By Rawaa Ali

America’s higher education is of the highest quality. According to the Times rating, seven of the top ten universities around the world and 76 out of the top 200 universities are located in the United States. Thanks to the sheer size of the United States and the large number of universities, it provides educational and life options to suit each individual student. As technology progresses and the sustainability of communities progresses, the need for college-educated citizens has increased. However, the rise in educational expenses and college fees have increasingly become an obstacle for students.

In our tour to meet and interview some of the resident and scholarship students to learn about the experiences and difficulties which they face, we found that the biggest obstacle in their way to achieve their ambition is the financial cost. Although there are many financial aid options available,  the greatest fear these students have is how to repay loans and benefits, which are a great burden on students and their families.

The English language, as described by Saudi student Rezaz Bahabry, “is the first obstacle which face the Arabic [exchange] student. It excludes us from the Arab community who were raised in America. Even after passing the language test and receiving university acceptance, there is still the challenge of learning and understanding the scientific material itself and learning the English language at the same time. We should practice the language daily, but as girls, our relationships are limited because of our customs and traditions. So you find us with family or close friends and they are mostly of Arab origin. In comparison with boys, we find that their friendships and relations are broader, which helps them a lot in developing their English language faster”. Rezaz is studying her master’s degree in the Department of Nutrition at Howard University in Washington.

As an expatriate student, Rezaz does not complain about the financial challenges, although her educational, accommodation, and life expenses cost more than the financial support provided to her. Her major complaint is with the conditions that some universities follow which require more payment to universities. Rezaz stated that “intentionally, some universities follow strict conditions and postpone the date of graduation as we need additional lessons because we are weak in the English Language. The scholarship covers the expenses of the three-year master’s degree. With the three-month postponement of my graduation, I paid $6000 of my own money, rather than three additional hours. Other Saudi students in the program have the same issue.”

19-year-old Renad Salem feels that there is discrimination in obtaining university acceptance when compared with American students, and it’s more complicated with the district conditions, which vary from university to university.  Renad faced a lot of obstacles in receiving acceptance for studying medicine. She believed it was because of her Arabic origin, stating, “I have completed high school and junior high school in Washington, D.C., at Alice Deal Middle School and then at Wilson High School, and volunteered five years ago with one of the organizations to participate in community service programs. This is a prerequisite for university studies, despite the very good grades I had, I feel some difficulties Arab students have in being accepted in the medical field. The university had stricter conditions for me as opposed to the American students, who can be accepted somewhat easier. But I was willing to do whatever it took to finish the admission requirements and finally get my scholarship from Gwynedd Mercy University, Pennsylvania, and be the first Saudi Arab student to be accepted to study medicine at the university.

Another expatriate student, Abdullah Yemeni, felt there were no problems with most expatriate students and believes that the students’ problems are because of the university controls and acceptance requirements. He thinks that financial obstacles may be one of the problems facing students who need loans, and he stressed the need for developing the English Language at free community colleges that exist in all U.S. cities and states.

“I am a Saudi student who does not complain about the financial problems, and I advise all Arab students to develop their English in the free and available community colleges. Today I feel happy after I finished studying English for two years at Nova. I’m ready to take the TOEFL test and apply to study Science & Technology and computers in one of the universities soon,” Abdullah said.

Despite the obstacles faced by many students, Arabs and Americans alike, with persistence and the desire for success and excellence offered by American universities in the sciences, employment opportunities for Arab American students will be more accessible, and the promotion of economic growth of the United States will increase allowing for the closed doors in the business area to finally be opened.

