Impressions from KSU international students

David Evans

Snow, football among student’s simple pleasures

Ali Hussein, a 24-year-old English major, is an international student from Yemen. Ali hopes to graduate this May with better than a 3.0 grade point average. DANIEL OWEN | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Valentine’s Day 2007 is a day Ali Hussein will never forget.

Not because of the typical romantic connotations of the holiday, but because of the inclement weather that caused Kent State to cancel classes.

The 24-year-old English major took advantage of the inches of snow and free time to join some friends for his first-ever sled ride.

The usually composed Ali gets giddy describing this traditional winter pastime: “It was really my first time. And it was fun!” he says. “It’s something that I will tell my friends about when I get home.”

Whether through first-time sledding experiences on a snow-covered hill or in a Kent State classroom, Ali has learned a lot in the United States.

Ali hails from Yemen, a country located on the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. He is here for an English degree and hopes to graduate this May with better than a 3.0 grade point average. He then hopes to return to Yemen and use his degree to teach college students English as a second language.

“At the beginning, English was hard. Now I can communicate in any situation,” Ali said. “The hardest transition in my studies was the academic language; I didn’t know how to write papers.”

After spending some time in the United States, Ali was over the preconceived notions he had about America, due in large part to American media. He once thought the country was full of drug addicts, overly aggressive people and a high suicide rate. He now sees Americans as the same as any other people, he says.

Eager to learn all he can from his American friends, Ali has picked up as much as possible about American culture. He looks back fondly on his first few years with a roommate, with whom he went to Chicago and saw a professional football game.

But Ali does not just want to learn about America – he wants to teach his American friends about his own culture. When talking about the sort of education for which he is responsible, his tone turns from jovial to serious.

“Being Muslim gives me the responsibility to act in a good way, to show Muslim in a good way and correct misconceptions,” Ali said. “People generalize, so I’m happy when people ask me things.”

– David Evans