Links to other sites on the Web: (for links to other chapters go to the end of the file) Back to Chapter 13: Discussion
The preceding chapters attempted to measure the amount to what extent the Al-Dharra Madressor experience results in students retaining their Arab cultural identity while obtaining a secondary American (Western) cultural proficiency. First, a methodology, using surveys, interviews, descriptive statistics, and triangulation resulted in a general conclusion. This chapter, in contrast, will attempt to analyze some informal observations drawn from this author’s own experiences at the school.
This particular portion of the dissertation requires separate treatment for several reasons. First, the researcher acted as a participant-observer, as a schoolteacher or Model United Nations Director, etc. in these events. He did not take any formal notes since, indeed, he only decided to use the events after the fact. Hence, unlike the approach used by Longva (1998) and Lortie (1975), the incidents selected here suffer from a bias both in his selection and through his own semi-active participation.
The following incidents and phenomena depict specific school situations to try to determine to what extent these incidents show two factors among the student population: a primary Kuwaiti cultural identity and a secondary American (Western) cultural adhesion and to determine if the latter reaches the level one might term a secondary Western cultural proficiency. Chapter one defines culturally proficient as follows:
Culturally proficient: able to behave within accepted cultural norms, capable of completing business and educational transactions with members of this culture, and expressing a degree of comfort and familiarity with the norms and thought patterns of this culture.
As indicated in chapter one, this definition necessarily depends upon observable behaviors and can only suggest deeper states of emotion or intellectual identification with a culture. The fact that this definition specifically mentions behaviors, however, allows for observance of these behaviors in situations such as those below.
In many respects the school situation at Al-Dharra Madressor does not differ from that of a typical American high school. One can argue that the greater the number of incidents and situations not mentioned here the greater the degree Western cultural proficiency equates with primary Kuwaiti cultural adherence. It does not make any sense to delve into these similarities since such situations will not particularly help answer the research question or present anything unfamiliar to either Western or Arab readers. Thus, this chapter will concentrate on incidents involving cultural differentiation only. As in the AWSIT and AGS, the more inaccurately the researcher assesses the cultural dimensions of these various situations, the more errant the conclusions.
In each case below, the analysis will use a two-stage method similar to that used on the materials on the AWSIT in chapter twelve. First, the analysis will differentiate the Al-Dharra Madressor (ADM) students’ response from those of a "typical" American high school. Second, the researcher will summarize to what extent this differentiation would make these ADM students less able participants in projected future encounters with the West, such as attending a Western university, dealing with Western businessmen, and visiting America for extended periods.
This researcher cannot very accurately assess Arab cultural adherence. This would require judging to what extent students could participate fully in the diwanniyah, transfer to a public or Arab private school, or work in a government ministry. Such an analysis would require first-hand knowledge of this alternate environment, such as previous employment in a government school, as well as command of the Kuwaiti dialect of Arabic. Thus, this analysis cannot consider the situation of those students of very Westernized households, usually with an American or Western mother, who enter ADM and would want their children to obtain a secondary Kuwait Asil cultural proficiency.
To distinguish these "Kuwaiti" from "American situations" requires introducing a standard of comparison, the subject of the next section.
As mentioned in chapter one, this researcher’s career embraced a six-year period at a Mexican-immigrant high school, Tusitala Junior High School (TJHS) as well as a Department of Defense High School in Japan, Samurai High School (SHS). This analysis will generally use SHS as the comparison high school for several reasons, including a very practical one, ample description already exists of the latter. Further, one might consider Samurai (SHS) as a reasonably typical, multi-cultural American high school.
Samurai High School operates as a part of the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDs) system. Though located within a half hour’s drive from Tokyo, Japan, the school educates children of active duty military members, not Japanese or international school students. The following citation from "The Small Town With the B-52s" (Fruit, 1992) summarizes some details regarding SHS:
Education began at Samurai back in 1947, and the high school began functioning back in 1971. The school represents, despite the diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, a relatively homogeneous population with a "select group" of adults, Air Force personnel and dependents, as parents.... Every child in the DoDDs system has a least one working parent. More students than in the States, also, have one parent at home, so they are relatively more protected from "family disintegration...." [The base is] more similar to a "middle class neighborhood" than to a big city....DoDDs students consistently score well [above average] on the ACT or SAT.... Although education isn't the only value or even the highest ranking value of this community, it is an important value. Ultimately, it breeds a group of students who do above average on national tests and, in most ways, perpetuate the values of their parents: love for their country, independence, a sense of family, and a sense of obligation. (pp. 25-28)
Those reading the above description will, of course, note some differences between Samurai (SHS) and other "typical" American high schools. First, it enjoys an unusually close relationship with the local community and "business," the Air Force Base. Second, unlike some American schools or Al-Dharra Madressor, it contains ethnic diversity, primarily in the form of non-American children and spouses.
At times, this analysis will also introduce two other schools, Tusitala Junior High School (TJHS) and Walter Chrysler High School (WCHS). Tusitala Junior High School, in East Los Angeles, includes primarily (99%) children of Mexican and Mexican-American descent. One can consider the movie "Stand and Deliver" as a good example of the kind of environment at TJHS since half of TJHS graduates subsequently attend Garfield High School, the school portrayed in the movie. The latter school, in Detroit’s suburbs, contains a mixture of various ethnic groups primarily of second and third generation immigrant status many of whom work for the automobile companies located within a ten mile radius of the school. This author attended this school and his nieces and nephews continue to do so.
Previously, this dissertation contended that one of the particular aspects distinguishing Al-Dharra from most other schools consists in its hierarchical, center-dominated schema. In other words, it only holds really one social group of any importance, and individuals belong to varying degrees. This corresponds, again, to Hofstede’s (1991) description of communitarianism.
This holds importance in several respects. First, the definition of the typical "ADM" student serves to display the dominant characteristics of the school and this central group. Second, examining some of the social dynamics of this situation allows drawing certain conclusions as to whether students in this social environment might find success in that of the United States.
As shown in chapter seven, ADM, unlike some American schools, features children of basically a single group, even a sub-group, Asil Kuwaitis. In this respect, it very much resembles Tusitala (TJHS), in which one can describe all students of the school as possessing some Spanish-speaking abilities, Mexican origins, Catholic religion, and certain social beliefs. However, at TJHS, and even more at SHS, despite this diversity, student society tends to break down into subdivisions, whether gang-related, revolving around sports, or around level of Americanization, "pochos" versus "Americans," at TJHS, or around ethnicity, team memberships, or club membership, at SHS.
As related in chapter seven, at ADM subdivisions revolving around students' sports, ethnic groups, and sectarian divisions do not take arise. Sporting teams, for example, spend little time "hanging around" off the court. Notably, the two most active groups on campus, Model United Nations and National Honor Society (NHS), both owe their origin to foreign-teacher sponsors and enlist students on the basis of achievement.
One can describe a "typical Al-Dharra Madressor High School student" as follows:
This list of characteristics, of course, mixes some within a student’s control, such as sociability, along with others obviously not within the student’s control, such as complexion and passport origins. This does not constitute an "arbitrary list," but rather a list of characteristics for which students either (a) singled other students out for lacking or (b) actively attempted to acquire. Hence, one must consider this the "ideal" list. In the course of four years, this observer watched students being bothered, especially at the middle and high school level, for lacking any one of these characteristics. Some of these characteristics, such as sociability, a student could alter and some he/she could not. Of course, the measuring of some of these qualities requires considerable amounts of subjectivity.
Two of the characteristics above, religion and nationality, require particular consideration. As Longva indicated (1997), these two characteristics lie at the very heart of divisions in Kuwait society. This sectarian division did not seem to create an ADM student Shia or rival nationality group. In fact, one of the Shia interviewed for the AWSIT, when told that the interviewer wanted to represent possible differentiation on the basis of Shia-Sunni differences, heatedly argued: "We’re not treaty any differently.…I’d tell that to anyone!"
Students who did not particularly fit this model underwent hazing. In middle school, the family of the Al-Muzaks received extensive teasing because of their light skin. As to language, students who came to ADM far more fluent in English than Arabic inevitably received some hazing. Regarding academic competence, as in most schools, the really smart kids received some negative attention as well. As to social orientation, the liberal probably received some positive attention, but some of the most conservative and outwardly religious students received some negative attention, though the issue of female behavior in the presence of males, as suggested on the AWSIT, remained controversial. Students who did not spend enough time outside of class engaged in student pursuits such as shopping and going to houses (by gender) also received some negative attention.
Furthermore, these effects tended to accumulate. A student with poor Arabic skills, commanding English, an American mother, and very liberal parents, i.e., the kind of student who might transfer from KAS, would stand out considerably and have difficulties. On the other hand, a student with simply good English skills and poorer Arabic, while experiencing some difficulty adjusting, would not face the same level.
None of this singling out and hazing of the "different" should seem particularly startling to any American educator. The difference between the ADM students and those of SHS, however, lies more in the reaction of those students to this negative attention. Whereas even in all-white American schools, the student world tends to create subdivisions (Lortie, 1975), that of Al-Dharra remained remarkably monolithic. Hence, even in the earliest days when the Palestinians numbered as much as 40% of the school population (Al-Jinnah, 2001), one did not find the school breaking down into subdivisions along national lines. So students lacking these characteristics did not unite to create a "resistance group." Nor did one see Palestinian student meetings, such as happened at AIS during the second Intifada.
In distinct contrast, Samurai consistently divided into subdivisions along lines of race, religion, and activity. Hence, an African-American could always, to some extent, turn to other African-Americans for affirmation, a Mormon to Mormons, and an honors student to another honors students.
