The Saudi Student Club at Western Carolina University is dedicated to their mission of correcting the stereotypes that are circulating about the Saudi Arabian culture.
They aim to bring the Saudi International students and the students at WCU closer together as well as educate the WCU students about Saudi Arabian culture. Creating a sense of community is their purpose. Family is their ambition.
According to Yahia Hedaisy, who resides as president of the club, the club started three years ago. The club began when the first seven Saudi International students arrived at Western Carolina. Mohummed Al-shitafy, who was the first president of the club, got it up and running at WCU.
According to Hedaisy, “. . .He worked so hard to open the club” at Western Carolina.
According to Hedaisy, anyone can join. He clarified that he knows people may become confused with the name of the club and think that the club is only for Saudi students, but it is in fact open to everyone. Hedaisy said that if you attend any of their meetings you can join the club.
Hedaisy added students can contact him face-to-face, call or email him, or contact any member to participate. The club also has a Facebook page and is on Twitter and Orgsync. They also have a website that is written in combination of English and Arabic and have recently made an all English website that was completed on Friday, Oct. 25.
According to Hedaisy, if you express the desire to join the Saudi Student Club, they will inform you about the club and their programs for this semester as well as find out what you are interested in and any ideas you have for the club.
Members are required to attend at least three meetings per semester and come up with at least one idea for the club for this semester or next semester. Hedaisy also said that members have to do what they tell them to do. He gave an example of them asking members to do a volunteer service. Hedaisy explained that performing this service would not be mandatory, but it would be expected of them.
Hedaisy mentioned that the club awards the position of Active Member that they award to one of their members. Some of the conditions for being awarded the position of Active Member are to attend every meeting and do what they tell them to do. He gave an example of members participating in a community service they did in Sylva on Oct. 21. Hedaisy also explained that along with attending meetings and doing volunteer work, some of the other conditions include giving presentations and coming up with ideas for the club for next semester.
According to Hedaisy, the Active Member is awarded a big prize, which is a plane ticket to any state the Active Member wants to visit with all expenses covered by the Saudi Student Club. Even though one member of the club can be the Active Member, Hedaisy said that they are making it to where everyone can be an active member. He explained that he has talked with their club’s advisor, Dr. David Scales of the Department of Psychology at WCU, and has talked about the possibility of seeing more Active Members and awarding them prizes. Hedaisy explained that these prizes will be less costly like an iPad, a laptop and an iPhone with the plane ticket being the most expensive gift.
There are over a 100 members in the club, including over 25 who are American. He also explained that they have five main members which consist of him, the vice president, the member who is in charge of media, the member who is in charge of sports and the member who is in charge of the club’s financial account. According to Hedaisy, they are required to have the five main members of their club as a condition from the Saudi Arabian government.
Open club meetings occur for all club members and sometimes, they gather together at Laporte Park once a month, although Hedaisy mentioned that they are thinking about stopping this for now because of the weather starting to turn.
In the past, the organization participated in the International Day at WCU and will be participating in International Education Week this semester, which will take place Nov. 18 to Nov. 22. The Saudi Student Club also has a week where they teach the Arabic language. According to Hedaisy, they might have a month where they teach the Arabic language next semester. They are currently working on lesson plans and learning the different ways they can teach it. They receive assistance from an American citizen, who speaks the Arabic language well and who spent some time in Iraq.
On Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m., they will be having an International Soccer game where their International Soccer Team will play against WCU’s team. Abdullah Almagati, who is in charge of the sports and the International Soccer Team in the club explained that they have a lot of players on the team who are Saudi Arabian.
“We just want to take the chance to show what talent the international people have,” Almagati said.
Almagati explained that he assigns the players their positions on the team.
Another project that the Saudi Student Club is working on is an action zombie movie that they are currently in the process of writing.
“All of us are excited for it. We know it’s going to take a long time, and we know it’s really hard work, but we are excited and willing to do it,” Hedaisy said.
Through all the fun and hard work, the Saudi Student International Club sticks true to their mission of doing away with stereotypes and education of their culture. The Saudi Club also serves as a way for the Saudi International students to be close to their country and show their love in their culture. Almagati considers the Saudi Student Club as something good, and he could not express just how much he loves it. The club makes Almagati think of his country and gives the chance to show his culture and his pride in it.
“Saudi club is a club that have people who are able to be ambassadors for Saudi Arabia. In fact, I’m proud for being a member in the club,” Almagati said.