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Iraqi scholars study at UO
Posted on 02/14/2004 8:31:40 PM PST by chance33_98
Iraqi scholars study at UO
(Eugene-AP) -- Six Iraqi scholars are attending the University of Oregon this year as part of the first group of Fulbright scholars from Iraq since 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
The Fulbright program has brought international students to the United States and sent Americans abroad for nearly 60 years to increase understanding between countries.
The two women and four men from Iraq are enrolled at Oregon's American English Institute for advanced language study to help them with their graduate programs.
The four men from the group met with reporters Friday in Eugene to say they were glad to be among the 25 scholars chosen from more than 700 Iraqis who applied for the Fulbright program.
They all agreed that Saddam Hussein would never have been removed from power without the U-S military, and they say American soldiers should remain in Iraq or the country will be torn apart by civil war.
TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Oregon
KEYWORDS: fulbright; highereducation; iraq; uo
They all agreed that Saddam Hussein would never have been removed from power without
the U-S military, and they say American soldiers should remain in Iraq or the country
will be torn apart by civil war.
Wow! This even escaped the media propaganda officers in Oregon?!?!
posted on 02/14/2004 8:33:31 PM PST
A more in-depth article: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1076763545318780.xml
The Iraqi graduate students who began classes this month at the University of Oregon marvel at the green of Eugene, its mild winter and the sprawling campus.
But something they haven't seen makes the strongest impression.
"This campus doesn't have a wall," said Peshwaz Saadulla Faizulla, recalling the barbed wire coiled atop his alma mater in the predominantly Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Faizulla is one of 25 Iraqis who began studies in the United States this month as the first group of Fulbright scholars from that country since 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. government, has brought international students to the United States and sent Americans abroad for nearly 60 years to increase understanding between the countries.
The 25 Iraqis -- most earned undergraduate degrees in Iraq -- are attending four universities around the nation to hone their English before they move on to master's level studies. Two women and four men are enrolled at UO's American English Institute, along with Fulbright scholars from Mexico and Mozambique. The Iraqis speak excellent English but are learning advanced vocabulary and study skills they will need for their graduate programs.
On Friday, the men met with reporters to talk about why they joined more than 700 Iraqis who applied for the scholarships. Three are from northern Iraq; a fourth is from Baghdad. For all of them, this is their first trip to the United States.
"It's been some time in our dreams," Faizulla said.
The women declined to meet with reporters. A UO spokeswoman said they were tired of the media spotlight that had followed them from New York City, where their plane landed two weeks ago, to Washington, D.C., where they met with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
But Faizulla, 28, a journalist, had plenty to say.
For example, the Americans he meets are shocked to find out that he owns a DVD player. Iraq was isolated under Saddam, but the people are not uncivilized, he said.
There are differences among ethnic groups in Iraq that Americans -- and U.S. soldiers -- don't understand, he said. The Kurds, he said, have enjoyed some freedoms and independence for more than 10 years.
"Iraq is not only going through explosions, the killing of soldiers and this deep hatred," Faizulla said.
The Fulbright exchange -- named for the late Sen. William Fulbright, an Arkansas Democrat -- gives the students a chance to connect with the outside world after living under a regime that kept them largely in the dark, the scholars said. It is also their chance to give Americans a picture of Iraq and its people unfiltered by governments or the media.
"We as Iraqis should tell them who we are and how we think," said Muhammed Othman Muhammed, 23, a translator who plans to study American literature in the United States and to teach the subject in an Iraqi university.
The students were generally supportive of U.S. efforts to remove Saddam, which each described as a liberation. Some Iraqis see U.S. soldiers as invaders or occupiers, but that is not the majority opinion, they said.
"We Kurds take you as our best friends . . . without the (United) States, we couldn't get rid of Saddam. That is a fact," Faizulla said.
Still, U.S. policy-makers in Iraq would do better to listen more to Iraqis in the middle -- those who are not pro-American nor members of the resistance, he said. Moreover, he said, Americans who argue that the U.S. military should immediately pull out of Iraq might not understand the potential consequences.
"The only thing that ties Iraq (together) as a unit is the presence of an international force," Faizulla said. Without it, he said, there would be civil war.
Some studies take priority Priority in the Fulbright application process was given to those who sought to study in areas related to law, democracy-building, economic opportunity, English teaching, journalism and the environment. The six UO students will pursue studies in journalism, public health, environmental studies and English translation.
