Much of the discourse regarding the United States’ involvement with Iraq is centered on timelines, political blame shifting and the condition of the U.S. military. Of course the American media will focus primarily on the interests of the nation, but there is the occasional news piece detailing the events from the Iraqi perspective.
Even more rare is an article that highlights the experience Iraqi nationals have when they are in the United States, as did an article in yesterday’s Oracle.
The story traced the climate several Iraqi students at USF have faced in learning their way around their new university environment and country.
With more and more people seeking to escape the violence and confusion that is taking place in Iraq, USF and other universities across the United States are being presented with both a great opportunity and responsibility.
Universities stand to benefit in many ways if they increase and encourage policies that allow more Iraqi students to enroll in their institutions. The most obvious benefit would be from a public relations standpoint: The United States and its educational institutions are doing their part to take care of some of the two million-plus displaced Iraqis.
Also, what university wouldn’t want to take part in educating the next generation of Iraqi leaders? Cultivating a new set of politicians, doctors, professors and educators in a country aspiring toward democracy surely makes a difference in the geopolitical scene.
Additionally, Americans sharing a common liberal arts and sciences education with Iraqis allows for more understanding between both groups. This can go a long way in opening new lines of communication that could hopefully aid in peaceful solutions to problems that may arise in the future.
Many politicians and generals might be surprised to find that an American education sometimes proves more powerful than an armed vehicle or military presence in diplomatic circles.
Universities can also provide a greater insight into the United States for those from Iraq. Iraqis can experience the good will, tolerance and understanding of the American community, and can see firsthand the generosity and kindness of the American people that is becoming less apparent in U.S. foreign relations. In America, Iraqis can learn much more than their respective areas of study. They can learn that the American dream of freedom and rights can be the Iraqi dream, too.