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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (May 1, 1978)
arabian oil money buys technology, change
by ray walden
15corge Rakish in his four years and
Maisun Allahiq in her two years in Lincoln
have put aside some illusions about the
United States. They and other members of
the UNL Arab Students Association want
to shake Americans free of prejudices
about the Arab states.
"Not every Arab student is a sheik,"
Allahiq, a 19-year-old Saudi Arabian archi
tecture student, said. She describef Ameri
ca's view of her country as "mainly oil,
rich sheiks and sand. And that every Arab
is a terrorist."
"Americans hear only one side of the
story," she said, "their side. It's very
important that they hear the other side . . .
They should learn more about other
Better understanding between Arabs
and Americans is the purpose of the Arab
student group, according to Kakish, a 24-year-old
Jordanian senior studying civil
engineering. To this end, some of the
group's 65 members arrange international
parties and lectures about Middle East
problems in Lincoln churches and other
Kakish and Allahiq described their
homelands as nations in rapid change.
Allahiq said Saudi Arabia is changing
for the better, although "some ideas might
have been adopted too soon and the people
weren't ready for it." Oil money in Saudi
Arabia is buying American technology,
which is the instrument of change.
"The people are changing faster than
the government," she said. "The people are
moving faster for advancement, and the
government is not keeping up with the
Kakish said outdated laws and a poorly
organized bureaucracy hamper Jordan in
the face of rapid development. Parts of the
American model of government would
help, he said.
The engineering student noted in parti
cular a bad highway system which could
use American-style reform.
Change is coming now to the Arab
world because of education and money, he
Arab governments invest some of that
money in scholarships for students abroad.
Allahiq and Kakish both support their
studies privately, but Allahiq said most
Arab students at UNL are here on govern
ment scholarships. In Jordan, each year on
scholarship creates two years of obligation
to government service.
Communication was a problem for
Kakish his first semester in Lincoln, al
though he had studied English in high
school. He said he has adopted well to
necessary English words, such as engineer
ing terms, but not so well otherwise.
Allahiq, on the other hand, speaks
almost flawless English, the result of
language study since kindergarten and
school in England before coming to the
United States. Still, she found America to
be "a whole totally different world."
Close family ties at home resulted in a
year or two of homesickness for Kakish.
But he said he eventually adapted.
While study abroad means isolation and
frustration for some students, Allahiq
claims to be relaxed here.
"I've made a lot of friends in my dorm
and in my classes," she said. American stu
dents accept her, she said, though some
feel sorry for her-without reason.
"They're very curious toward me," she
Kakish plans to graduate this summer
and return to Jordan for three years of
government work. His government requires
a term of public service for all doctors and
engineers, he said. He hopes to use his
education to make a better life for his
For Allahiq, there is no government
obligation. She expects to find her future
with a private firm or on her own as an
While Kakish plans to take parts of
America back with him to Saudi Arabia,
he doesn't agree with everything American.
He said his countrymen do not dislike the
American people, but they do dislike U.S.
foreign policy in some areas.
The main point of difference is U.S. aid
to Israel. He said the United States is not
pushing hard enough to restore a Palestin
Another disagreement focuses on U.S.
policy in developing countries. The govern
ment's motive in helping countries is
economic control, he said, not friendship.
L 1 pwr If V
- p2 , ' , ,J
Photo by Mark Billingsley
Maisun Allahiq (left) and George Kakish say Americans hold unjustified stereotypes
against the Arab ststes.
by ray walden
muslim student from a traditional
Islamic country faces not only culture
shock when he comes to study in America,
he also risks the loss of his identity.
Everyday life in Lincoln has elements
that are strange for any foreign student,
but for muslims these elements may go be
yond strange to religiously prohibited.
"There are many chances for them to go
astray," said Mohamed Ismail, Muslim Stu
dent Association president. "We try to get
in touch with students when they come
and tell them about these aspects. We want
them to live a clean and healthy life here,
and when they go back we don't want
them to be aliens in their own country."