Even student-created social subdivisions simply did not occur at ADM, though the high school included about as many students as SHS. Members of the school’s teams played together but did not spend any more time together than other ADM students. Thus, one turns again to the characterization of ADM as essentially one community, even one family, with individuals relative distances from the center. The only conflicts, all pre-War, concerned failed attempts to take over that central position, not to dissolve the system.
This put the pressure on the student who did not easily fit into the Al-Dharra mold. While other students would eventually learn to accept factors a student could not change, such as skin color, students made every attempt to change almost every other feature on this list to better fit the mold (Al-Khansas, 2002). These "outcasts" deserve attention for several reasons, as does the stereotypical "average" ADM student. First, these outsiders seem to display differing amounts of American cultural adhesion; in fact, the outsider status of some of them primarily resulted from a particularly high or low level of Americanization. Second, their own process of adaptation to this Kuwaiti norm may indicate whether these students would have a similar ability to adapt to American social norms. All students mentioned below have undergone the aliasing process explained in chapter one with details altered to preserve their anonymity. The chart below lists them in alphabetical order, but they appear in logical order in the explanation.
Consider first the case of Fadha Al-Noudhi, who once stated regarding her classmates:
I just hate my classmates, a bunch of silly girls. All they ever do is want to go shop and hang around. They call me every hour, "What are you doing?" "I’m doing homework." "Why?" They’re so stupid!
Fadha did not fit the Al-Dharra mold in a number of ways. First, she came from a half-Kuwaiti, half-Lebanese family and did not hold a Kuwaiti passport. Second, though she transferred to ADM in the seventh grade, she quickly mastered English, a mastery reinforced by avid reading. She came to the school, also, with only one sibling, a younger sister. She earned high grades not by cheating or by wastah but by simply working extremely hard. Something of a tomboy, she played sports also and showed very little interest in shopping for the latest outfits. She made no secret of her anger when other students tried to copy or steal her work.
In three years, FAN made some concessions to the pattern above. She became a more dedicated shopper and fashion conscious, and while not one to spend time with the "silly girls," she no longer publicly criticized them. She continued to work very hard, but she devoted more time to helping other, weaker students, even letting some of them cheat and use her. Fadha did not change completely. She remained her own person, blunt and outspoken, but as something of a symbol of her acceptance, other students pointedly emphasized her Kuwaitiness rather than her foreign passport. As one said, "Oh come on. She’s a Kuwaiti."
In FAN’s case, then, one can detect two particularly interesting points. First, she did prove able, in the end, to adapt to the relatively tight social definition of a Kuwaiti Asil girl. Second, it seems obvious that in the United States, FAN would probably find her place among the school’s high achievers. Indeed, she earned admission to both MUN and NHS. She also reportedly did extremely well during her summer program in the United States and seemed to have no particular difficulties adapting to the American environment.
The word "American" immediately applies to Ghassan Al-Sulla, whose parents told this researcher that they explicitly enrolled him in ADM in order to learn Arabic and to better fit into the social world of Kuwait, i.e., to acquire secondary Asil Kuwaiti cultural proficiency. Another half-Kuwaiti, GAS came to ADM speaking almost no Arabic and looking like an American, with light skin and brown hair. Ghassan suffered a double burden, since he achieved "As" in English while doing almost no work and simultaneously nearly failed his Arabic classes. In response to some early hazing, Ghassan not only emphasized the extremely liberal views of his parents, but also his mother’s Christianity, calling himself a Christian. While ADM students tolerate and even respect Christians such as their teachers, for an ADM student with a Muslim father to loudly claim his Christianity came as a shock. As with Fadha, Ghassan’s loose tongue undoubtedly made some enemies as he answered his detractors by ridiculing their English. According to his mother, at one point, with only two friends, he seemed very close to leaving the school.
Before graduation, Ghassan had made some compromises also. He learned enough Arabic to get reasonable grades in those classes. He also started to spend a lot more of his casual conversation time in Arabic. Further, he carved out a rather unique niche as "the American," the American who just "happened" to attend ADM. He made other students aware he considered this largely a role and not his whole identity. Thus Ghassan offered himself as the "token American" but with less than total seriousness.
It probably goes without saying that GAS would readily fit into the American world. His example does suggest, though, that Al-Dharra Madressor can instill Arab cultural proficiency. However, it would take an Arab Kuwaiti to accurately judge the extent of GAS’s ability to fit into Kuwait Asil society.
Talal Al-Muzaini proved a harder person to bring into the group. Talal’s parents came from a lower, working-class strain of Kuwaitis, and all of them held second-class Kuwaiti passports. At greater personal sacrifice, Talal’s parents transferred him and, gradually, three out of four of his siblings to the school. Part of a part-Shia family with an uncommon work ethic, Talal worked to become the top student in his classes, someone whose success depended upon dogged effort more than intelligence. It did not help in this instance that Talal’s mother, partially educated in America, herself became a force in the school community, and the mother, in typical American fashion, pushed her sons and daughters along.
Talal made his compromises as well. For one thing, as the National Honor Society (NHS) became more active, this allowed him to attend more of the school’s social functions. Further, Talal became heavily involved in the Palestine project, which helped to bring Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis closer together. Finally, Talal helped students cheat. While he himself did not cheat (as judged by his definition), by helping others cheat he became part of the group. In retrospect, it appears that he made almost a deliberate calculation as to the amount of "help" required to earn group acceptance.
Again, it seems reasonable to suppose that had Talal gone to an American school, he would have endured many of the same sorts of problems he encountered at ADM. Probably others would have quickly classified him as a "nerd." However, even nerds at SHS enjoyed their own circle of friends. At an American university, likely TAM will find plenty of acceptance and will thrive as he thrived during the times he traveled with the school.
The family of Faisal Al-Saad and Abdullah Al-Saad, two brothers, like that of TAM above, held Kuwaiti passports but from a lower class. The key issue involving both brothers and, indeed, the family, came from their espousal of extremely conservative Islam. The boys’ relative, an Islamist doctor, votes with the Islamist bloc in parliament. In this respect, it seems highly unusual that their father would enroll his two sons in Al-Dharra, a mixed-gender environment and the headquarters of merchant liberalism. A student best summarized the general ADM opinion of the family’s beliefs: "Faisal? Their family. When I hear about that, I think they’re crazy. That’s not Islam." This probably parallels the view expressed by some of the SHS about the Mormon community and that of TJHS students about the small number of extremely conservative Catholics.
Hence, a number of factors divided the boys from the center. While Kuwaiti, they came from a lower class. While reasonably fluent in English, their Arabic far surpassed their English. Further, though their family contained an untold number of members, only the boys enrolled in ADM. The boys maintained extremely high personal standards of behavior. Of course, neither would cheat. Further, neither socialized with girls, even the ones at ADM. When a teacher assigned AAS to work with one of the girls in a classroom situation, the girl protested: "What can I do? They won’t work with me. They don’t like girls!" (emphasis in original). In reality the boys did not "dislike" girls so much as they disapproved of their presence in the classroom and of any efforts of the school to make the boys participate in this "haram" (forbidden) situation.
In many ways, the acceptance of these two boys took more of an effort on the part of the group since, unlike the other students mentioned, the boys’ differentiation stemmed from conviction. On a MUN trip to Turkey, FAS, however, first showed his uncommon sense of humor. During the next year, his senior, while FAS would not help others cheat, he did help others in class. His humor and the others’ belief that maybe his religious beliefs did not run quite so deep and in quite such different currents pulled him within the realm of passing acceptability.
Reasonably, then, one can conceive of FAS and his brother as corresponding to the Ard or even the Arab archetypes offered on the KATWII. Their social beliefs, while not resulting from Bedouin origin, correspond closely to that detailed by Ghabra in his accounts of desertization (1997). As of 2002, these students, all boys, did seemed poised to create their own-subgroup within ADM society, much like that of the Mormons at SHS. More to the point here, one must question to what degree these students, who registered some problems finding acceptance in the liberal, but Moslem, environment of ADM would thrive in a Western university or in dealing with Western businessmen. As indicated before, the future of most of these students likely lies in Kuwait, other than for the university years, so reasonably one can conjecture that FAS will accommodate himself to the Western university environment, no more. Further, the fact that American society always allows for students not to enjoy the full freedoms of American society, means that he could probably endure. Interestingly, it appears that the mirror situation of GAS, above, offers the greater challenge in fitting into the more constricting Kuwaiti social world.
In this respect, it requires mention that some students never found their place at ADM. Partly, this resulted from the parents of female students re-thinking their dedication to mixed-gender education. This re-thinking process might take a lot of forms, such as mentioned in chapter eleven in which parents of girls changed their mind about the interview for this AWSIT, parents suddenly deciding not to allow their daughters to take certain trips, or, in the extreme case, withdrawing their girls from school. Especially at the middle-school level, as nature took its course, a lot of parents realized with some surprise what having their daughter in a mixed school really entailed. Their alarm might come from some amount of actual male hazing, some consideration of what might occur, and from hearing stories of the sometimes flirty behavior of 7th-8th grade girls. In defense of these parents, recall that all girls in public schools attend separate schools, so that sending a girl to ADM represents for many parents a positively daring move. Still, this could lead to a student withdrawal, particularly in grade seven or eight.
Consider the two classes this author observed during their entire four-year sojourn in the high school. Of those who left, one can attribute five to academic reasons (all boys), two to "social" reasons (girls), and one more to a mixture of the two factors (a girl). The graduating class of 2000 went from a near-even split of gender to a graduating group 75% male, meaning nearly half the girls left the school before graduation.
