Scholarship Brings Influx Of Saudi Students To Madison Area

Monday, October 22, 2012

The woman in the cream-colored hijab has an extreme fondness for "Modern Family." Her eyes light up when talking about the fried rice and dumplings at Hong Kong Wok. When her daughter turns 1 next month, she's thinking of a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Arwa Alsughayyer loves the United States — the music, the movies, the fast food and freedom — but she's not about to let go of the traditions of her native Saudi Arabia.

"I'm not wearing this because somebody's forcing me," she said, smiling, of the hijab that covers all but her face. "We have a fashion for them. We spend a lot of money on them."

A walk across campuses locally and across the nation will show more faces like Alsughayyer, a graduate student at Edgewood College, and her husband, Suliman Alghnam, a graduate student at UW-Madison. They're here thanks to a massive scholarship program funded by the Saudi king that pays for promising young Saudis to earn undergraduate and advanced degrees in the U.S. and other countries.

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