Preece then worked with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to gain approval for IU Kokomo’s program, so students there could attend on its scholarship.
He enrolled for classes in August 2012, and immediately posted information about IU Kokomo on a Facebook page for Saudi Arabian students considering business schools in the United States.
Al Hammad said he received 100 responses to that post, and 14 people enrolled in classes because of it.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are important in the international community, Parkison said.
If students have a good experience, they will recommend IU Kokomo to their peers abroad.
And Al Hammad is certainly enjoying his time in Kokomo.
“The faculty are really friendly and helpful, and so are my classmates,” he said. “I feel like I’ve become part of the community. I’m really happy to be here.”
He and his peers are learning to live like Americans, including eating the food. Burgers and pizza are their favorites, they said.
They’ve learned that Americans prefer debit cards to cash, something that surprised them.
Al Hammad said he hopes to teach his American classmates a few things along the way, too.
“Many Americans think of the Middle East and believe we still have camels and tents,” he said. “I hope we are building a bridge between us now, and we can make stereotypes vanish, hopefully forever.”
That kind of cultural exchange is invaluable for students, Preece said.
“Diversity plays an important role in education,” she said. “Having students here from other parts of the world brings many new perspectives into the classroom and campus.”
Al Hammad anticipates more Saudi Arabian students will come to IU Kokomo for graduate and undergraduate programs now that an initial group has enrolled.
Parkison said that’s good news for the university. IU Kokomo will begin to target other countries eventually.