What can be dangerous? Women.
Islam teaches strict separation of men
and women. Muslim women must not show
their beauty. Premarital sex is punishable
by death. The muslim man has had no
chance of friendship with women.
Suddenly the newly arrived muslim stu
dent is confronted with a halter-topped
woman in the next seat of his classroom, or
bikini-clad sunbathers. And the restrictions
of his society are gone.
At home such restrictions may seem
more traditional than religious. Foreign
study breaks the student free of the
religious circle, according to Said Martan, a
Saudi Arabian working on a Ph.D. in econ
omics. Here it is a challenge to separate
tradition from religion, he said.
The shock of proximity, to women can
break a muslim student's concentration on
his studies and may even destroy an educa
tional career, Ismail, a 39-year-old Ph.D.
candidate in curriculum administration
from southern India, said.
Other American behaviors which Islam
prohibits are eating pork, smoking and
drinking alcohol, he said.
The purpose of the Muslim Student
Association is to help its members adjust to
life in America and it the same time keep
their tradition, culture and beliefs, Ismail
The association also helps with practical
matters such as finding lodging, and spirit
ual matters such as celebrating the birth of
the prophet Mohammed.
.nother function is public relations.
The group provides speakers for lectures on
Islam and comparative religions for
schools, churches, college classes and meet
ings at the Nebraska Penal Correctional
"Mostly we try to dispel the misconcep
tions prevailing about Islam," Ismail said.
Religious restrictions against such "signs of
progress" as alcoholism and premarital sex
have mislabeled Islam as a conservative
religion which opposes progress and which
is ill-suited to modem life, he said.
The recent rise in Arab world-power has
spurred an interest in Islam, he said. But he
cautioned that the way to learn about the
religion is to study the Koran and not to
look at the muslim people.
"You find a wide gulf between what the
muslims believe and what you see the
muslims practicing in muslim countries,"
In practice, many Islamic values are lost,
Martan said. Islam promotes universal edu
cation and democracy, he said, but only
recently have Saudi women been educated.
Many of the more than 40 muslim count
ries are dictatorships.
"There is no country in the world that
applies Islam absolutely," he said.
Technological change in traditional
Islamic nations is diluting practice of the
religion with ideologies of the East and
West, he said.
"The more the country is open, the
more danger there is to Islam," Martan
said. "We don't want to be followers of
either the East or West. . . We believe
that we have the solutions in Islam."
majority of foreign students from third world
More than 800 foreign students attend
UNL this semester. Figures from the Inter
national Educational Services office vary
with the time of year, but, according to
coordinator Peter Levitov, there were
478 undergraduate and 414 graduate
Third World countries dominate
Lincoln's academic foreign colony. En
rollment figures reflect the focus of
developing countries on technical and
agricultural skills. The dominant study pre
ferences of foreign students are engineer
ing, agriculture, business and architecture.
Men outnumber women six to one
among full-time student, Levitov said. The
average age of foreign students is older
than that of American students-signifi-cantly
older for graduates.
Most come from developing countries in
Asia or Africa, according to an IES study
which divides 833 foreign students into
their countries of origin. The top 10 are
as follows: Iran 156
Hong Kong 59
Vietnam 3 1
Pakistan 1 8
Of those from the remaining 69 nations,
fewer than half are from industrialized
Levitov said his office offers foreign stu
dents an orientation program when they
arrive to help them adjust to the new
culture. At the end of their stay, there are
workshops for students returning home
which attempt to ease their re-entry into
once-familiar societies which may have
changed while they were away.
"The person who is optimally adjusted
is both in his own culture and the other
one," he said. Foreigfi students associations
can ease the adjustment either by reinforc
ing cultural background or giving security
for students who sense a campus attitude
Many foreign students report that
language differences add to their sense of
cultural shock. But admission standards
eliminate some of this problem. One re
quirement for a student visa is an English
proficiency test for those from non -English
-speaking countries. Other criteria for
admission are an academic background and
full financial support.
monday, may 1, 1978
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