Even some graduates remained unassimilated. Consider the case of Mohammad Muzaini. Mohammad started out far from the center of ADM society, with two foreign parents, a non-Kuwaiti passport, and Shiism. Mohammad attended few of the social functions of the school. Yet another top student (and Shia) with an uncommon work ethic, Mohammad excelled in English, Arabic, and the language of his passport nationality. When this author asked Mohammad, why he did not run for school office, he commented via email (ADM 22, 1998):
Have you ever seen a foreigner in our school holding a leadership position after being elected by the students? I don't think so. Kuwaiti arrogance (Mr. Dan, my parents and I have lived here more than you have and I've been in this school since gr.4) does not allow them to see themselves as followers to a non-Kuwaiti when it's up to THEM to choose. Well, when you assign me as ambassador, it's different cuz you've done it, but on a larger scale when Kuwaitis are to choose, it's much more different." (capitalization in the original)
To preserve anonymity, this dissertation will refer to Mohammad as having nationality "R." When he came to the school, he came as "the R." When he graduated, he graduated as "the R." He never conformed to the vision above nor did he find acceptance. Also, he did not form his own social group of "Rs." He simply endured and graduated.
In decided contrast, a number of factors argue that MM will do extremely well in the West. Partly, his endurance in the face of student non-acceptance argues this, and in many ways his example displays what one might term a prototypical American minority response, the preservation of identity in face of the majority. His brother, an extremely successful lawyer in the United States, suggests his future lies in immigration, not in Kuwait.
Finally, then, having considered these individual cases, one can consider the stereotype itself. Could a typical, Kuwait, Asil student, "Abdullah," function in the environment of the United States? To put this into some relevant situational contexts: If "Abdullah" receives admission to Normal U, which no other Kuwait student currently attends, could he thrive? Would he accept and could he endure, as the AWSIT asks, a two-year contract to work in the West?
It seems fairly obvious that the students in the examples above could endure such a situation and some, such as Mohammad, would positively welcome the chance. The more stereotyped "Abdullah," in contrast, would have to attend a school that does not offer several important comforts mentioned as pertaining to the ADM situation: the presence of his family, fellow Muslims, and others fluent in the Kuwaiti dialect. On the other hand, he would speak reasonably good English and could take advantage of America’s religious toleration and acceptance of individuals choosing not to exercise all of their freedom. As the AWSIT results indicate, though, only some Al-Dharra Madressor students, presumably the strongest, would choose these situations.
Instead, "Abdullah" would far more likely select a school already possessing a sizable Kuwaiti minority, such as Boston University and, especially, schools or situations near to his relatives and kin. This perpetuates a "colonization pattern," implied in the list of colleges, whereby once one ADM student enrolls in a school, his relatives and other Kuwaitis follow to the same city, if not to the same school. As explained in the next section, further, this would typically increase the chances of success of the latter students, even if it does not necessarily imply a greater American (Western) cultural adherence.
This section essentially complements the previous one. The last section tells of the issues of the outsiders and the pressures to conform to a single social pattern. This section shows how, in general, membership leads to the member’s advantage, beyond the obvious factor of cementing family alliances.
These "advantages" of membership deserve particular attention for several reasons. First, they identify, again, some particular, even unique, aspects of the ADM experience. Moreover, though, they suggest how the typical pattern of ADM, and Kuwaiti, colonization means that in terms of the definition offered previously, a group of Kuwaitis might find greater success than one Kuwaiti.
Chapter three of this dissertation developed a theory of Arab culture as tribal and group-oriented. In such a culture, group membership exacts a certain price, implied in the previous section, in which individuals give up some of their individuality in exchange for membership (Hofstede, 1991; Abu-Saad, 1998). In return, group membership creates obligations to assist the individual. This section will look at specific student behaviors at ADM which would probably not occur at an American high school, except perhaps in a subcultural school possessing another tribal culture, that assist in student success at ADM, the adjuncts to Ghabra’s (1988) "politics of survival" among the Palestinians and the Kuwaiti pattern of family assistance (Ghabra, 1997; Al-Thakeb, 1982).
In a way, even formulating some of these situations as group problems requires thinking in a communitarian, tribal way since it entails seeing what an American would conceive as an individual problem instead as a group problem. Indeed, as the AWSIT interviews implied, American teachers, and even some Kuwait students, would respond to some of these problems with a dismissal, "It’s not my business." Some examples will demonstrate, however, that most ADM students would perceive these as group problems.
Every class contains weak students. The recently graduated class of 2002 contained perhaps the widest spread of any ADM class, with top students literally four to five years better in English than the weakest students. Yet those weak students graduated, and the community heaved a collective sigh of relief. As one student commented regarding a particularly weak student: "What can I do? He’s R, and he needs help. I can’t let him fail. That’s wrong." (emphasis added)
To use the term "wrong" starts to put this into cultural context. To consider this in one concrete instance, consider the case of one particularly small class, class X, with an extremely wide variation in terms of academic ability. One half of the class averaged 66%, and the other half averaged 96%.
Since the weaker part consisted solely of boys, it fell upon the strongest male student, Abdullah, to tutor the others and study with them prior to every test, including the final. Since boys and girls generally do not go to each other’s houses, it became his personal responsibility to go to one of the houses of the other boys at which the whole group would congregate. Since the others could not take notes well either, he essentially retaught them the bulk of the course material during these review sessions. Occasionally Abdullah took poor notes. This did not matter since both Besma and Hessa took very good notes and readily lent them to Abdullah. Abdullah did this even when, at times, it conflicted with his own studying and other schoolwork. The others did not actively solicit Abdullah’s help; they expected it.
This does not, however, constitute a singular instance. In one calculus class, Sulaiman Al-Fuail understood the material far better than the remainder of the class. Hence, almost daily he tutored two other boys in his class to make sure they understood. While Sulaiman eventually scored a 5 on the AP test, the others did almost as well (4s), largely due to his impromptu tutoring.
Nor can one confine such activities to the boys. At one point 5-6 girls all held the possibility of getting an "A" in economics if they scored an "A" on the final. They went to the extent of pooling their resources, finding the only female economics tutor in Kuwait, and studying together three times at one of the girl’s houses.
This leads into the next category: the difficult test. Since school policy required scheduling a test a full week ahead of time, students knew well when to study and often studied together in same-gender groups. As indicated in the previous section, it became incumbent upon stronger students to lead these sessions, willingly or unwillingly, just as, in the AWSIT question, it fell upon the cousins to help the impoverished female cousin, Noor, in her collegiate ambitions.
It makes an interesting comment that whereas many college students form study groups to improve their grades and performance, ADM students did this in high school. Indeed, some diwaniyyahs of young men classify as much as study groups as anything else. In this case, then, the average ADM student seems to correspond with more unusual students at schools such as SAS. Further, the behavior corresponds closely to American sub-cultural and national groups such as Chinese and Chinese-Americans who successfully use the same strategies at American universities. Thus, one can easily conceive the presence of several Kuwaitis, while something of a constraint on the achievement of the high achieving, promises to increase most members’ chances of success in American situations.
However, as one of the AWSIT questions indicated, Kuwaitis as a group can actually hinder each other’s performance if they spend the majority of their time not studying. On that particular question, however, students seemed not to approve of Kuwaitis "hanging around" if they envisioned the situation in such terms, suggesting that if the all-Kuwaiti group improved performance, such as in the instances above, they would approve.
This leads to a much more controversial method of achieving student success: cheating. With rare instances, ADM cheating almost always involved a stronger student cheating for a weaker student. Students resorted to such things as switching seats, switching tests, saying answers in Arabic, etc. (ADM 7, 1998; ADM 10, 1998). Cheating almost always formed a communal activity, and many students defended the morality of these pursuits, particularly the role of the student providing the answers. As the class president for the year 2002-2003 school year stated: "If you ask any student in this school, they won’t see it as cheating. They see it as helping."
Indeed students who seemed to have a personally hard time with cheating, and would not cheat for themselves, showed much less reluctance in cheating for another student. As one student said with considerable resignation: "If he doesn’t cheat, he’s going to fail!" As indicated previously on the AWSIT this led to some defensive remarks about cheating that seemed strange and to indications on the AGS that many students would help another student if no other means lay at their disposal.
This does not, in any way, suggest that cheating did not occur at SHS. However, at SHS, cheating typically involved the single cheater either copying from another student or from forbidden notes. Very seldom did the stronger student help the weaker. In fact, the stronger students before a test would often ask, "Please move me away from X, so he doesn’t cheat from me."
This brings about a difficult question to answer: Does cheating constitute un-American behavior and, so, indicate a relative lack of American cultural adherence? Further, of course, it suggests another question, perhaps equally valid: Could cheating enable success in American (Western) situations? To answer these questions lies beyond the scope of this dissertation.
For those students who "assist" other students by providing answers, abandoning such behaviors seems relatively easy, and likely to nearly eliminate cheating at ADM, until one considers the obligations of group membership. The individuals in the student examples above largely provide the answers, suggesting that "average" Kuwaitis, those with the greatest wastah, tend to receive the answers, either from these outsiders, on whom they rely, or from others in their central group. In fact, the amount of cheating often seems to correspond to distances from the center. One cannot so easily generalize about the strength of Kuwaiti cultural adherence and cheating; indeed, several of the "Arab" and "Ard" students seem particularly committed to a set, Islamic-influenced code of behavior condemning cheating.
In general, then, this analysis must tentatively conclude that obligations that lead to group-oriented cheating form a debatable part of the students’ Kuwaiti Asil, not American, cultural adherence with potentially negative side effects in American (Western) situations. Cheating might lead ADM students to some situations in which they conceive of their behavior as morally defensible, but their American professors, fellow workers, or business partners conceive of that behavior as simply "wrong."