‬بقلم‭ ‬رواء‭ ‬علي

يتميز‭ ‬نظام‭ ‬التعليم‭ ‬العالي‭ ‬في‭ ‬أمريكا‭ ‬بجودته‭ ‬العالية،‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬يوجد‭ ‬في‭ ‬أمريكا‭ ‬وحدها‭ ‬سبع‭ ‬من‭ ‬أصل‭ ‬أفضل‭ ‬10‭ ‬جامعات‭ ‬على‭ ‬مستوى‭ ‬العالم‭ ‬طبقاً‭ ‬لتصنيف‭ ‬التايمز،‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬توجد‭ ‬76‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬من‭ ‬أفضل‭ ‬200‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬على‭ ‬مستوى‭ ‬العالم‭ ‬في‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬الأمريكية‭. ‬وبفضل‭ ‬الحجم‭ ‬الهائل‭ ‬للولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬وعدد‭ ‬جامعاتها‭ ‬الكبير،‭ ‬فهي‭ ‬تقدم‭ ‬من‭ ‬الخيارات‭ ‬التعليمية‭ ‬والحياتية‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يناسب‭ ‬كل‭ ‬طالب‭ ‬على‭ ‬حده‭. ‬ومع‭ ‬زيادة‭ ‬التقدم‭ ‬التكنولوجي‭ ‬وتقدم‭ ‬المجتمعات‭ ‬المستمر،‭ ‬أصبحت‭ ‬الحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬مواطنيين‭ ‬من‭ ‬خريجي‭ ‬الجامعات‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬من‭ ‬أي‭ ‬وقت‭ ‬مضى‭. ‬إلا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬إرتفاع‭ ‬المصروفات‭ ‬الدراسية‭ ‬والرسوم‭ ‬في‭ ‬الكليات‭ ‬بصورة‭ ‬مستمرة‭ ‬يشكل‭ ‬عائق‭ ‬أمام‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جانب‭ ‬عقبات‭ ‬أخرى‭.‬

وفي‭ ‬جولتنا‭ ‬لمقابلة‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬المقيمين‭ ‬والمبتعثين‭ ‬للتعرف‭ ‬على‭ ‬تجاربهم‭ ‬و‭ ‬الصعوبات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تواجههم‭, ‬وجدنا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أكبر‭ ‬عائق‭ ‬يعترض‭ ‬طريق‭ ‬تحقيق‭ ‬طموح‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬هو‭ ‬التكلفة‭ ‬المالية‭. ‬فعلى‭ ‬الرغم‭ ‬من‭ ‬توفر‭ ‬السبل‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تمكن‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬من‭ ‬دفع‭ ‬النفقات‭ ‬الدراسية،‭ ‬إلا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الخوف‭ ‬الأكبر‭ ‬هو‭ ‬كيفية‭ ‬تسديد‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬القروض‭ ‬وفوائدها‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تشكل‭ ‬عبأ‭ ‬كبيرا‭ ‬على‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬وأسرهم‭. ‬ولا‭ ‬ننسى‭ ‬بالذكر‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬الإنكليزية‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬وصفتها‭ ‬رزاز‭ ‬باهبري‭ ‬الطالبة‭ ‬السعودية‭ ‬المبتعثة‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تقوم‭ ‬بدراسة‭ ‬الماجستير‭ ‬في‭ ‬قسم‭ ‬التغذية‭ ‬بجامعة‭ ‬هاورد‭ ‬في‭ ‬العاصمة‭ ‬واشنطن‭, ‬بأنها‭ ‬العارض‭ ‬الأول‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يواجه‭ ‬المبتعث‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الطالب‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬باستثناء‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬من‭ ‬أبناء‭ ‬الجالية‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬تربوا‭ ‬وترعرعوا‭ ‬في‭ ‬أمريكا‭. ‬وهذه‭ ‬المشكلة‭ ‬تستمر‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬إجتياز‭ ‬اختبار‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬والقبول‭ ‬في‭ ‬الجامعة‭, ‬حيث‭ ‬تبدأ‭ ‬مرحلة‭ ‬تحدي‭ ‬جديدة‭ ‬وهي‭ ‬فهم‭ ‬واستيعاب‭ ‬المادة‭ ‬العلمية‭ ‬نفسها‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جانب‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬الإنكليزية‭ ‬بذات‭ ‬الوقت‭. ‬فعلينا‭ ‬ممارسة‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬يومياً‭ ‬لكننا‭ ‬كفتيات‭ ‬فنطاق‭ ‬علاقاتنا‭ ‬محدود‭ ‬وذلك‭ ‬بحكم‭ ‬العادات‭ ‬والتقاليد‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تربينا‭ ‬عليها‭, ‬فتجدنا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬العائلة‭ ‬أو‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الصديقات‭ ‬المقربات‭ ‬وهنَّ‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأغلب‭ ‬من‭ ‬أصل‭ ‬عربي،‭ ‬بينما‭ ‬لو‭ ‬قارنا‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الأولاد‭ ‬لوجدنا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬دائرة‭ ‬علاقاتهم‭ ‬وصداقاتهم‭ ‬أوسع‭ ‬الأمر‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يساعدهم‭ ‬كثيراً‭ ‬في‭ ‬تطوير‭ ‬لغتهم‭ ‬الإنكليزية‭ ‬بشكل‭ ‬أسرع‮»‬‭.‬

