Jan 222006
Authors: Margaret Canty

Moaath Almanie came from Saudi Arabia to the United States only a few weeks ago and is beginning to feel at home at CSU.

"Everyone here has been very welcoming, kind and very friendly," he said.

Almanie is one of 5,000 full-ride scholarship recipients that include tuition, travel and living expenses given to Saudis to study anywhere in the United States.

Early last year, after meeting in Texas, President George W. Bush and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah decided to promote a scholarship program to better relations between citizens of the two countries, after a severe drop in Saudi students in the United States since the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

"We started receiving more (Saudi) applications in August and many began attending this semester," said Lindsay Ishman , the assistant director of Admissions.

Many feel the scholarships will have a positive effect.

"The students coming from Saudi Arabia act as ambassadors of good will," Ishman said.

Saudi scholarship recipients live in several of the residence halls and university apartments. Many are working to fulfill their English proficiency requirements before taking classes.

"Most (of the Saudi exchange students) are in the International English Program (IEP) and will begin academic studies next year," Isham said.

The IEP is a program designed to teach foreign students English so they can eventually take regular classes.

"The program is very beneficial. Many who start it know no English, so it starts very basic and goes step by step," said Bader Al-Hawwas , a CSU graduate from Saudi Arabia with a degree in computer information systems. "You can see a huge difference from starting the program. It's good for all foreign students."

The program isn't just for Saudis, but all foreign students.

"There's lots of diversity in the IEP program," Al-Hawwas said. "You make friends from all over, get together and learn more then just one culture and language."

Almanie hopes to finish the IEP this school year, because he already can speak the language from living with some of his English-speaking relatives and watching television.

"I thought, 'why not go to America?' I love America and I love movies," said Almanie about his decision to apply for a scholarship.

The number of CSU Saudi Arabian students, 49 in fall of 2005, has already increased, and Ishman predicts it will double.

"CSU is a great school for foreign students. It's a small town; it's friendly. You don't need to have a car, you can take a bus for free and it's not expensive," Al-Hawwass said. "Fort Collins is very good."

Margaret Canty can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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