Saudi student follows a family tradition of becoming a Bronco
Hailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Western Michigan University senior Ahmed Alashi finished his master’s degree in organizational analysis leadership in April 2016. He will follow in the footsteps of his parents, who both graduated from WMU in the early 1980s. Ahmed says it meant a lot to his dad, Abdulkabir Ahmed Alashi who graduated with a BA in Anthropology and Social Science in 1983, and his mom, Shadya Ahmed Yeslam, who graduated from CELCIS and began her degree in business administration. They are proud that he would be reliving their fond memories and carrying on the family’s “Bronco spirit.”
Alashi arrived in Kalamazoo with his parents in the fall of 2011, who he said “jumped” at the chance to introduce Ahmed to campus and the community and to revisit memories of their Bronco days. He first enrolled in WMU’s intensive English program—CELCIS, Center for English Language and Culture for International Students—to improve his English reading, writing and speaking skills before entering the master’s program in organizational analysis leadership in WMU’s College of Education and Human Development.
“I came to the United States thinking I was perfect as an English speaker, but looking back, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did,” Alashi said. “CELCIS helped me greatly improve my public speaking skills. I learned to calm down and relax because the CELCIS faculty and staff understand that new students are going to make mistakes. They patiently let you keep trying until you feel confident with speaking. I remember they gave us quite a bit of homework, which helps students adapt to the pressure of studying in the university. It was a struggle to get my grammar perfect, and reading has been a challenge as well, but, the CELCIS program helped me develop time management skills and to recognize the things I needed to focus on.”
Alashi decided early on at WMU that he wanted to make the most of his time abroad, so he made it his mission to not only attend the various cultural and recreational activities CELCIS provides for international students, but also to interact with American students as much as possible. “If you want to learn how to speak perfectly, you have to get out and meet people who speak English or who don’t speak your native language,” said Alashi.
Like his parents, Alashi has made his own cherished memories through WMU and the CELCIS program. He has played at the Skyzone Trampoline Park, learned about Amish culture during a field trip to Shipshewana, Indiana, attended major league sporting events in Detroit, and he has experienced horseback riding, ice skating and sledding. “Coming to WMU has changed my life and my understanding of culture,” he said. “I am now more open-minded. Studying abroad pushed me out of my comfort zone and I now look at the world very differently than I did when I first came to WMU.”
Following WMU’s commencement ceremony, Ahmed returned home to Saudi Arabia, but will continue to be a Bronco. “I am proud to be a Bronco like my parents.”