‭ ‬رزاز‭ ‬كطالبة‭ ‬مبتعثة‭ ‬لا‭ ‬تشكو‭ ‬من‭ ‬الناحية‭ ‬المادية‭ ‬على‭ ‬الرغم‭ ‬من‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نفقاتها‭ ‬الدراسية‭ ‬والسكن‭ ‬والمعيشة‭ ‬تفوق‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تحصل‭ ‬على‭ ‬دعم‭, ‬لكنها‭ ‬إشتكت‭ ‬من‭ ‬الضوابط‭ ‬التي‭ ‬قد‭ ‬تتبعها‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الجامعات‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬يترتب‭ ‬عليها‭ ‬دفع‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الجامعة‭, ‬فأضافت‭: ‬‮«‬‭ ‬تعمد‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الجامعات‭ ‬وفق‭ ‬ضوابط‭ ‬صارمة‭ ‬على‭ ‬تأجيل‭ ‬موعد‭ ‬التخرج‭ ‬على‭ ‬إعتبار‭ ‬أننا‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬دروس‭ ‬إضافية‭ ‬لكوننا‭ ‬ضعفاء‭ ‬في‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬الإنكليزية‭, ‬إن‭ ‬البعثة‭ ‬تغطي‭ ‬نفقات‭ ‬ثلاث‭ ‬سنوات‭ ‬لدراسة‭ ‬الماجستير،‭ ‬وبتأخير‭ ‬تخرجي‭ ‬لثلاثة‭ ‬أشهر‭ ‬تحملت‭ ‬دفع‭ ‬6000‭$ ‬من‭ ‬مالي‭ ‬الخاص‭ ‬بدلاُ‭ ‬عن‭ ‬دراسة‭ ‬ثلاث‭ ‬ساعات‭ ‬إضافية‭, ‬كذلك‭ ‬حال‭ ‬باقي‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬السعوديين‭ ‬في‭ ‬القسم‮»‬‭.‬

‭ ‬في‭ ‬حين‭ ‬تشعر‭ ‬ريناد‭ ‬سالم‭ ‬ذات‭ ‬التسعة‭ ‬عشر‭ ‬عاماً‭ ‬بوجود‭ ‬تمييز‭ ‬في‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬القبول‭ ‬الجامعي‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬قورن‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الطلبة‭  ‬الأمريكان‭, ‬والأمر‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬تعقيداُ‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الضوابط‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تختلف‭ ‬شدتها‭ ‬من‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬أخرى‭. ‬فعلى‭ ‬حد‭ ‬قولها‭ ‬أنها‭ ‬واجهت‭ ‬صعوبة‭ ‬كبيرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬تقبلها‭ ‬في‭ ‬دراسة‭ ‬الطب‭, ‬وأوعزت‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬كونها‭ ‬عربية‭ ‬الأصل‭, ‬فقالت‭:‬‮»‬‭ ‬أكملت‭ ‬دراستي‭ ‬الثانوية‭ ‬والإعدادية‭ ‬في‭ ‬العاصمة‭ ‬واشنطن‭ ‬في‭ ‬متوسطة‭ ‬إليس‭ ‬ديل‭, ‬وبعدها‭ ‬إعدادية‭ ‬ويلسون‭, ‬وتطوعت‭ ‬منذ‭ ‬خمسة‭ ‬سنوات‭ ‬مع‭ ‬إحدى‭ ‬المنظمات‭ ‬للمشاركة‭ ‬ببرامج‭ ‬خدمية‭ ‬للمجتمع‭ ‬وهو‭ ‬مطلب‭ ‬لابد‭ ‬منه‭ ‬عند‭ ‬التقديم‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الدراسة‭ ‬الجامعية‭. ‬ومع‭ ‬أن‭ ‬درجاتي‭ ‬جيدة‭ ‬جداً‭ ‬إلا‭ ‬إنني‭ ‬أشعر‭ ‬بوجود‭ ‬صعوبة‭ ‬في‭ ‬تقبل‭ ‬الطالب‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬في‭ ‬الاختصاصات‭ ‬الطبية‭ ‬خاصة‭, ‬حيث‭ ‬تطلبت‭ ‬الجامعة‭ ‬مني‭ ‬تقديم‭ ‬مؤهلات‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬صعوبة‭ ‬مقارنة‭ ‬بالطلبة‭ ‬الامريكان‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬قبولهم‭ ‬أسهل‭ ‬نوعاً‭ ‬ما‭. ‬لكنني‭ ‬كنت‭ ‬مستعدة‭ ‬للقيام‭ ‬بكل‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يلزم‭ ‬لإنهاء‭ ‬متطلبات‭ ‬القبول‭ ‬وأخيراً‭ ‬حصولي‭ ‬على‭ ‬المنحة‭ ‬الدراسية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬كنت‭ ‬أحلم‭ ‬بها‭ ‬من‭ ‬جامعة‭ ‬جي‭ ‬مرسي‭ ‬بولاية‭ ‬بنسلفانيا‭, ‬لأكون‭ ‬بذلك‭ ‬أول‭ ‬طالبة‭ ‬عربية‭ ‬سعودية‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬قبولها‭ ‬لدراسة‭ ‬الطب‭ ‬في‭ ‬الجامعة‮»‬‭. ‬