The next topic concerns problems with a teacher. By and large, at ADM and at SHS, students dealt with the teacher as one student to one teacher. In the extreme case at SHS, an entire class might resort to a group complaint to the principal, following the relatively orderly bureaucratic chain of command of the DoDDs environment (Fruit, 1997).
Two more interesting ADM student strategies in this respect, however, involve the practice of employing group advocates and wastah. In the former practice, a single student would approach the teacher on behalf of either the entire class or another student. The student advocate inevitably held characteristics that appealed to the teacher and usually high academic status. In other words, the advocate typically enjoyed the teacher’s "earned respect." For example, when students requested a postponement of an assignment, the top student, even if he/she could readily complete the assignment on time, always forwarded this request.
This returns to the second strategy used by the Al-Dharra Madressor student group, the employment of wastah. In a way, advocacy employed wastah, and occasionally SHS students attempted to use wastah. However, most instances of trying to use "wastah" at SHS (Fruit, 1991) failed not only due to perceived Western prejudices against the use of wastah but also because educators remained extremely wary of receiving gifts or even the appearance of accepting "bribes." Indeed educators needed to report to their superiors any gift received of $10 in value or more.
In the case of ADM students, when approaching the Arab administration or the Board, students chose as their speakers those with the most wastah in the school, even if the weakest students in the classroom. Thus, for example, while Muneera Al-Bohmah probably rated about the lowest of the students in both classes Q and F, in both cases she went to the office and pleaded the case on behalf of the entire class. Her known influence with the community, her centrality, made her the spokesperson.
In distinct contrast, note this speech from another student, one of the top students in his class: "You know, Mr. Dan, I never go down to the office and complain and play these games, like they do. That’s why I’m talking to you now...." Well he might say that. In fact, he held very little wastah in the office and hence no alternative means of relief other than direct discussion with the teacher.
In some instances at ADM, personal meetings with teachers took very unusual directions. In one instance, this researcher, as MUN director, uncovered some apparent cheating in an ungraded, event-related assignment. He contacted the student officer in charge of the event, and when he asked the student for names of those students involved, the student officer immediately gave them. A half hour later, the cheating student and the student officer stood in his office, she to apologize, and he to advocate on her behalf, much like an older brother caring for his sister. On another occasion, when the director cut one female student from MUN for poor performance, two much older male students appeared in his office, again, to plead her case, rather like older brothers.
In contrast to cheating, one might describe these uses of wastah and group advocacy, while somewhat alien to the American environment, as likely to lead to success in America but also as posing potential difficulties. In selecting a person respected by the teacher or the community as spokesmen, the students displayed a particular ability to adapt to two differing environments, one Western, in which earned respect held more value, and the other, Arab, in which wastah merited more. The challenge would come, though, in the American situations as to whether students could accurately determine which response better suited the situation.
For example, this writer has heard anecdotally that certain students’ continued attendance at a prominent Eastern university stems from their use of a Palestinian adult advocate who continues to subtly remind the university of the generous amount of money given by the students’ fathers as well as their full-price tuitions. Clearly, if true, using wastah fits in this particular situation, but that approach would fail in others. For example, one student attempted to offer a Western teacher a generous bribe to try to improve her grade.
The final area to mention concerns group disagreement. As indicated before, at SHS, students divided into sub-groups, jocks, scholars, basketball players, African-Americans, etc., so that one student might participate in several groups. One can hardly discuss the concept of a large group disagreement because the sub-groups largely lived out their own agendas within the general goal of graduation. Some students strove for college, some intended simply to finish, and still others intended to go into the military. These agendas seldom joined enough for even a group discussion, let alone a group argument.
In distinct contrast, one can consider Al-Dharra Madressor as constituting basically one group with some belonging more to this group and some belonging less. This larger group typically settled its problems internally. Indeed, as indicated in the previous section, the largest disagreement consisted in some individuals trying to work out the amount of sacrifice to group cohesion necessary for inclusion: help a person here, cheat a bit there, modify your outlook, etc.. For these outsiders, growing up meant growing in.
Thus, this section generally shows that ADM students differentiated from those of SHS by working together and offering a "united front" in the face of perceived adversity. Of course, this pattern closely corresponds to the pattern offered in previous chapters for Arab society. Thus, one can consider them as clearly Arabs.
Their ability to function in American or even mixed environments seems more problematic. While few Americans would argue against such values as teamwork, loyalty, and commitment, the wider boundaries for such behaviors accepted by the students seem potentially to lead them into some behaviors generally condemned in American society. Thus, though college educators and employers would marvel at the ADM student study groups, they would certainly not congratulate students helping one another to cheat. Further, while they might applaud the political savvy shown by the students in dealing with adults from two different cultures, they would likely regard any attempts of the ADM students to use "wastah" to achieve their ends as either "corrupt" or, even if accepted, contemptible.
Thus, though one can reasonably conclude that only some individuals, likely the USd, American, or High Biculturals, might really thrive alone in American situations and show American cultural proficiency, a larger group, presumably the Ma, Ard, and Arab archetypes, could likely find external success, in terms of college graduation, business contracts, if in the presence of their fellow Al-Dharra Madressor classmates and fellow Kuwaitis who did not lead them astray. Further, the price of success, likely to fall on the strong, could potentially lead members, or even the whole group, into behaviors not accepted in American society.
This situation, the reliance on the stronger by the weaker, suggests that, in the future, ADM students, like other Kuwaitis, will continue to "colonize," the stronger members using their American (Western) proficiency in service of the more "Arab" members of the group. Thus the American cultural proficiency, even biculturality, of certain individuals becomes an important individual feature shared with all members of the group.
A question that holds possibly more perceived than actual importance relates to the "political activities" of Arabs and, specifically, ADM’s Kuwaiti students. Several Kuwaiti names, of course, appeared in the list of those involved in the activities of Osama Bin Laden. Thus, this section must seek to provide some answers to the question: Would Al-Dharra Madressor students’ political, "anti-American" beliefs make them unable to fit comfortably into the West, specifically the United States?
In general, as a teacher charged with teaching economics and humanities, this researcher can make several general conclusions largely on the basis of student conversations. First, the Kuwaitis, while increasingly cynical of American motivation regarding the freeing of Kuwait, generally concede that Kuwait must remain an ally of the United States. They retain a skepticism of presidents Clinton and Bush, and many claim that the United States used Saddam Hussein as a tool until he no longer suited its purposes. In this respect, one can characterize their view as not necessarily different from some Americans, particularly those of Arab descent, and in line with that of most Arabs. Most ADM students, also, expressed condemnation both of the Taleban and Osama Bin Laden’s form of religious extremism, indeed with even Saudi Arabian religious extremism and with Iran’s theocracy.
However, two particular issues perhaps serve not only as a point of identification but as politically dividing Al-Dharra Madressor students from Americans. Two student projects perhaps portray these issues the best.
The first concerned the senior project of Sara Duktahr and Raha Al Beiket on POW awareness, and the second concerned Palestinian awareness and relief efforts. As numerous sources detail, during the long Iranian-Iraqi War, the Shia of Kuwait fell under considerable suspicion. The Kuwaiti regime loaned generous amounts of money to Saddam Hussein in order to keep his weaker nation from falling to the numerically superior, often fanatically inspired troops on the Iranian side. Iran tried to encourage the Shia in those Gulf countries actively supporting Iraq to rise up and oppose their Sunni-dominated rulers. The prominence of the Shia and the importance of some Iranian immigrants in the Kuwaiti oil industry made for ample opportunities for undermining a government Iranians considered not "ungodly," but certainly unfair in its partisanship. After several incidents of sabotage, the Emir not only suspended Parliament but also expelled a number of suspect Iranians. The Gulf War, however, served to unite Kuwaiti Sunni-Shia since Saddam indiscriminately killed either group.
Students, either from government censorship or from a willingness not to know, today show little knowledge of either (a) Kuwait’s backing of Saddam in the Iran war or (b) Iran’s corresponding attempts to undermine the Kuwaiti government. Instead, memories revolve around the War itself and America’s previous backing of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.
According to the testimony of almost every non-Kuwaiti, the Iraqis literally "took no prisoners" during their occupation. They killed with so little warning and such randomness that even consulting Iraqi records would certainly leave a number of Kuwaitis unaccounted for, well more than the 500 whom Kuwait today alleges Iraq holds captive. One Pakistani present throughout the occupation laughed at the very mention of these Kuwait "prisoners of war:"
There are no "prisoners of war." I saw one time that the Iraqis were just pissed. They went and grabbed the first two guys in dishdashas they saw and took ‘em. We never saw them again. Their bodies are out there in the desert.
Other non-Kuwaitis tell similar stories. Indeed, the Kuwaitis’ ongoing belief in the POWs forms something of a standing-joke in the non-Kuwaiti worker community.
In this light two girls from prominent ADM Shia families made their project to promote POW awareness. The willingness of the press and even the government to readily support this project speaks to more than just timeliness. Politically, many saw this as a bridge to closing some of the suspicions between Shia and Sunni by bringing to the fore their common suffering from Saddam. Further, the project implicitly blamed the United States for not "pushing" the issue.
This first project, then, brings to the fore several particular beliefs of ADM students. The ADM community, probably far more strongly than that of other schools, believes in the existence of these POWs, just as the Vietnam Veterans believed in the existence of Americans held in Vietnam. Further, the perceived reluctance of the USA to force Iraq on this issue, which probably matters more to the Kuwaitis than Saddam’s "Weapons of Mass Destruction," serves only to heighten suspicions that the USA really supported Saddam all along. Thus, a conversation between an American and an ADM student about the origin and status of the Kuwaiti POWs might well show two sides with little in common and the ADM student’s impatience with United States.
