Provided by Manaf Afyouni

Then and Now
The International Experience


A father and daughter compare their college experiences in U.S.

Hardika Singh / For The Post

A 20-year-old student from Dubai is 7,194 miles away from her dad but still feels close to him when she sits in the same place he sat almost three decades ago.

Amal Afyouni, a senior studying political science and sociology-criminology, enjoys the cool breeze on a sunny day while she eats her hot fried pickles at Jackie O’s Public House and Brewpub, which her dad, Manaf Afyouni, remembers as O’Hooleys.

Amal has a close relationship with her dad because of their shared love for OU. Amal said Manaf mocks her for studying too much because he said that he never studied while he was a student at OU. She said her dad spent 90 percent of his college career at O’Hooleys, now known as Jackie O’s, where Amal spends a lot of her time, as well.

Amal eats while wearing a pair of dull green leggings and a black T-shirt, not sporting her usual blue dress. Her dad was famous for wearing maroon Converse High Tops, a green jean jacket (that he dyed himself), a t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.

Although she was born in Texas, Amal grew up in Dubai. She left at 16 years old to study at OU, just like her dad when he left Kuwait in the 1980s to seek a more global education.

Manaf, who graduated with a business administration degree in 1986 and now works as the assistant managing director of the Gulf Scientific Corporation in Dubai, came to OU because he was attracted to the small college town experience. He liked the U.S. education system, which focused on the overall college experience rather than just a textbook.

Provided by Manaf Afyouni

Hardika Singh | FOR THE POST

Provided by Manaf Afyouni

Hardika Singh | FOR THE POST

Provided by Manaf Afyouni

“It opens up your mind, and frees up your mind to think, to learn and to innovate,” Manaf said.

While Manaf came in the 1980s to get a globalized education, many international students now choose to attend universities in their hometown because of the cheaper cost, Teresa Franklin, a emerita professor in the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies, said.

“They don’t have to come to the U.S. anymore to get a U.S. education,” Franklin added.

The difference in education systems is also one of the reasons why Manaf wanted his children, Amal and Nader, to study at OU.

When Amal was given a chance to come to the Midwest, she took it and applied online. Because their dad was an alumnus, Amal and Nader were able to receive in-state tuition. Manaf, however, applied to OU as an international student by sending his application through international mail after he saw OU’s name on the big and thick directory at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait.

Gerard Akindes, an international alumnus from Benin, graduated in 2010 with a doctorate degree, said that the difficulty of obtaining scholarships makes it hard for an international student to study at an American institution.

“If your parents are not very rich, you cannot afford to study at OU or any university,” he said.

Manaf said he paid about $2000 per quarter during the 1980s for tuition and board, which would be about $4,000 a semester. For the 2018-19 school year, the tuition and fees for international students is $21,656 and for in-state students it is $12,192, which makes it about half the international student tuition cost, according to OU’s website.

“I felt that I was always included. I never felt different, inferior, segregated against or excluded from anything.”Manaf Afyouni

Nader thinks the tuition at OU is given at an affordable cost to in-state students and while it is expensive for international students, Nader said it is worth it.

“They know the payoff in the future,” Nader, a senior studying finance and economics, said.

Amal said she chose OU because it resembles the environment of an Ivy League institution. The education system in Dubai is phenomenal, Amal said, but the main reason she came to U.S. was for certain freedoms, such as LGBTQ rights and freedom of speech.

“OU shaped me to be who I am, OU and Athens,” she said. “It welcomed a 16-year-old who had no idea what she was doing.”

Amal and Manaf have different experiences in their times at OU regarding ignorant and microaggressive questions from students. Amal, despite being a U.S. citizen, has been asked: “Do you have a ferrari?” “Oh my god, do you go to school on a camel?” “How did you learn to speak such good English?”

Unlike Amal, Manaf never received any racism or microaggression when he was a student. He said that if he did, he knew students would help out a member of the bobcat family.

“I felt that I was always included,” he said. “I never felt different, inferior, segregated against or excluded from anything.”

Franklin also thinks, like Manaf, the university has typically been supportive throughout the years. She gave the examples of the various student organizations like the Asian Student Council and the Ohio Program of Intensive English, which helps international students better their English skills.

In the ‘80s, Manaf said that the university was liberal, recalling how it took proactive measures to engage international students by bringing in speakers from abroad and sponsoring international festival events.

“At the university, I felt I was welcomed,” he said.

When Franklin first started working as a professor in 1994, she instructed the international students to resources available on campus such as the writing center, as many international students did not have computer and English skills.

All students now have access to the Student Writing Center and resources at International Student and Faculty Services, which helps provide information and assistance on immigration matters to international students, according to International Student and Faculty Services.

The university tries hard to attract international students from other countries, but Amal said it is hard for the university to cater to the needs of every type of international student because of the university’s large size.

Nader would love to see the international student population at OU to return. Nader, however, said he would recommend this school to anyone who wants to get a global education.

“It’s the ideal small-town experience, and college town experience, that you can ask for in four years,” he said.

Amal said it was necessary for her to attend OU, like her father did, because she said she would have been a different person if she had not come. Her eyes welled, thinking about her upcoming graduation. She wondered if she lived out her dad’s college legacy, as she had always admired Manaf’s college career.

“My dad is my best friend,” she said.

Development by: Megan Knapp / Digital Production Editor

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