(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of seven essays on diversity penned by Trine University students.)

My name is Ebrihem Al Namie. I am from Saudi Arabia. I am a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering at Trine University.

I’m 23 years and married to a wonderful lady, who supported me to speak today. We first met in January 2015; we got engaged in July 2016, and finally got married this last summer in July.

I came to the states on Oct. 18, 2012. And I still remember that first time. Believe me when I say it was not easy. For those of you who have never left home, imagine leaving your parents, your family, your friends, some of your habits, maybe your daily routine, and maybe your hobbies. For those of you who have actually left home before you may know what I’m talking about. I was nervous, kind of scared. It was all new to me. I was afraid that I would not be able to communicate with people, that I would not be welcome, that I would not make friends and that I would end up being alone.

Luckily all of these fears were not true at all. I was able to fit in, get to know a lot of good people, and I was able to learn a lot. Not only in school but also in life. Hypothetically asking, do you know why? I think it is because of the diversity that I found in the United States. Let me tell you why I think diversity is important.

The United States, as most of you know, is one of the most diverse countries in the world. You can meet a lot of people from different cultures, backgrounds, religions, and races. And I personally have had the opportunity to meet people from many different cultures, countries and of many different races. Many of them were in the same position as I was – new to the country, worried about adapting and finding a place. And I think it is a privilege that I was able to meet all of them and learn a lot about them, about their different perspectives, cultures and religions.

All of this gave me a new perspective on life. I was able to see it from other people’s points of view which made me admire and respect my life and others’. It also gave me a new perspective on the importance of diversity.

Also, in diverse communities that have diverse languages you find yourself in the need of learning multiple languages, which is good because it actually has been proven that multilingual people are able to process information differently and see the world from multiple perspectives. For example, when I say something in Arabic, which is my mother tongue, and then translate it into English, the meaning is slightly different. I can say the same thing and see the world in two ways, which is great. This actually encourages me to learn more languages or to at least consider learning new languages. It actually made me more interested in learning new phrases and words from different languages, which made me learn more about other cultures.

Therefore, I encourage all of you today to give yourself the opportunity to learn about different cultures, religions and languages; and to see how important diversity is.

Ebrihem Edrees al Namie, of Saudi Arabia, is a student at Trine University and a member of the school’s Multicultural Student Organization. He presented this essay at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Angola during its recent annual Diversity Sunday observance.

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