A more recent project speaks to another simmering dispute. In the spring of 2001, during the height of the Second Intifada, an ADM student project involved building a bulletin board showing occupied Palestine. Each time a member of the Al-Dharra community purchased a ticket, this earned him/her a right to place a piece of paper representing that ticket on the map. Quickly, the pieces of paper covered not only the West Bank, but traditional Palestine as well, flooding well out into the desert. The money for the project went to a reputable charity on the West Bank. This, like the POW project, resulted in a television crew coming to Al-Dharra to interview the Palestinian teacher who sponsored this project and the crew of enthusiastic Kuwaiti students who assisted him.
This slowly increasing partisanship for the Palestinian cause might also serves to divide ADM students from Americans. ADM students, like most in Kuwait according to the latest editorials, believe that the United States continues to give Israel almost a blank check and condones the Israeli policy of assassinating perceived terrorists. Officially, the mention of Israel and Iraq remains banned from ADM school discussion. In fact, given any opportunity, students will discuss both. In fact, the only lack of sympathy for the events of September 11, 2001, came from a few students who believed that the attack came as an inevitable consequence of America's policy of supporting Israel.
Some students, in fact, questioned the ability of American teachers to teach the students anything about morality when those teachers voted into power an unjust government. One student said. "How can you [the American teachers] tell about right and wrong when you continue to support Israel killing Palestinians?"
Both of these projects, then, implicitly return to the concept of "me and my brother against...." In both cases, the Americans lay at the outside of the circle of relationships, as perceived supporters of enemies of (a) Kuwait [Iraq] (b) the Arabs as a whole [Israel]. These projects served to unite the community at ADM.
In contrast, no similar projects captured the imagination of SHS. In fact, the most noted projects involved helping the local orphanage. Senior projects tended to revolve around helping someone, and the community largely remained disinterested in them. However, this forms something of an unfair comparison, given the contrasting political situations. More to the point, AIS (American International School-Kuwait), a school with a substantial Palestinian community, became the site for a number of school rallies in support of Palestinians, but, according to the reports of the teachers, this served more to divide than to unite the school.
This, then, returns to the question: Would the ADM students’ political questioning of American positions lead to their inability to function in American situations? Could it lead them to violence if granted student visas?
Needless to say, this researcher certainly does not believe that the latter will happen. While a few members of Kuwait society have fallen under the influence of extreme Islam, this does not include ADM students. If anything, the effect of more serious Islam at ADM seems to lead to students questioning of certain Kuwaiti behavior patterns and, more often, tightening controls over their own behavior.
On the other hand, the ADM student, except the most educated, worldly student, such as one in the MUN or NHS program, would likely experience some difficulties in adjusting to the political climate of the United States today that tends to equate Islam, Arabs, terrorism, and war together. Students could largely overcome all of these problems simply by avoiding the subjects of Iraq and Israel, but with those two issues of so much emotional importance to students, this might prove difficult. Further, even the purported atmosphere of American "freedom in thought" would not necessarily protect them from negative attention. In this respect, then, ADM’s attempts to create a secondary Western culture proficiency while simultaneously avoiding all politically dangerous conversations, may not necessarily work. Further, if discussion of Iraq and Israel/Palestine continue to dominant the American political agenda, students will find greater difficulty in adjusting to the climate of the West.
Raphael Patai (1973) argues that Arab lateness stems from Arab culture, arguing that Arabs value relationships over punctuality, leading to persons with no "sense of time" in the Western sense. In contrast, as the AWSIT indicates, Westerners place a high value on time and consider punctuality as displaying competence and responsibility. However, the AWSIT also shows that Arab teachers also place a high regard on punctuality.
During the past four years, ADM made no fewer than four different plans to try to solve the problem of student tardiness. At first, the school changed its schedule from having an ungraded homeroom at the beginning of the day to having a regular class. Next, it mandated that teachers should, whenever a student came tardy, have that student fail an assignment. Finally the high school adopted a policy of requiring each tardy student to lose 1/2% of his grade for the semester. In 2002, the school adopted a "zero tolerance" policy whereby late students simply miss their entire first period and repeated tardies led to progressively more potent consequences.
While the first three programs made some progress, none of them really eliminated the problem. In this context, note that, unlike a typical American high school such as SHS, few students come tardy to any class other than first period, and few even use their lockers, the usual source of SHS tardiness. Hence, the problem consists entirely in students coming late to school from home.
Several factors, however, suggest that tardiness stems from different factors than a simple lack of responsibility and not from Patai’s lack of "sense of time" either. First, unlike an American school, as Al-Dharra high school students age, they come to school late more often. Second, in teaching some mixed-nationality adult classes at AMS, this researcher became aware of an adult tardiness pattern: the more important a person’s social position, the later he/she came to the class. For example, the foreigners, even foreign Arabs, very seldom came to class late; Kuwaitis came late. In other words, tardiness indicated social position, and, as one might expect, older students ought to come to class tardy more often.
The seniors, in fact, account for half of the tardiness problem in the school and, from there, the problem diminishes to such an extent that one can consider the remaining tardies below grade nine as due to carelessness. Further, boys come tardy more often than girls, and thus tardiness tends to show the relative importance of the two genders in the school’s social world. Perhaps, needless to say, a lot of the students most often tardy come from the Five Central families mentioned in chapter eight, and the three most tardy students in the class of 2002 belong to these families.
To test this hypothesis, this author analyzed the case of class W, a first-period all senior class in which the teacher not only carried out all of the school’s tardy policies but even resorted to calling parents of tardy students. The class included all Kuwaitis, but only some of them directly related to the school owner (the Five Families), and not all came from the same class of Kuwaitis. Further, the class held a mixture of Shia and Sunni and boys and girls. This yielded ranked categories of: (5) Five families, (4) Asil, (3) Other Kuwaitis (2) foreigners (none present). In addition, he subtracted a single point for Shiism and femininity. This created the following table of social importance.
Next, he considered total tardies. In this context, it bears mention that many students "miss" all of first period to avoid a tardy. Hence the figures below assume that each third absence should actually count as a tardy. Estimating the total tardiness (retaining fractions) creates the following chart that ranks students according to their social importance. Note the general conjunction of this ranking with their tardiness:
The two discrepancies in bold (H and D) show the only real variations in this pattern and only a slight variation in the case of D. In fact, some other students maintain that H is not Shia, which would place her, as expected, below B. Thus, one can generalize that the higher a person’s social status, the greater the likelihood of tardiness. A further comment seems required considering the very high number of tardies. This class formed one of the two most tardy classes in the entire school, perhaps unremarkable considering the extremely high social standing (3.62) of this all-senior class even in comparison with many other senior classes. This corresponds to the AGS question in which students believed the Kuwaiti owner the most likely person to come late to a meeting and in which the high-status Kuwaitis accounted for 68% of the lateness at the meeting.
If it should come as no shock that those with the least amount of status worry most about coming on time, perhaps more surprisingly, the severe consequence, no admittance tardy policy adopted by a new assistant principal did result in a dramatic reduction in tardiness. This may suggest one of two conclusions. First, this author’s entire theory may hold no value or, alternately, only severe consequences forced students to change to a more "American" pattern of coming on time. In this respect, since students seldom come late to any class other than the first one tardy, fewer students now come tardy to post-Draconian ADM than either SHS or TJHS.
This returns to the question: Could students adjust to the pattern in the United States to suit the changed environment? As the AWSIT interviews indicate, many students never come late under any circumstances in agreement both groups of teachers. Would it take severe consequences to convince the others as to the need to come on time to a job interview or to a meeting with a college counselor? Could they determine, as seems the case above, when coming late expresses status versus when it represents folly? Could the 25% who indicated they might lie to try to avoid the consequences of tardiness successfully avoid all consequences?
This study cannot provide a final estimate. Here, however, one must note that students' perception as to the value of coming on time, and their response to it, may form barriers to their attempt to adapt to American (Western) situations.
Another way of looking at the particular challenges for students of Al-Dharra adapting themselves to Western situations consists in viewing the concept of student responsibility. As related in chapter one and chapter five, typical Asil children live in an unusual world in which they live surrounded by wealth in positions of relative power, yet insulated from responsibility by protective parents and a cushion of servants.
To understand this, think of the situation involving the average ADM student, "Ziad." He does not wake up in the morning; rather, a maid knocks on his door to awaken him. After Ziad dresses for school, the family driver takes him and usually his several siblings to a list of schools on a complex circuit that may include government schools, private girls’ schools, and two campuses at ADM before dropping him off (Al-Khansa, 2002).
After arrival home, Ziad lives a life that many American adults would envy. Due to the cheapness of Indian and Filipino maids, Ziad does not clean up after himself. Indeed, he may complain if the servants do not do a good job of arranging his things. If he wants something, the ubiquitous servants typically go to fetch it. If he wants to go out, often the decision involves nothing more than telling the driver to get the car. As Longva comments, wealth functions as a distinction, even a symbol, of Kuwaitiness (Longva, 1997): "Kuwaiti wealth, leisure and power now stood in stark contrast with expatriate poverty, dependence, and labor" (p. 450).
As a general rule, the older students become, the more control parents allow them to assume over the servants. In addition, students enjoy a generous allowance, augmented by often very large gifts from relatives on holidays. This combination of wealth and servant-dependence mitigated by relatively high levels of paternal authority creates a mixed effect as students enjoy many adult privileges with few attendant responsibilities.
