MSU’s Saudi Students Club has three primary goals. The first is to serve as a resource for Saudi students studying at MSU. The second is to share their country’s values, culture and traditions with non-Saudis. The third is to give back to the community in which they live and learn.
“We want to show people our true selves and represent our values as a Saudi society, not just what they may see on the news or in movies,” said Nawaf Al Saudah, president of the club. “We are here to be good students, first, and to be respectful of our teachers, the University and the community.”
Al Saudah is pursuing a Master of Science in Engineering and Technology Management (MSETM) degree and will graduate in May. Thinking about his own first weeks in the United States, he said, “Many Saudis are afraid of talking with Americans when they first arrive. It can be intimidating to be in a very different place with a new culture. The club can help connect students to their peers and to MSU resources.”
The club's busy calendar includes academic, social, philanthropic and cultural events. According to Mutlaq Alammaj, the club’s social affairs representative, the students stay focused on their academic performance but also emphasize campus and community involvement.
“In the fall, we honored our faculty. Teachers are very important in our culture. We wanted them to know we appreciate the knowledge they impart to us,” said Alammaj. He will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems and plans to pursue the MSETM.
The club sponsored a Free Doughnut Day during Fall 2017 Finals Week, handing out free doughnuts to students, only asking for a smile in return.
“We wanted them not to feel so worried that week, to feel peaceful. Peace is who we are,” said Alammaj.
Dr. Ahmad Zargari, associate dean for the School of Engineering and Information Systems, serves as the club’s advisor. “It is an honor for me to serve as an advisor to these students. They strive for excellence in all that they do.”
Al Saudah said he certainly still identifies with his home country, but now also sees himself as a Kentuckian and an Eagle as well. “It is a powerful opportunity to learn here,” he said. “We want to make sure other students know that, not just Saudi students.
“We want to leave here knowing we did something good for this place. It has become home, too,” added Alammaj.
The Saudi Students Club at MSU was established in Fall 2017. There are seven members who serve on their student leadership board. Total membership from which they draw participation and volunteers is about 120 students.