Commodore, Royal Saudi
A few months ago, I received an invitation to lecture at Bridgewater University, which is located in the suburbs of Boston. The visit, though brief, brought back many memories. Last year, the National Council on US-Arab Relations had organized a forum in Washington, D.C. I had the honor of taking part in that event where I met a young talented Iraqi-American professor, Dr. Jabbar Al-Obaidi. He has been helping building bridges between people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The minute I arrived in Boston, I was met with the genuine Bostonian hospitality and was given the honor to exchange ideas with very intelligent faculty members. I was surprised to learn that Bridgewater was probably the only American university with no Saudi students even though it is well known for its high standard of education. Initially the university was established as a schoolteachers’ training institute. Established in 1840, it is one of the oldest schools not only in the United States but also in the world. Around 12,000 students, both local and foreign, are enrolled at the varsity. The campus is beautifully designed with impressive buildings. I fell in love with the library. Before the lecture, I was invited as a guest speaker at a 45-minute discussion on a local TV channel. During the discussion, hosted by Obaidi and Dr. Michael Kryzanek, we exchanged views on a host of issues. Truth be told, that discussion helped me with my lecture, as I got the chance to gauge my hosts’ views and the current issues under discussion in that specific area. The brief stay at the university was reminiscent of my student life at the State University of New York, Maritime College. Most of the young people across the world usually nurture a dream of attending schools in the United States. The American schools, undoubtedly, are cultural melting pots. American system of education has made learning fun and enjoyable. In the morning you are in the classroom, at a social event in the afternoon, watching some sports event in the evening and at night you find yourself surrounded by friends at some casual get-together. In American schools one meets people from around the world speaking different languages with different accents and different cultures. In addition to that, one could see people attending religious events at different places of worship and engaging in multi-cultural chats. But, what about my lecture and what was it about? I spoke in general about the Middle East. It was about democracy and prosperity. It was my first visit to Bridgewater and I hope I lived up to their expectations. For the information of the readers, I gave the lecture when I was still suffering from jet lag and the resultant sleeping disorder. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. A Day at an American University reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.