Mar 292007
 
Authors: Emily Polak

CSU is set to host the first Saudi Forum of America Convention on Saturday in hopes of bringing cultural awareness to Americans and Saudi exchange students.

The Saudi Forum of America is an independent non-profit organization created to help Saudi students transition into the United States.

Khaleel Al-Yahya, a neurobiology Ph.D. candidate at CSU, is the president and co-founder of the organization.

“I want to encourage students to enjoy this life and respect it,” Al-Yahya said.

The first annual Saudi Forum convention will be held Saturday in the North Ballroom of the Lory Student Center.

“It will be a very friendly environment,” Alyahya said. “We hope that people can come enjoy our food and our lectures.”

The president of the Saudi Cultural Mission – the education department of the Saudi Embassy – will talk about issues facing Saudi and American students from 2 to 4 p.m. and there will be a panel of two male and two female Saudi students talking about what it is like being a Saudi in the United States from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

“These students don’t have their language, they are young; they come from a very closed society to an open one,” Al-Yahya said. “It is important to build a bridge of communication, understanding and trust between the two sides.”

Petra Edwards, assistant director of admissions at CSU, said there are about 128 Saudi students attending CSU through a scholarship program.

“It is helpful to have someone who’s been at the university for so long and knows both cultures,” Edwards said. “The students trust him.”

The Saudi Forum is a world wide organization approved by the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Al-Yahya said he considers CSU one of the best places for Saudis to study because of the welcoming, accepting atmosphere and the positive experience that he has had while studying here for seven years.

‘We aren’t just doing this locally,” he said. “We are trying to communicate with every single Saudi student.”

Staff writer Emily Polak can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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