Nesma Soliman speaks about Fulbright Scholar experience at WKU
- Elizabeth Roth
- Tuesday, March 28th, 2023
Nesma Soliman is a Fulbright Scholar from Alexandria, Egypt who teaches Arabic to students in the Department of Modern Languages in the Potter College of Arts and Letters for the 2022-2023 academic year.
When discussing why she chose to become a Fulbright Scholar, Soliman cites her interest in global linguistics, biodiversity, and different cultures. Ultimately, what motivated her to join the Fulbright program was her desire to live abroad and travel solo.
“Before I came to America, everything I ate and every social thing I did was involved in my culture. I was so used to it,” says Soliman. “Now, here in Bowling Green, everything I do, people say ‘wow.' I appreciate my culture, traditions, and religion even more.”
One of Soliman’s favorite aspects of her scholarship is challenging stereotypes inside and outside of the classroom with events like the Arabic calligraphy workshop that she held in February.
“When I see my students speak in Arabic, I feel like it’s a big achievement,” says Soliman. “All of the kids at WKU are amazing and smart. I just love them.”
While her Arabic lessons and events have broadened the academic and cultural horizons of WKU students, she has expressed how her time at WKU has also opened her eyes to differentiation and acceptance of difference without judgment. Originally, Soliman experienced mild apprehension when signing up to teach in the United States, due to the individualistic nature of American culture and how different it is from her own.
However, she credits a specific moment that happened early in her time in America that quelled any anxiety she had about the culture. One day, when Soliman was taking a walk in Bowling Green, a woman rolled down her car window to compliment Soliman’s dress. The entire experience took her by surprise and made her realize that she made the right decision to teach in the United States.
“My experience completely opposed my expectations,” says Soliman. “The people at WKU and in Bowling Green are welcoming, nice, and always smiling. They see potential in me and are always open to questions, which I appreciate.”
She also credits the large refugee community in Bowling Green for how inclusive and welcoming the citizens of the city are to diversity.
Soliman’s openness to new ideas and opinions has kept her curious and willing to accept new opportunities. She encourages students to take advantage of the university’s countless study abroad programs as it gives them chances to grow their character and network in a new environment.
“What you gain from traveling abroad is not materialistic, but emotional and for your character,” says Soliman. “If you don’t do it now, when will you?”
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