Mallak Al Husban is a resourceful woman. This young Jordanian is studying Economics and Human Rights at the prestigious Columbia University in the United States.
Mallak chose the States for a simple reason: to see something different from her homeland. As president of Turath, the Arab Students’ Association of Columbia, she gives her perspective on Arabs’ expatriation for studies.
Which is the secret behind integrating into another culture?
When I applied to universities abroad I specifically chose the US because I wanted to experience how it feels to live in a city where I don’t know anyone or anything and embed myself into that culture. So I do think that being educated abroad has its benefits. It makes you independent. It’ll strengthen your experience when you encounter people with other backgrounds and cultures. That’s very important. Communication is a key. You need to be able to communicate with other people in order to exist in a society and to be able to live in it.
What did you learn from your experience abroad?
When I first got there, being Jordanian and Arab made me a minority. I thought it would be hard to find a group where I’d be comfortable. However, if you put yourself out there and if you’re more comfortable with who you are, people are going to be more comfortable acting with you. So find a group that you associate with, that you connect with. It made my life so much easier. I found other Arabs, and foreigners that shared my morals, ethics, believes, ideology and ideas. Even if they’re different, you can still connect.
What would you say to other Arab students living abroad?
If I were to send the Arab individuals, in the US for example, a message I’d say: “Connect more”. Because we’re hidden somehow. We’re intimidated as a minority. Don’t be scared of connecting. Talk more. Tell more stories. Share experiences. Exchange prospective.