Growing up as a young man in Kuwait, I have always admired the great level of technological advancement evident in the region that pride as a source of tourist attraction. From the magnificent sky-scrapers, top of the notch transport and communication systems, and huge modern oil wells, Kuwait, certainly has benefited from scientific developments. Since childhood, I developed a passion for screens which was further ignited by a having a father who worked on a TV show. At 19 years old, getting an opportunity to study electrical engineering in the U.S. is thus the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I can never forget the day when I got the scholarship letter, I was out with my father at his workplace watching how all the magic unfolds from behind the scenes. I had visited the place several times before, I often enjoyed the experience of seeing how it all works and once in a while, father would allow me to fix minor communication hitches during prep time. I even got the chance to sit on the presenter’s seat and test how it felt to talk to people through a screen. The letter had been addressed to my father as I had used his office address. When I first read the letter, I was overtaken by joy, I had just received an invitation to attend one of the best colleges in America and the best part was that my parents would not have to worry about the fees. My father was beyond himself as well, even his colleagues seemed amused and happy for me.
The whole family was overwhelmed by the news, we had a small celebration, mother, known for taking things a little too far, organized a small dinner for close family and friends. One would think I had just graduated or landed a huge role in Google. I would not sleep that night, I had always envisioned myself an engineer wearing a yellow cap holding a tool box that contains a number of working materials including pliers, wrench, jack, jumper cable, sprit level, and of course a flashlight. That night, I imagined myself in an actual office working on some project. I have arranged those small things in my mind so many times that I often laugh to myself whenever the thought crosses my mind. Well now I no longer had to visualize it, it was all a reality and with more hard work, my dream was beginning to turn true. The letter marked the beginning of my education journey made up of thousand miles.
Going to study electrical engineering was not just my dream but the entire family’s. With six brothers and one sister, my father had struggled to provide for us and make sure we all gained good education for a better future. He believed that while he may not offer us much material things as other rich parents did, he prided in educating his kids the best way he could. The weight was however at times too much considering he had eight children. The scholarship was a blessing in disguise as it meant he had one child less to worry about. You can imagine his joy when he saw that scholarship letter. Being among the first children in the family, I also had the duty of setting a good example for my siblings.
I had been raised up with a strict Islam foundation that believed in conducting ourselves as per teachings of the Quran which one of them included obeying parents and following their instructions. My sister was especially excited as she would have an excuse of getting away from the praying eyes of our parents and visit me in America. My teachers from high school would not have been prouder, especially the class teacher who thought I had something special and would have a bright future if I put in more effort. I had not always been a good performer in school, considering I spent most of my time in extracurricular activities than I did class. I was very good in soccer and even played for our school team in Kuwait. Before I had difficulties balancing between school work and soccer, but with much help and guidance from teacher, my grades started improving while my skills in the field remained good.
Studying in the U.S. has been an exciting experience as I have made new friends and been able to have a taste of a new culture that is particularly different from that one back home. Being a more westernized and culturally open-minded society, I often find myself amazed at how things work in the country. The journey has however not been all smooth, there has been some ups and downs including an accident that left me severely wounded. We were driving back home in a friend’s car when we got in a hit and run with another vehicle. Both of my legs and the left arm were damaged. The recovery period was quite difficult for me, I had to stay in bed for two weeks with a nurse at my side which meant I was missing classes. My parents also had to incur the cost of hiring a private nurse which I felt really guilty for.
After the two weeks, I could move around but could not sit for long hours in class had difficulties concentrating through all the lecturers. As a new student, I did not like to be missing class while others were studying plus I would had a lot of catching up to do once I was fully recovered. Despite the setback, I have been able to get back to my feet and catching up with the missed classes thanks to the understanding professors and putting in some extra hours in schoolwork in the evenings. Electrical engineering for me is not just a course but an opportunity for me to make a difference in the world. Having come from a country where most of our people are not learned, the scholarship is a chance for me to make a difference and positive contribution to the Kuwaitis society.
My higher education journey in America that began with a single letter of scholarship has been interesting so far with more anticipated to come. With the few skills I had acquired from high school and dad’s workplace and a determined mind, I am positive that every step taken through the journey of a thousand miles will be worthwhile.