In fact, this atmosphere sometimes pervades the Asil adult world as well. Blame for bad decisions in this environment often falls upon those much lower on the decision-making hierarchy, to the agent, the man working on the line, or the expert, all foreigners. However, in the adult world, actions cause some consequences, regardless of the assignment of blame, which inevitably fall upon those ultimately responsible. Thus, an Asil owner may berate an Egyptian manager for the destruction of his company, even dock the Egyptian’s pay, but that will not restore the company to good health.
ADM students often lack these logical consequences for their actions. For some, school functions as the only stress in their young lives (Al-Khansa, 2002), and some do not cope well. Some fall naturally into the mode of depending upon and blaming others. In four years, this writer never saw a servant, maid, or guard do much more than gently chide a Kuwaiti child for any behavior, but he observed Kuwaitis severely criticizing adult servants, maids, and guards. Some parents, falling into a similar pattern, joined their children in blaming the teacher, not the child, for poor classroom performance. In this context tutoring plays a part in this entire situation. The presence of the tutor creates, once more, an ambiguity about who bears responsibility for the child’s performance. Indeed, a student's doing poorly on a test generally results in firing the tutor, not in punishing the child.
Needless to say, this attitude contrasts with that of West, which tends to view the entire school process as building independence and a sense of personal responsibility. Even the richest of students at SHS did not have the kind of wealth available to the average ADM student. If one can describe ADM students as often powerful but not responsible, one can describe SHS students as less powerful but more responsible, with TJHS’ immigrants' children even more powerless and more responsible.
The question, then, becomes to what extent students of that ADM environment could "understand" and interact with the West in the terms posed earlier in the definition. To what degree, for example, could they understand the position of the maid in Western culture or how to survive without the presence of servants?
One particular instance involving this author may provide some hints. When with a group of students in Ireland, he sent one student ahead to try to secure a table at a rather expensive restaurant. The student emerged two minutes later with the information that, according to the waiter, the restaurant contained no empty tables. When this author went inside the restaurant a minute later, the waiter immediately indicated an empty table and offered to seat him and all of the students.
The obvious deception on the part of the waiter incensed the students who condemned him in the loudest terms. The waiter lied, in all probability, because he did not take the student seriously who initially asked for a table. "How would he expect," the author told the students, "that you would have plenty of money? How many sixteen-year-olds have that kind of money?" The students insisted, though this researcher did anyway, that he not leave the waiter a tip.
This incident should serve two purposes. First, it indicates that the waiter probably mistook the student, who wore Western clothes, for a Western child. Secondly, it suggests that such an incident would not happen in Kuwait. In Kuwait, either by dress or by speech, everyone would have immediately recognized the student as Kuwaiti and taken him seriously. Just as importantly, it shows some of the difficulties ADM students would experience in situations in which others did not treat them with deference. Certainly, none of the students understood the waiter’s position and realized that an Irish child of sixteen would likely have lacked the wealth to reserve a table at an expensive restaurant and did not really merit the waiter’s consideration.
One can argue that this does not particularly matter, as students’ wealth will, again, cushion them from many of these experiences. After all, many Kuwaiti college students bring along a maid anyway. The poorer ADM students who already experience relative want already know how to survive in such situations and, as the section below will indicate, how to hide their "poverty." Further, some students show express real understanding and sympathy with their servants, especially their Indian maids. They express the general view, for example, that only a Bedouin would mistreat a servant. One does not picture an ADM student working his way through college, let alone working at McDonald’s, so perhaps they only need the knowledge necessary to successfully order at McDonald’s or at an expensive restaurant.
Further, as several teachers pointed out, it makes more sense, perhaps, to compare ADM students to children of very rich, not average, Americans who might send their children to private schools and hire servants. Thus, one has to compare the ADM student’s ability to cope with "only" one maid to similarly privileged American youth. In contrast, though, to a student of that class ADM students have their group to support them and to aid them.
This section will note some particular attributes of ADM students that seem highly likely to lead to success in America that one would probably not find paralleled in a similar body of American students. These qualities, of course, give generalities and do not describe every student:(1) Respect for elders (2) Quick Forgiveness (3) Happiness (4) Togetherness
Arab society in general and that of the Asil in particular retains a traditional respect for elders which includes not only their parents, as shown on the AWSIT, but their teachers as well. While this may not always translate into good behavior, it does translate into a general attitude of respect. Further, one must generalize that, the older the person, the greater the respect. Once this author said in jest to an erring student: "I ought to yell at you for not doing that assignment."
The student immediately replied: "Of course. And that would be right, as you’re my teacher."
Once a teacher tried, in vain, to explain that, as an adult, he would speak to his father as one adult to another. To the senior students, this seemed baffling: "He’s your father. Of course, you can’t speak to him as an equal!"
Another concept worth mentioning concerns quick forgiveness. ADM students often seem to regard disputes in this way: "If God can forgive you, so I can I." Hence, they forget offenses against them almost as quickly as they occur. Further, since they tend to equate the verbal with the actual, often a conflict takes little more to resolve than saying: "I’m sorry." Within an hour, all participants consider the measure finished. Thus, one very seldom finds a bitter student in a classroom. In fact, if a grudge remains, it often stems from the Westerner's mistaken belief that the student simply must remain angry.
Third, one might consider students at Al-Dharra "happy" compared to students in American schools. Partly, of course, this results from a life of affluence, but they largely take wealth for granted. One finds few of the brooding, rebellious, sullen children of the West. About the only real problems, other than academic ones, tend to concern the "outsiders," explored earlier in this chapter.
Fourth, one might make this statement of any Arab group in Kuwait, but particularly of the Asil: they enjoy togetherness. Any time the school takes a field trip, invariably at least one student recognizes and happily greets a relative. Students come back from long absences to kisses from students and even faculty of the same gender. While the Westerner inevitably views the limitations of this world and its conformist social pressure, this orderly, family-oriented world provides insiders continual support and warmth. ADM students inevitably view the constant renewal of family relationships as a boon, not a burden, not only in the cynical sense of providing wastah but in the positive sense of providing support and love.
While not "prototypically American," one can imagine how this combination of qualities might enable success in an American environment. Respect for elders, while varying in intensity in American society, might well come as a pleasant surprise to Americans dealing with youth. Further, the ability of ADM Kuwaitis to generally recover quickly from bad events, and their seeming "happiness," might well prepare them for the various changes in fortune likely to strike them during their sojourn in America. Finally, as stated previously, the family and community always offer a support network and argues, as before, that a group of Kuwaitis almost always stands a greater chance of success than an individual. Further, as the following section will indicate, ADM students generally seem correctly to perceive that the group constitutes more than the sum of its parts and this particular method offers some strengths and weaknesses in varying Arab and Western cultural contexts.
As a final set of observations, this author offers his MUN experiences. As a Model United Nations’ director, he experienced some unique and generally enjoyable opportunities to see ADM students in situations outside Kuwait. During his tenure as MUN Director, in the period between 1998-2002, the MUN group traveled to The Hague, Netherlands (1999-2000), Cairo, Egypt (1999-2000), Istanbul, Turkey (2001), Dublin, Ireland (2002), and Amman, Jordan (2002). Originally, the group intended to go to New York for the world’s biggest MUN in 2002; only the tragic events of September 11th effectively scared the community out of its willingness to let students travel to New York.
Previously, this analysis indicated some problems with all of the previous studies of Kuwaitis due to their overwhelming reliance on Kuwait University students for data. The government pays all of the tuition fees for Kuwaitis wishing to attending KU and with a sufficient GPA for admittance. Further, as mentioned in previous sections, conservative parents often do not allow their single daughters to attend college abroad, meaning that they opt for Kuwait University for their daughters, even if they send their sons abroad. More liberal parents, of course, allow their daughters to travel and do not send them to KU. Hence, Kuwait University double-selects for the more conservative Kuwaitis and even resident Arabs since (a) liberal Asil tend to have the money to send their children abroad and (b) daughters of more conservative parents tend to keep their daughters at home, accounting for the traditionally disproportionate female population at KU. Hence KU studies typically err in their excessive-conservatism.
In this respect, however, the composition of the Model United Nations group, if anything, over-selects for the more liberal, Westernized population at ADM. First, unlike some other MUN groups at other schools, the director stipulates students must remain in the program for the entire season, which effectively excludes any females who do not have permission to travel. Second, attendance in a mixed-gender school such as Dharra already pre-selects for a more liberal group of students. Third, since the school does not fund any portion of the costs for MUN, the mere cost (between $1500 and $3000) of participation, which students pay, tends to weed out the more conservative, lower class even among Al-Dharra’s population. Hence, MUN tends to draw a particularly liberal-minded group of Kuwaitis. If anything, then, conclusions drawn using the MUN group will tend to underestimate conservatism, in contrast to the KU studies.
Two other facts bear mention about group composition as well. After the current Director overhauled the program to make it a kind of "school high-achiever" program, this made some difference in group composition. In particular, this tended to bias the program somewhat towards (a) Shia and (b) foreigners. To take the composition of the SAIMUN (Ireland) group as an example:
However, the passport situation does not always give the total picture. For example, the three non-Kuwaitis included two "Saudis" both with Kuwaiti mothers and one "Australian," in reality a Palestinian. One girl born in an American hospital, with Kuwaiti parents on both sides, actually travels on an American passport. Further, this ignores the three children with American mothers and Kuwaiti fathers. Counting all of these "half-Kuwaitis" as half-Kuwaitis rather than simply using passport nationality, one more reasonably arrives at the following figures:
The Shia percentage, however, occasionally rose to much higher levels. For example, when the group participated in the 2001 debate championship, the tournament team included:
In many respects, then, the MUN group represents a fairly typical, if more liberal, group of Al-Dharra students. Further, the group tends to vary a bit towards the presumably more liberal group of foreigners and the traditionally more hard-working group of Shia.
