OU Student, Aspiring Ambassador Invited to Speak to Atlanta International Students

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Anwaar Abu Shugair ’16

Every year the Atlanta Ministry for International Students hosts a welcome reception for international students who are studying in Atlanta. This fall’s 36th annual reception was held at Spelman College and Oglethorpe’s own Anwaar Abu Shugair ’16, a native of Jordan, was invited to address the hundreds of students who are making Atlanta universities their temporary homes this year.

The reception is open to all international students in Atlanta, making it a massive gathering of cultures where everyone can mingle, eat international foods, enjoy a performance by the Atlanta Opera, and meet “amigo families”—American families who open their homes to international students during the holidays. Anwaar was a part of the delegation welcoming the students to the U.S. and Atlanta.

amisEstablished in 1978 by local churches and the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, AMIS was created to encourage connections between Atlanta natives and international students to make their stay as comfortable and memorable as possible. Anwaar, who was a part of the program as a new international student last year, says that it had helped her to integrate into the American culture, which is drastically different from her own, she says. Anwaar especially enjoyed “getting to eat the turkey and pies on Thanksgiving” surrounded by new friends. As a result, she found it easy to feel comfortable in America and she quickly settled in and made a home of Atlanta and Oglethorpe.

Anwaar knew Oglethorpe would be the right place for her ever since she first started reviewing her options for universities with her school advisor in Jordan. Her high school, King’s Academy, promoted mastery of both English and Arabic, global citizenship, and boasts a world class liberal arts curriculum. This perfectly prepared her for an institution like Oglethorpe, which is rich in cultural life and the liberal arts. The size and the ratio of students to faculty here ensured her that she would not feel overwhelmed by being suddenly surrounded by thousands of students in a new country, and the curriculum was perfect for her career aspirations.

Anwaar is double majoring in Politics and Economics, and hopes to earn a master’s degree in the U.S. before returning to Jordan to possibly complete a PhD program there. One day she would like to be a diplomat, perhaps even the Jordanian ambassador to the U.S. She is already accumulating ambassadorial experience here at Oglethorpe through working in the Office of Admission and in the Academic Success Center as a tutor.

Gates Millennium Scholar Selects Oglethorpe

009Oglethorpe freshman Lila Siwakoti ’17 says that he’s thankful for many things. He should also be very proud of his accomplishments.

Lila was born in a refugee camp in Nepal and immigrated to the U.S. in 2009, thanks to a sponsorship from the International Rescue Committee. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the nonprofit responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

“Refugee life is not like a regular life,” says Lila. “You live at home in fear. You have food and medical shortages.” Adapting to a foreign culture and language was rough for him, he says. But over time, Lila and his family settled in to life in the U.S. and he says he is thankful to live here. Lila eventually became fluent enough in English to take AP and Honors classes and credits his religion, Hinduism, with helping him do well in school.

Gates-Millennium-Scholars-logoSo well, in fact, that Lila was awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding minority students with significant financial need. This year’s applicant pool for the scholarship was record-breaking, according to Lila. More than 54,000 students applied but only 1,000 are selected each year. To put this into perspective, less than 2% of applicants were accepted this year.

To qualify, students must demonstrate leadership abilities and academic distinction. They must also have two nominations for the scholarship—one for academics and one recommending the student for their leadership qualities. Lila graduated with a 3.9 GPA from Clarkston High School and actively participated in his community through volunteer work.

Lila chose to attend Oglethorpe because of Oglethorpe’s small class sizes. He likes the fact that you are able to visit professors during office hours and they know who you are rather than be a nameless member of the class. Plus, his family is important to him and the campus’s proximity allows him to remain close to them. He considers the scholarship a “blessing” and is currently deliberating on majoring in computer science and minoring in economics.

As part of the scholarship requirements, Lila participates as an ambassador for the Gates Millenium Scholarship program and is currently helping students from his alma mater with the application process. Ultimately, Lila wants to go back to Nepal or Africa and volunteer: “My long term goal is to help people.”