في‭ ‬حين‭ ‬أشار‭ ‬عبد‭ ‬الله‭ ‬الطالب‭ ‬اليمني‭ ‬المبتعث‭ ‬بأنه‭ ‬لا‭ ‬توجد‭ ‬أي‭ ‬مشكلات‭ ‬تذكر‭ ‬لدى‭ ‬أغلب‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬المبتعثون‭ ‬فهو‭ ‬إستبعد‭ ‬أي‭ ‬مشكلات‭ ‬واجهته‭ ‬سابقا‭, ‬وهو‭ ‬يعتقد‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬مشكلات‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬قد‭ ‬تتمثل‭ ‬بضوابط‭ ‬ومتطلبات‭ ‬القبول‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تضعها‭ ‬الجامعات‭,  ‬كما‭ ‬يرى‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬العائق‭ ‬المادي‭ ‬قد‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬هو‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬المشكلات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تواجه‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يحتاجون‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬القروض‭. ‬أما‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬فقد‭ ‬أكد‭ ‬على‭ ‬ضرورة‭ ‬تطويرها‭ ‬في‭ ‬كليات‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬المجانية‭ ‬المنتشرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬كافة‭ ‬المدن‭ ‬والولايات‭. ‬

كذلك‭ ‬عبد‭ ‬الرحمن‭ ‬إستبعد‭ ‬وجود‭ ‬اي‭ ‬صعوبات‭ ‬سواء‭ ‬مالية‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لغوية‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬قال‭: ‬‮«‬أنا‭ ‬طالب‭ ‬سعودي‭ ‬مبتعث‭ ‬لا‭ ‬أشكو‭ ‬من‭ ‬المشاكل‭ ‬المالية‭, ‬وانصح‭ ‬كل‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬بتطوير‭ ‬لغتهم‭ ‬الإنكليزية‭ ‬في‭ ‬كليات‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬المتوفرة‭ ‬والمجانية‭. ‬وأنا‭ ‬اليوم‭ ‬أشعر‭ ‬بالسعادة‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أنهيت‭ ‬دراسة‭ ‬اللغة‭ ‬الإنكليزية‭ ‬لمدة‭ ‬سنتين‭ ‬في‭ ‬كلية‭ ‬نوفا‭ ‬للمجتمع‭ ‬ومستعد‭ ‬لإختبار‭ ‬التوفل‭ ‬والتقديم‭ ‬لدراسة‭ ‬علوم‭ ‬التكنولوجيا‭ ‬والحاسبات‭ ‬في‭ ‬إحدى‭ ‬الجامعات‭ ‬قريبا‮»‬‭.‬

ورغم‭ ‬المعوقات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تواجه‭ ‬الكثيرين‭ ‬من‭ ‬الطلبة‭ ‬عرباً‭ ‬وأمريكان‭ ‬على‭ ‬حدٍ‭ ‬سواء‭,  ‬إلا‭ ‬أن‭ ‬واقع‭ ‬الحال‭ ‬يثبت‭ ‬حجم‭ ‬الإصرار‭ ‬والتحدي‭ ‬الكبيرين‭ ‬والرغبة‭ ‬بالنجاح‭ ‬والتفوق‭ ‬للحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬المميزات‭ ‬والمؤهلات‭ ‬العلمية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تقدمها‭ ‬الجامعات‭ ‬الامريكية‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تفتح‭ ‬الابواب‭ ‬المغلقة‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجالا‭ ‬الاعمال‭, ‬خاصة‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬فرص‭ ‬عمل‭ ‬للطلاب‭ ‬المقيمين‭ ‬في‭ ‬أمريكا‭ ‬بهدف‭ ‬تعزيز‭ ‬النمو‭ ‬الاقتصادي‭ ‬للولايات‭ ‬المتحدة‭ ‬الأمريكية‭.‬