Missouri S&T has a long history of welcoming international students to the Rolla area, Missouri, and sending American students worldwide to further their education. International Education Week, November 16-20, 2020, is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education for anyone who plays a part in that exchange.
Arrival at Rolla
Originally from Kuwait, Abdullah Alshammari came to Rolla in the spring of 2017 to study petroleum engineering and says he did not expect such a small college town.
I thought it would be much bigger and there would be taller buildings, says Alshammari. But I love Rolla. It means a lot to me and it is my second home. You will not find a community like this anywhere else; the people here really help and support each other.
Alshammari says he worked hard at S&T and earned his bachelor of science in petroleum engineering in May 2020. But he quickly decided he did not want his university experience to end there. He is currently working for a master’s degree in petroleum engineering through the accelerated program of the department of geosciences and geological and petroleum engineering (GGPE).
Alshammari says he decided to stay at S&T because of his involvement with campus and the community. As a student, he has worked with several professors in the GGPE research department, and he has been the author of several research publications. At the 2019 American Technical Association of Drilling Engineers Conference (AADE) National Technical Conference and Exhibition, Alshammari won first place and the Sandy Purdy Gold Medal for his research poster entitled Implementing Environmentally Friendly Drilling Fluid Additives: Can Eco-Friendly Additives Replace Conventional Chemicals Used in Water-Based Drilling Fluid?
Finding a family
Alshammari not only found stimulating research in his field at S&T, but he also found a place to live that felt at home with an American family. Alshammari had become friends with an American family living nearby and they offered him a place to live with them.
He spent a lot of time visiting with us and sharing meals and conversations, says Lisa Taylor, whom Alshammari describes as his American mom. We all started to feel like he was part of the family, and so it seemed natural to him to live with us as he completed his education here in the United States.
At first, he says he refused because he thought the Taylor were just polite. When they asked again and insisted, Alshammar agreed and moved in with them during the fall.
It was like moving with close friends, says Alshammari. At first it was very different, but I really feel like they were family to me now.
Taylor describes Alshammari as having a positive attitude and that he is not afraid to face new challenges.
Abdullah takes his education and grades seriously and shines within his petroleum engineering department, Taylor says. There is simply nothing he can do when he sets his mind to it. He lives life to the fullest and also follows a very high personal moral code. To say I am proud of the young man he has become while living with us would be a great underestimation.
New things to do
Alshammari has flourished academically and socially at Missouri S&T. He is a member of the American Association of Drilling Engineers and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. During his senior year at Missouri S&T, Alshammari joined the men’s soccer team. He played football at high school in Kuwait and says he liked to play again.
One of the biggest events of the year for international students is the Celebration of Nations, an annual parade and showcase celebrating the diversity and cultures and people at Missouri S&T. Thousands of people from all over the region take part in the event. At the 2019 Celebration of Nations parade, Alshammari and other Kuwaiti students from Missouri S&T won the most eye-catching ship.
Now, Alshammari works with young foreign students in the department in case they are overwhelmed by culture and sometimes unfamiliar language. He says he is doing his best to be a superior ambassador to his country both on and off campus.
While at S&T, I learned that communication is the most important life skill you have to learn, says Alshammari. I have also learned that different cultures can affect who we are, but there are not that many differences between people. Sometimes we just speak different languages.
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