When ELI student Fahhad Alshammari received a suggestion from his cousin in Saudi Arabia that it would be good to show support to Chinese students during their time of national hardship, Alshammari knew it was something he should act upon.
In short time, what started as a suggestion grew into a great idea, and Alshammari and the Saudi Student Association (SSA) reached out in friendship to their fellow Chinese students when they hosted an event at the ELI welcoming them to share in snacks, fellowship, and of course, Arabic coffee. The event was organized primarily by the SSA, but students from SABIC and the Foundation Year also contributed, resulting in what Assistant Director for ELI Student Life, Tim Kim, called a success.
“The atmosphere was good,” Kim explained. “The Chinese students who participated were appreciative of the gesture and seemed intrigued by Arabic coffee.”
“It was really great to see intentional intercultural engagement, and it was such a gesture of solidarity and empathy from Saudi students towards Chinese students,” she explained.
Originally, this gesture of friendship from the SSA was limited to the classroom, as instructor Jim Weaver allowed Alshammari to bring coffee and snacks into the class to share with his classmates. However, after the classroom event was a success, Alshammari decided to see if he could make it bigger.
“When I saw how my Chinese classmates were happy and appreciated what I did, I decided to do it in public with anyone who wants to join us. This event wouldn’t happen without the help of SSA and my friends” Alshammari said.
To grow the event, Alshammari reached out to Kim, who gave the SSA the go-ahead to host a bigger event at the ELI, and this allowed Alshammari and the rest of the SSA to meet their objective of sending a message of friendship to their fellow students.
“SSA wants to support our friends, and we wanted to show them how we pray for them in their difficult situation,” Alshammari said. “All that we want to accomplish is that we are all human, and there is no difference between us. We wanted to support them in their challenging time.”