educator visiting Saudi Arabia said Saudi students can have enriching educational experiences in the United States provided they are well prepared.
Anjum Malik, who is
a co-founder of the Alhambra-US Chamber of Commerce, the House of Tutors Learning Centers and its affiliated Intensive American English Institute, was in the country to conduct a training course for educators.
“Students 17 years and older are very mature and can be trusted to look after themselves and make responsible choices while studying abroad in countries such as the United States, so don’t be concerned about their safety,” Malik advises parents considering studies abroad for their children.
She said parents should have confidence in their children’s upbringing. “As parents, you have already imparted to your children the morals and values that they will carry with them throughout their lives — and they take those lessons with them to their studies in another nation as they work toward the prestigious international degree that will serve them well professionally and personally when they return home.”
Malik said proper preparation can make the difference between success and failure.
“Students from Saudi Arabia are generally very strong in international education,” she said. “I do believe many students from the Kingdom could benefit from greater understanding of the application and enrollment procedures at US universities before they begin the process as well as greater understanding of the academic norms and expectations in US higher education, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the Kingdom.”
The educator noted that the United States in some ways is less different than many people imagine. “Contrary to common perception, most medium and large cities in the US can and will cater to the cultural and religious needs of foreign students. For example, students from Saudi Arabia should have no difficulty finding an appropriate mosque or numerous restaurants and markets that serve halal food,” Malik said. “Local public and private schools will welcome the young children of students and are often excited about a new student from a different background who can help their other students learn about the world.”
The most basic needs include strength in English and a willingness to experience different things.
“Most Saudi students and their families quickly feel at ease in American cities once they become comfortable with the English language,” she said. “This is, of course, a two-way process. Saudis studying in the US also need to understand the national, state and local laws and regulations of the area in which they are living as well as displaying their own sensitivity to their host culture.”
Malik said the organizations she represents help make such transitions easier.
“Given the professional background, and in some cases, personal background, of our leadership team, Alhambra and House of Tutors understand the cultural and religious sensitivities of students and their families from countries such as Saudi Arabia. We try to embody this sensitivity and awareness into our services, and we pride ourselves on being a resource and a home away from home for these students as we help them with academic and non-academic issues while studying in the US.”
Malik said the organizations are expanding their ties with schools in Saudi Arabia.
“We are very excited about our recent partnership with the Dunes International School in Alkhobar,” she said. “They are a wonderful group of professionals, and institutions like Dunes are playing an important role in further strengthening education in the Kingdom. We look forward to working closely with them to help them achieve their goals.”
The workshops presented in Saudi Arabia are familiarizing teachers with the latest trends in education.
“We conducted a Web conference teacher training session for Dunes’ teachers led by a US-based master teacher on the topics of cutting-edge active learning theory and classroom design,” Malik said. “We have also begun working with a group of partners to look at the creation of a multipurpose distance/online learning center in Riyadh. We have also been active with multiple higher-education institutions in the Kingdom, providing advise on international accreditation, teacher training and strategic vision.”
Malik said she was impressed with Saudi Arabia’s progress and that the organizations she represents are anxious to help.
“The Kingdom has a strong educational system and is making admirable efforts to strengthen it further,” Malik said. “Alhambra and the House of Tutors are eager to work with educational institutions in Saudi Arabia that feel they can benefit from our services and experience. And we hope that Saudi families who are looking at international education will consider House of Tutors as their provider for world-class educational skills and as a home away from home for their sons or daughters.”