Saudi student enjoys technological opportunities

Andrew Shermoen

For Meaad Aldarbi, a student pursuing her masters in educational technology, time in America has been all about new experiences. The Saudi Arabian student has had a huge amount of support from friends and faculty members who have helped her get the most from her time in America.

Aldarbi is from Jazan, Saudi Arabia and attended and received her bachelor’s degree in history and civilization while attending Jazan University. After traveling to America she went to school at Kansas University but transferred to Washburn in 2014. When she first arrived Aldarbi had the usual struggles of a new person visiting America. “I spoke very little English,” Aldarbi said. “Thankfully the community I came into was very helpful and I joined a group that helped me improve my English.”

School and life in Jazan was very different compared to America. Technology isn’t as widespread, the schools are separated according to gender, and alcohol consumption is incredibly taboo. Aldarbi came to America for school because she knew it had the education she was looking for. “There is very little education in Saudi Arabia that is based on teaching people how to use technology,” Aldarbi said. “It is slowly being integrated into the classroom though, and I want to learn how to better use technology and how to teach people it should be used.”

Aldarbi has said the greatest thing Washburn has provided her is the multitude of experiences she’s had. In 2015 she and a few other Saudi Arabian women participated in a culture group. She also learned archery, took Zumba classes, and learned how to drive. Many of these experiences are something not easily available for her before Washburn and she is thankful for the opportunity to participate in them at Washburn.

Aldarbi has many people to thank for her Washburn experience. Her advisor David Pownell is a faculty member Aldarbi has credited as having a huge impact on her educational experience. “He really pushed me to keep working hard,” Aldarbi said. “When I had a question, instead of just telling me he would often encourage me to use the resources around me to search for the answers.” Through Pownell’s encouragement Aldarbi developed the phrase “Google it” as her new mantra in life for whenever she is looking for answers.

Aldarbi has also cited her friend Andrea Velez as someone who has encouraged her and helped her feel welcome at Washburn. “She was swimming teacher and she taught me so much,” Aldarbi said. “She was a great friend and helped increase my understanding of different cultures.”

Aldarbi also spent her years at Washburn making new friends, attending weddings, and visiting a favorite ranch destination over three times. Aldarbi graduates in May and is very thankful for her time at Washburn and all that it has taught her.