The cost of the current Iraqi Fulbright program is about $1.2 million, State Department officials said. The scholars will study in the United States for as long as two years and are required to return to Iraq after completing their studies. The six who are in classes at UO are living together in a campus dormitory and will stay through August, when they will be placed in graduate programs around the country.
Ali Muhamad Hama Amin, 29, will pursue a master's degree in public health. He is a resident doctor in the general surgery department at Salahaddin University in Irbil in northern Iraq.
Health care in Iraq has improved since Saddam's removal, he said -- the lifting of U.S. sanctions has allowed more medicine into the country, for example -- but much remains to be done.
Under Saddam, the country shared three or four MRI machines capable of producing computerized images of internal body tissues, Hama Amin said. There are more now, he said, but not nearly enough. Another improvement: Medical schools can do research via the Internet, which they couldn't access in the past.
The scholars are optimistic about Iraq's future, though Faizulla said a power grab by the country's Shiite Muslim majority would be devastating to the country's new freedom.
Muhammed, the American literature scholar, said he can envision a time when Iraqis will be able to worry about their businesses and their families, rather than instability and violence.
"For me, it's going to be heaven," he said.
posted on 02/14/2004 8:37:07 PM PST
And an article about another group at the University of Indiana: http://www.idsnews.com/story.php?id=21328
Eight of the 25 Iraqis awarded J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarships in January arrived in Bloomington Feb. 6.
Since then, they have been busy searching for accommodation, attending orientation classes and adjusting to their new environment. The recipients of the Fulbright Scholarship come from all over Iraq and represent several of the various ethnic groups in the country.
Two of the eight Fulbright scholars in Bloomington will conduct academic research during their time in the United States, and the other six will pursue various master's degrees after first completing their pre-academic sessions at IU. The sessions include completing the Intensive English Program.
After their session, the students will apply for various postgraduate programs at a number of universities, including IU. The other Fulbright scholars are spread across the United States and study at the University of Arizona, University of California at Santa Cruz and the University of Oregon.
The Fulbright Scholarship is offered by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The United States and Iraq have engaged in the exchange program since 1951, but the program was suspended after the Gulf War in 1991.
The program was restarted last year after a 14-year hiatus, and the process of selecting the current scholars began in October 2003. Testing centers administered the Test of English as a Foreign Language and other exams in several cities in Iraq in October 2003, and the scholars were chosen by committees composed of both Iraqis and Americans.
The Scholarship was intended to get a diverse mix of students from Iraq.
Dalia Kaikhasraw, one of the scholars, is from Sulaimany, a city in northeastern Iraq. Kaikhasraw was surprised when she learned she had been selected for the scholarship.
"Before, in the education system, there were preferences for certain people," she said. "It was not about how clever you were or how you did on an exam or test. What mattered was if you were a follower of a certain political party or a relative of a high-ranking official. But this time, it was not like that."
Shaheen Jihad hopes to receive a master's degree in public health. Jihad is trying to adjust from living in bustling Baghdad to quiet Bloomington.
"I have found Bloomington a very nice city. The nature is very beautiful. It is very calm, in fact, almost too calm," he said.
After receiving his master's in public health, Jihad wants to continue on to pursue a doctorate degree in Iraq.
Zeyad Al-Dial is a linguistics teacher from Mosul who is planning on receiving a master's degree in applied linguistics.
Al-Dial said re-establishing the Fulbright Scholarship is an important way to restore Iraqi and American ties.
"Iraqi's were prevented from going abroad to see other countries and people. This is a chance for me to share with others about their life and my life and about my country," he said.
Some of the students who were selected had to travel to Baghdad from different cities in Iraq.
Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority Paul Bremer hosted a reception for the scholars in the Iraqi capital. The students then flew to Amman, Jordan, where they spent a week filling out paper work and touring the city. From Amman, the scholars had a direct flight to New York City, where they spent a night before going to Washington D.C. There, they met with Rend Francke, the Iraqi representative to the U.S., Colin Powell and Kofi Annan. The scholars were also received at the White House by President Bush. After a week in Washington D.C., the scholars finally arrived in Bloomington.
Al-Dial said he is looking forward to studying in the United States but added that he is eager to return to Iraq to help in the reconstruction of his country.
"I am planning to go back home and to participate in the process of construction in Iraq," Al-Dial said. "According to my fielding of study, linguistics, I am planning to apply what I learn here to support the process of teaching and learning in my country, so we can compensate for the years we lost under the sanctions."
posted on 02/14/2004 8:38:33 PM PST
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