The Arka Tech

Break the ice with international students

Submitted By Ahmed Bahassan

As an international student who has been in the U.S. for almost a year, I am so thankful for being welcomed and embraced.

However, I have seen many things I would consider as odd or based on my culture inappropriate,  which normal when being exposed to a new culture.

At the same time, while I am here representing my culture, I could do what seems strange to others.

The contrastive point is that I will go and ask — if I observe what I think is weird, I will ask.

Why would not my new friends do the same? Why would they not come and ask?

For instance, if they saw a women covering her face, I understand how that could be uncomfortable. They should come forward and ask. She already knows and feels the looks, even if they are hidden.

If you saw someone at a corner moving, kneeling and prostrating, come and ask. If you saw a man apologizing for not shaking hand with a woman, do not be judgmental and  accuse him of being rude, just come and ask.

Here is an example. I went to Six Flags Over Texas last August. It was hot like Hell. Everybody was wearing short pants and cut-off T-shirts, while my wife was wearing a hijab, which is a scarf to cover her hair and neck, with a long-sleeved gown. Distinctly, she looked different. From other perspectives, it is illogical to wear such clothing in such weather. Certainly, there is a reasonable explanation for her to do so.

The international community is gradually growing. In a small town like Russellville, encountering other cultures on campus, in downtown and of course at Walmart would be a norm.

My opinion precisely is to unite international students with the local and domestic society. Thus, international students would feel more warmed and welcomed.

These dilemmas will be solved by the initiative of others to ask about cultural diversities.

We have the answers, just come and take them.