It bears mention, in this context, that Dharra’s MUN program, which dates from 1993, offers about the only serious MUN program that includes Kuwaitis. Kuwait American School (KAS), American International School (AIS), and Kuwait British School (KBS), also offer large, competent MUN programs, but, as indicated before, include very few Kuwaitis. Hence any conclusions of studies of those groups traveling would more likely reveal that of a group of international students abroad, not a group of Kuwaitis abroad, the subject for consideration here. With MUN, then, one can draw a number of observations about students’ reaction to a variety of travel experiences, including travel in the Arab World (Cairo and Amman), the Muslim but not Arab World (Istanbul), and the West (Amsterdam and Dublin).
In this respect, this author must explain that his experiences in traveling with ADM offer an interesting contrast with his travels with his previous school, Samurai High School.
In each case, he traveled with essentially "team" groups, drama groups, debate teams, MUN, as well as traditional sports teams. In general, then, one can characterize his experience with Samurai High School as offering a direct contrast between an experience with American students versus one with Kuwaitis.
This analysis will not really delve into the actual activity itself, the game, the MUN event, the debate tournament, etc.. These tend not to differ markedly. In each case, students have set tasks that their "coaches" help them perform. Nor can one mark any real difference in performance between the two groups as, in all cases, students performed well simply to get in the organization in the first place. Therefore, this analysis concerns what students did when on their own time.
Before taking the very first trip with ADM, the MUN director talked with the school director, Mr. Newman. The school director advised him to adopt stances related to many of the generalizations above that paint a conservative picture of student behavior. Students showed few signs of resistance to the relatively tight rules imposed both by the MUN director and, as explained later, themselves. The school Director stated, although this does not constitute a verbatim quotation:
"I think our parents' attitude towards MUN is a bit of their attitude towards the outside world. They’re a bit cautious, not really that secure with it. So they want a lot of assurance."
In fact, before each trip, the MUN director held meetings with parents. In large part, these meetings served to assure parents that the trip would occur under conditions of which they would approve. As the MUN Director spent more years at the school, he found that (a) fewer parents attended these meetings and (b) parents who attended once usually felt reassured enough to allow their children to go in their place to the next meeting. These meetings, and word circulating around, reassured them that "Mr. Dan" knew enough about Kuwait society and norms that no major mishaps would occur. Having said this, one can turn to explore some of the generalizations listed above.
The first major point concerns the trip itself. On all trips, the students always preferred to stay in first-class hotels, such as the Hilton, Istanbul, and the Meridian, Cairo. Parents insisted on this for two distinctly different reasons. First, particularly in Cairo, their family lived at a certain level, and they expected their children to live at that level. Kuwaitis themselves admit that they often spend their "foreign vacations" traveling from the lobby of the Hilton to that of the Meridien meeting Kuwaitis. The one instance in which the group stayed at a three-star hotel in Cairo, the event made such an impression on one parent that even a year later she commented: "I hope it’s not as bad as the Maadi last year." The lowly three-star hotel in Ireland even merited mention in the article Shuaiba Al Suda, the student correspondent. The Kuwaitis always travel first class, but also these hotels offer to parents a known quality.
In contrast, SHS students stayed, basically, wherever possible. This included military housing, when provided, cheap off-base hotels, the floor of school gyms, and the preferred alternative: homes of the families hosting the event, "home-stays." At every event ADM attended, host schools presented home-stays as an option, but Kuwaiti parents universally objected to the concept, just as they objected to offering home-stays to visiting schools. The parents did not per se object to home-stays; rather, the following paraphrases what a parent said concerning this subject: "Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, it can be done. First, though, we have to get to know the families, talk to them some, get to know them. Maybe if they’re Muslims..."
In effect, the way in which they wanted to know the parents of their hosts precluded home-stays. In this respect, this author must note how some other Kuwait private schools solved this issue. Some schools in Kuwait traveled abroad and entered home-stays, and this meant that the objecting students, usually Kuwaitis, simply did not travel. AAG, the all-girl school, solved the same problem a bit differently; each traveling girl brought a male relative who traveled with her to Geneva. So one can consider ADM parents as, again, relatively liberal in comparison to other Kuwaiti parents.
A related point concerns the choice of events. The event in The Hague holds a certain distinction as the world’s largest. When this author first came to Kuwait, the MUN group annually traveled to The Hague. Some parents traveled there on business, and so The Hague, like the first-class hotels, represented a "known factor." As the years progressed, and the author’s acquaintance with the school community grew, he gradually persuaded parents to take more daring trips, first to Egypt, then to Turkey, and finally to Ireland. Each constituted, in its way, an environment less familiar and known. This would have culminated in the trip to the NYMUN, the world’s second largest, except for the tragedy of September 11th. The week before September 11th, 2002, one parent said to this author a statement that perhaps mirrored the general attitude: "New York? New York?....if Mr. Dan says it’s okay."
In contrast, SHS decision-making usually took little time. The biggest question, typically, involved money. As active-duty military members, middle-to-lower class, parents did not have a lot of choice in terms of accommodation. Most of the concerns of Kuwaitis, frankly, would not have occurred to them. Whereas the parents of the Kuwaitis worried about sending their children to a strange home, SHS parents worried far more about not sending their children to stay with a family, and the reasons for that will appear below.
The choice of staying in hotels on MUN trips inevitably imposed financial hardships on some of the parents. While most parents yawned as they sent the money to school, a few needed to come to special arrangements, pay over time, etc.. Three of the less affluent parents worked out separate arrangements for the trip, using their business connections to secure lower-cost tickets, hotel prices for the group. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lower cost arrangements sometimes led to special bargains for their own children and perhaps a means of masking some difficulties they faced in meeting the original prices.
This brings about the entire question of cost. When the MUN Director protested to ADM parents and students of the need to keep the costs down to accommodate academically eligible but poorer students, parents and particularly students vehemently denied that anyone in the group had trouble with securing the necessary funds. One student angrily declared: "Who can’t afford this trip! Just ask them." In fact, the suggestion that parents could not afford to pay seemed to some not only an insult to the families in question, but to the greater group. Perhaps not strangely, some of the students most loudly espousing going "first class," including the student above, left the meeting only to have their parents privately plead for lower costs.
In contrast, SHS parents expressed few qualms about wanting to save every cent, and they showed no hesitation in voicing this need. Indeed, if the first question of ADM students always revolved around, "Which hotel?" with SHS it always asked, "How much does it cost?"
The role of the MUN Director in the two situations profoundly differed. With the typical SHS trip, outside of actively coaching and encouraging students, the major role of the teachers consisted in "administering" the rules and actively searching for missing students. After all, one of the main reasons SHS students went on trips consisted in escaping parental supervision and "being on their own." In this context, it bears mention that DoDDs (Department of Defense Dependent Schools) did not always insist on a female chaperone, though this author did always try to have one. The administrative portion of the job dealt with specific instances of students breaking or attempting to break school rules by not reporting for curfew, drinking, smoking, etc..
In distinct contrast, traveling with ADM students entailed taking on a more parental role. Particularly in novel situations, students showed few instances or inclinations of wandering far from their elders, male and female. Indeed, students often insisted upon dragging unwilling adults off to go shopping, eating, visiting, etc.. Part of this stemmed from students’ good-natured perception that adults left alone too long would get "lonely," which, in and of itself, makes a cultural statement. A female chaperone remained an essential part of the ADM trip; indeed, girls would not travel without such a chaperone, and parents made very sure that the accompanying woman understood the Kuwaiti rules regarding male and female interaction, though, with an exception or two, girls understood these rules extremely well anyway.
In this respect, the adults on ADM trips encountered distinctly less need to administer "the rules," since, quite frankly, from even a Kuwaiti perspective, Kuwaitis showed very little inclination to push the limits, except on smoking. Hence, the time outside of the event, in distinct contrast to the DoDDs experience of chasing down students and monitoring them, largely consisted of going with them from one place to the next. In this respect, then, the trip probably closely resembled that of a Kuwaiti family traveling, albeit a rather large family. Possibly, one can carry this analogy further since many of the students, in fact, were related to one another.
This returns to the topic of disciplinary issues. Here, this researcher must caution that he remains a conservative sponsor even with American students, so his experience may differ a bit from more "laissez-faire" sponsors and those with the attitude of "let kids be kids" philosophy. One problem that inevitably occurred on SHS trips involved money either getting stolen or exhausting itself. In this context, the author resorted to telling parents the minimum amount for students to bring and then personally loaning the balance so that little remained around for theft, loss, etc.. Substance-abuse issues revolved around alcohol, against which this sponsor admonished, warned, and checked. The biggest verbal problem concerned students talking back, regarding performance issues. In this respect, also, this author would add that in regard to performance failure, or trip problems, students freely argued among themselves, sometimes almost coming to blows. Under the supervision of an often very-tough taskmaster, they applied the same standards to their friends and teammates, especially about performance.
Disciplinary issues with the Kuwaitis differed significantly. First, once the plane took off, money never became a problem. Then again at Al-Dharra no Kuwaiti ever steals money. While some students spent far beyond their budgets, their parents invariably and unquestioningly sent more money. The few students with real financial problems solved them independently by budgeting tightly and discreetly so others would not notice or comment. It bears mention, in this respect, that students occasionally treated the adults for dinner, not the reverse. The number one substance-abuse problem involved smoking. Nearly every adult Kuwaiti male smokes, and no matter what efforts this author put forward, older male students smoked in their rooms. The number one verbal problem concerned students lying. In fact, students often pretended sickness on event days if they felt tired. Since students often held very irregular sleep habits even in Kuwait, these "illnesses" sometimes became an on-going issue between the Western adults and the students.
