Emirati Students Ready for New Challenges

ABU DHABI — Emirati students back from summer stints abroad seem to have absorbed quite a bit in all ways and what’s interesting is the fact that they have gained in confidence, ready to take on the harder aspects of life.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Sat 22 Aug 2009, 12:35 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:23 AM

With no close ones and friends around, they lived in strangers’ home and carried out many of their daily chores all alone.

Having successfully completed a full six-week summer programme at various cities across Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all 600 students including 500 males and 100 females, came back home with more than just their luggage. The was part of Abu Dhabi Education Council’s (ADEC) annual training programme for academic and personal development of Emirati students through English language, IT and leadership courses abroad.

The programme is open for students in Grades 10 and 11.

With the aim of encouraging students to excel in their studies, only students with the highest marks from all private and public schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Gharbiya and Al Ain are selected.

For 16-year old Nasser Khalaf Al Nachas, he found living in Brisbane exciting and new.

“You get to live life without people to take responsibility of you. You have to do stuff on your own. Aside from learning English, you have to learn things about life, how to manage money, how to communicate with people, to deal with problems. We’ve learned quite a lot, personally and intellectually,”Nachas said.

Abdullah Ahmed Al Hashemi, a shy 16-year-old from Al Ittihad Model School said his English-speaking ability became “much better” and he found “learning about the people from other countries and their culture” interesting. “ADEC’s Summer Abroad Program involves more than just formal education. Students receive valuable life lessons by learning to interact with people of different cultures, and learning how to be self-reliant and independent,” said Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC.

Relating about his experience at the American College of English (ACE) at Sydney, 16-year-old Mohamed Al Hosani said this experience has improved his “interpersonal skills”. He said “We were shy, we’re all from different nationalities and other cultures.”

Taking the bus to school is a new experience for Mohamed. He smiled as he recalled the curious onlookers.

“People are interested in me and they asked ‘where are you from’,” he said.

For Nasser, Abdullah and Mohamed, who were also at last year’s programme, this is an invaluable experience which has helped influenced their choice of education in pursuing theirhigher education.

Nasser who wants to study architecture wants to go to Yale, Abdullah wants to study chemical engineering in the US and Mohamed is hoping to do a chemical engineering undergraduate course in Sydney. But for incoming Grade 11 student, Tareq Al Nuaimi, who was at Sydney with Mohamed, he looks forward to joining again next year.

“I have started reading thick English novels now. I am reading Harry Potter,” he announced proudly.

“My pronunciation is getting better. I’m excited to go back to school, my English teacher will be impressed,” Tareq said. Khalid Al Hashemi, head chaperone for the students said, “The big problem was homesickness, because they don’t know anyone, we mixed them. Life outside nobody will help them, they should learn to do things alone.”

He added that they learned to deal with their situations such as getting used to a small room or learning to take the bus and finding places in the city.

For this year’s trip, the boys were divided into 50 per city with one chaperone for every 10 students.

Each male student has to stay with a host family pre-selected by a provider who also arranged for thestudents’ schools, trips, discussions and activities.

The female students, meanwhile, stayed in a camp in Ottawa, said Ahmed Al Shamsi, the programme coordinator. Other activities for the boys and girls included sight-seeing tours to the museums, opera house, zoo and local tourism sites; sports activities such as cycling, bowling, camping, soccer, roller skating and rock climbing; and introduction to the local cultureand tradition.

ADEC’s Summer Abroad Programme was sponsored through a grant by General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of ADEC.

olivia@khaleejtimes.ae



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