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by Jessica S. McDunn, University Relations

 
Visiting HPU for the 2006-07 school year, Al-Omrani is helping his faculty sponsor Irene Gordon, HPU Arabic and linguistics instructor, teach classes while he tutors three student groups at the University’s Teaching and Learning Center and works toward his graduate degree in applied linguistics.

“ He serves as a cultural ambassador,” said Dr. Carlos Juárez, dean of the College of International Studies and president of the Hawai‘i chapter of the Fulbright Association.

“[Al-Omrani] helps promote a greater understanding of North Africa and the Muslim world,” Juárez added.

Al-Omrani said his purpose at HPU is to promote his culture, “gain an understanding of the United States, and share what we have in common.

“ We share a lot of values,” he said. “But we tend to focus on the things we don’t share.”

Gordon added: “ I think the educational exchange is the only way things will change.” While living with two American HPU students—one from Ohio, the other from Minnesota—Al-Omrani said he feels at home, even thousands of miles away from Africa.

“ It’s just like Libya,” he said. “We take off our shoes before entering someone’s house, just as in Libya. The climate is similar, and people are so friendly. If they’re eating, they offer you something.”
Al-Omrani will spend nine months in the United States, and he hopes to make a few stops on the mainland before returning to Libya.

“ I want to visit Montana, and I’m planning to go to Washington, D.C., Kaua‘i, and the Big Island,” he said. “I want to see Yellowstone and listen to how English is spoken all over the U.S.”

Al-Omrani said he has one piece of advice for HPU’s travelers: “If you want to see a beautiful desert, come to Libya. If you want to see a tropical paradise, go to Hawai‘i.”
 
 

 

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