The Saudi Student Club (SSC) celebrated the Saudi national day on September 16, 2016 in Sewall Center. The event started with the showcase of different cultures and states in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi students were representing their culture by wearing Saudi Arabian clothes also known as Wahhabi and a Saudi turban called Keffiyeh. The tables were displaying big pots, traditional sword, shoes and snacks from Saudi Arabia. After the showcase, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) representative Omar Alattas gave a presentation on Saudi student stereotypes in America.
Alattas, a reporter at Saudi Television Network, started his presentation with a brief introduction about the cultural and traditional differences that exist between Saudi Arabia and the western world. He explained the Saudi student stereotypes that exist in America such as, Saudi students don’t study hard, Saudi students are rich because of the oil, Saudi students are careless, and Saudi students don’t respect the American society. Alattas explained that these stereotypes are not true and they are not reflective of any Saudi student or a society. He further explained that the students in Saudi Arabia are hard working, talented and they learn to respect the culture and society not just from their religion but also from their elderly family members. Alattas also talked about the strong relationship between the Saudi Arabia and America. He said, that the relationship between the Saudi Arabia and America is a great example of unity for the countries around the world, more importantly for the countries in Asia. Alattas further said that many American students don’t view Saudi Arabia as a country of peace, love and prosperity but they view it as a country with no women rights and a country that applauses terrorist activities. He presented a documentary showing American students who visited Saudi Arabia for the first time. It emphasized in showing their astonishing reactions on their arrival to Saudi Arabia. Alattas explained that the American tourists’ shared the empathy with the culture of Saudi Arabia and they felt loved and cared after arriving in Saudi Arabia. The documentary further shows the American students saying that they felt completely opposite of what they expected and everything they heard about Saudi Arabia was just in the media. The presentation ended with urging the audience to join the charitable organizations who are working to improve the relations between America and Saudi Arabia.
The presentation was widely applauded by the audience. It addressed very important issues concerning the American and Saudi students. The presentation explained the difficulties felt by Saudi students because of those stereotypes and it showed that those stereotypes are created by social media. The documentaries were clear about the topics conveyed in the presentation and it backed up the point that Saudi Arabia is a peaceful and prosperous country and American tourists felt loved and cared by the society. The presentation left a friendly impression on the audience and it made people feel differently than they are used to.
I found the celebration and presentation to be very informative. The presentation enriched my knowledge about the Saudi culture and how its viewed in the world. I believe that the stereotypes do exist and they change the perception of the students around the world, even at Robert Morris University. The media is always trying to show the negative picture of Saudi Arabia and many other countries around the world but it is totally insincere to the viewers who are being shown this false information which changes their perceptions about different countries. I am also aware that it is not just done in America but also in countries like Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia. After the recent elections in America, the media in Pakistan has shown the protests and riots in America which made my family and friends believe that it is happening everywhere, but that was simply not true. It was my duty to confirm to my family that it is certainly not happening in Pittsburgh and people are safe. It is every citizens’ duty to avoid creating the stereotypes based on the events that are not representative of the whole population.