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Global studies student gains new perspective in UAE

March 04, 2014

Editor's note: ASU's Kamra Sadia Hakim, a global studies major and Gilman Scholar, is currently studying abroad in the United Arab Emirates to strengthen her Arabic and immerse herself in Middle Eastern culture. She says she hopes to gain a better understanding of the world from an Arabic perspective. Here, she shares this experience in her own words.

As an American, I have always viewed the world from a western perspective. Being abroad has opened my eyes to so many different views and ways of life. I feel like I am finally learning about the world in its actuality. As culture shock sets in, I realize that systems, countries and places differ in policy, political thought and public ideology. For example, while the mainstream goal in America is to pursue a successful life as an individual without the aid of the federal government, the UAE works hard to ensure that all Emirati scholars receive a free college education, housing and living expenses. It is hard to adjust living amongst the top 5 percent most privileged humans in the world, as I come from a middle-class family in Phoenix, Arizona.

While the population of the UAE is only 15 percent native, I have learned so much about Arab culture, as I have befriended people from Egypt, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and many other countries within the Middle-East and North African region. While English is spoken the majority of the time, I have been placed in an intermediate Arabic course, instructed by world-renowned linguists.

The UAE is a business-hub, and as I have only been here for about a month, I was given the opportunity to be featured in a Nestle Wellness commercial that will air all over the UAE on March 5, to promote a healthier country. The UAE has one of the highest diabetes rates in the entire world. Working with the producer of this project was an experience within itself, as she has offered to connect me with public relations internships in Dubai over the summer. I cannot speak on where this experience will take me just yet; however, I know that it will grant me opportunities and experiences that I never thought possible.

I am set to graduate from Arizona State University in May of 2015, and while I do not have my eyes set on a career, but rather a way of life, I don’t find it hard to conquer that my professional life may begin in Dubai. The dream is that I will graduate and continue to work as a catalyst for the ONE Campaign. The ONE Campaign is a grassroots advocacy organization that focuses on the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Over the past decade, our effort to collaborate with the U.S. Federal government has saved more than 50 million lives, and has decreased mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS down to 2 percent. These results are incredible, and after having personally been thanked by African mothers for saving their lives during my internship in South Africa in 2012, I feel endowed to commit my life to service.

I anticipate law school after ASU, and then I hope to use my leadership in international law to create policy for humanity, not against it. Many sectors, private and public, are looking for well-rounded, bilingual individuals who are seeking world change through their collegiate experiences. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to see the world and my life through this lens.

Kamra Sadia Hakim is an undergraduate scholar majoring in global studies in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with certificates in social transformation, digital culture and Arabic studies.