In Their Shoes: Saudi student also teacher
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 16:03
Walking in anyone’s footsteps is never an easy task. When you are in the footsteps of a student of two different languages it is even harder.
Finance major Nawaf Altheyab was originally from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and has been studying for a year and half at UT Martin, recently becoming a freshman after completing the English program for International Students.
“I’ve been failing purposely just to learn English,” Altheyab said.
Nawaf used to study at MTSU before coming to UTM. After hearing from his father about family friends studying in Martin, he decided to transfer. While he didn’t enjoy his time at MTSU all that much, he is enjoying his experience at UTM.
“It’s awesome… I’ve lived [in] Cooper and met some awesome people,” Altheyab said.
Originally, his father suggested that he study in England along with his brother. However, he chose to study in a place in America where he could practice English and where there wasn’t a lot of Saudi- and Arabic-speaking students.
“My father said, ‘You need to learn English; so you have to go to your brother in Australia, but there were to many Saudi’s [already] there,” Altheyab said.
Studying English is not all that Nawaf does. In addition to learning English for himself, he also helps other Arabic and Saudi Students practice English through playing games with them or doing 20 push-ups when someone uses Arabic when they shouldn’t.
Games aren’t the only way Altheyab teaches. For example, on March 18 the Saudi Arabian students held an “Arabic Night” in Cooper Basement. Everyone was full of laughter as students learned words like Hala meaning Hi and Shakran meaning Thank you.
As for socialization, Altheyab says there are complications that come with being an international student.
“It’s kind of hard to meet Americans here. I can [sometimes] find people who want to meet Saudi’s and learn Arabic, [though]. … I did it for my other Saudi Arabian friends who want to meet Americans and talk to them,” Altheyab said.However, the “Arabic Night” helped bridge the connections that sometimes are difficult to form.
“I thought it was really informative; it was easier then I thought. The Saudi students are really cool,” said freshman Computer Science major Kameron Echols.
“It’s really nice. Arabic is not that hard to learn, but [you] have [to learn] a different accent and pronunciation. It’s kind of like Spanish,” freshman international student Ali Alzumeu said.
Even if you missed the “Arabic Night,” Altheyab still encourages those who want meet the Arabic students, to come talk to them.
“I want everyone to meet each other and become friends,” Altheyab said.