This may give the appearance, perhaps unfairly, that Kuwaitis lie all the time and set poor standards for themselves. In fact, this author angrily leveled that charge a few times. Realistically, their transgressions lay far more open to view since they spent a lot more time with the adults. Further, instead of outright confrontation, American fashion, and saying, "I don’t want to do MUN today....," they resorted to something more face-saving and even socially accepted by their classmates. For a full report of one such set of instances regarding an MUN trip refer ADM 21 (ADM 21, 1998) in Appendix I.
This leads to the entire issue of "supportive" behavior. Invariably when students lied to the sponsors, other students supported them, no matter how outrageous the lie and no matter how poor the relations between the two students. However, the liars and "sick" students did not totally escape without consequences. Rather, the other members of their performance groups, their "countries," let their anger fall on them in private. Hence, those misbehaving students presented a group front to the foreign adults but exerted pressure on those not meeting standards. This distinctly contrasts with the SHS experience in which everyone, from adults to team captains, laid into non-performers and let liars bear their consequences alone.
Regarding "student society," this author means to describe what students do when no adults comes anywhere near them. To describe this, of course, means relying somewhat on second hand reports from the students and, in the case of Kuwaitis, this student-alone time represents a much smaller block of time. However, one can make some generalizations.
On a trip, SHS students’ number-one activity concerned "hanging around," i.e., socializing, shopping, talking, not particularly doing anything of note, "chilling." This activity led them to a relative openness to outsiders, particularly those of related, but not rival, groups hanging around with students from almost all other schools. Most students, except the most insecure, usually made at least a couple of friends from other schools. Further, it seems fair to say that any student without a boyfriend or girlfriend made at least some attempt at finding one either in the school group or at the event. In one particular instance, a SHS girl got off the plane, made a boyfriend within an hour, and spent almost the entire remaining week with her new boyfriend, allowing just enough time to compete, practice, eat, and sleep. To many SHS students, of course, finding the girlfriend or boyfriend constituted an important goal of the trip, at times more important than even the academic or athletic competition. Hence, with a SHS group, the essential tools remained a watch and a meeting point for reuniting the group. In the end of each performance session, the question inevitably became: "When do we meet next and where?" Then students quickly disappeared.
In decided contrast, the ADM trips revolved around the group. Since the group varied in size from 12 to 24, this made for some unwieldy situations. Often, the group consisted of one sponsor with some of the group and some portion with another. Sometimes, the group would break up into cohorts of between 3-5, led by an older boy. Even in Ireland, girls preferred, when shopping, to have at least some male escort. On one memorable trip, this sponsor and seven girls spent five hours finding a pair of boots for one girl’s aunt. The favorite activities involved shopping and eating.
In this context, note that, though the Kuwaitis speak English quite well, they often speak among themselves in Arabic with English words interspersed to address a particular topic. With an adult present, except an Arab speaker, they transition seamlessly to English. Thus, they can speak English quite well, and language does not form a significant barrier to socialization, even less so in Cairo, where everyone speaks Arabic, albeit a different dialect.
Yet, the Kuwaitis usually remained guarded in their interactions with others and made few friends outside the group. In MUN situations, they typically constituted the only Kuwaitis present. The few students who made friends sometimes became somewhat suspect as others thought: "Who’s he hanging around with?" This author, believing that meeting others forms a part of MUN, pushed them as much as possible, even resorting to taking up conversations with other non-Kuwaitis, introducing them to his students, and pushing them forward. He even graded students on obtaining an email address from a "new friend." Most Kuwaitis, however, remained more insecure with this. This may explain to some extent, the common jibe other Arabs lash at Kuwaitis "They’re so arrogant. They never hang around with anyone else." The supposed arrogance, as Longva (1997) and Blandford (1976) suggest, sometimes hides a deep insecurity.
Finally, regarding the opposite gender, boys and girls did not pursue this at all. In fact, the boys and girls traveling together fundamentally constituted a group of brothers and sisters. The Kuwaiti and Arab girls, with their relatively few interactions with boys of other countries, gave little opportunity to outsiders. Further, though girls often own a quite Westernized wardrobe, on MUN trips they typically chose their most conservative Western outfits, and in fact, they reserved their more daring dress for events within Kuwait. This served to make them particularly un-noticed in a room full of low-riding, mini-skirted Americans, British, and even Turks. Thus, the awkward moment, when the Western boy asks out the Kuwaiti girl, did not occur, even assuming it could, given the amount of time the girls spent surrounded by Kuwaiti boys.
More interestingly, despite the fact that this author knows that most Kuwaiti boys end up, or claim to end up, with foreign girlfriends when they go to American summer camps, Kuwaiti boys made no apparent pursuit of foreign girls. The presence of Kuwaiti girls, perhaps, regulated the boys’ behavior. At any rate, their filling of time with other members of the group would have left little opportunity to pursue girls.
That leads, finally, to the last point. If one can describe the Americans, on tour, as basically a team overseen by an administrator, in the Kuwaitis you have a distinctly family group. While one can call Al-Dharra Madressor a "family," that takes on a new meaning during travel. The group travels together, shops together, and eats together. Arguments take place among boys and girls, but the group presents a united front to the foreigners, even the foreign adult director and chaperone. However, the things the Americans say, the Kuwaiti discount to the extent that they come from an American perspective. In other words, they obey the parental figure only so long as he or she does not visibly become "the American," proposing something too foreign to them. Thus, their actual actions fundamentally agree with the conclusions put forth by the AWSIT.
This leads back to the question of the degree of Western cultural influence. Putting a group of Kuwaitis into a new situation, one not too different from their college experience, did not have the effect of drawing them into more American behavior. Though the liberal environment offered an abundance of new opportunities, free time by themselves to "hang around," new friends to make, the opposite sex to pursue, they did not take much advantage of these opportunities. Instead, they chose to stay within Arab and, particularly, conservative Kuwaiti social norms. In fact, rather than their conforming to American norms, they subtly pressured the Westerners traveling with them to conform to their own norms.
One can argue that the presence of other Kuwaitis who would give second-hand accounts of their behavior acted as a restraint. However, these same students typically choose colleges to which other Kuwaitis go rather than purposely doing the opposite and "escaping." This argues that they find these supposed restraints not particularly restraining. Once more, as in the case of the AWSIT American situations, they knew the Western norms, but did not choose them.
Then, this returns to an important question: Can one term their MUN experiences as showing Western cultural proficiency? First, as mentioned previously, one must totally separate the performance results from that of cultural adaptation, particularly as MUN tends to accept only the most competent. The question, then, becomes primarily social: To what extent do their MUN experiences suggest their feeling "at home" in the United States or the West? First, in terms of showing signs of obvious distress one can term these MUN trips as showing success. Few students did things such as crying at night, expressing extreme unhappiness, homesickness, etc.. In fact, they probably showed less of this than did SHS students. Students actually competed to take these trips and even successfully extended one trip two additional days.
However, one would have to describe the MUN success as qualified in terms of showing Western cultural proficiency. Students, as implied in the sections above, largely dealt with the situation as a group, drawing upon group members for support and, particularly in the case of older boys, leadership and protection. To some degree, they used the MUN Director and female chaperones as both shields and as a quasi-members of the group, not in a necessarily manipulative fashion but more as a means of drawing adults into patterns they recognized as familiar. Notably, their strategy did not particularly differ in situations in the Arab world, such as Jordan or Egypt, or in the Western world of Ireland and the Netherlands. Further, while a few individuals showed signs of American-style independence, "biculturality," most students acted as "Ma," marginally bicultural, in that they adhered primarily to Arab Kuwaiti norms, making peace with that of the external environment as the need arose. To a large degree, indeed, one can describe them as having "taken Kuwait with them," and can project that the majority of the group would feel more comfortable following in the pattern of second-generation colonizers, not as blazing trails into new Western situations.
In general, then, these observations tend to support not only the work of writers such as Al-Thakeb (1985) who describe the Kuwaitis as only limited participants in Western culture but many of the conclusions offered in chapter thirteen.
Certainly, the anecdotes provide enough to differentiate the Kuwaitis, particularly Asil Kuwaitis, from their Western counterparts. They seem profoundly Kuwaiti in that most Al-Dharra students, albeit with some reluctance, pay the implicit price in becoming a part of the school’s social model and benefit from the experience. The benefits range from receiving tutoring, answers on tests, to the more difficult-to-quantify concept of emotional warmth. They differ politically from Americans on two specific and heartfelt issues, POWS and Palestine/Israel. However, one would not categorize them as the stereotyped "Arab terrorist," or even extreme in terms of professing Arab nationalism or Islamic revivalism.
They have a number of characteristics that would potentially detract from their ability to fit into the West. First, their commitment to the group may encourage behaviors not usually accepted by the West such as cheating and wastah-seeking. On the other hand, group membership can lead to students working together and pooling resources, including the greater Western cultural adherence of fellow ADM students. In this respect one could group them with similarly group-oriented subcultures in America.
In the MUN "test situations," the Kuwaitis did, indeed, prosper by drawing upon their strength, their group affiliation. In the eyes of the more individualistic American, this may characterize them as "un-American," in their lack of individualism. However, like many another group of American immigrants, but arguably to a greater extent, they drew upon group resources. This leads to the general conclusion offered in the final chapter.
Continuation Onward to Chapter 15: Conclusion
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