By Habib Shaikh
29 September 2007
JEDDAH – A group of 25 teachers from the United States is to visit Saudi Arabia from November 21 to December 3 as part of the Educators in Saudi Arabia programme. The trip is sponsored by Saudi Aramco, and is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
The visiting group of teachers will meet area experts in education, industry, history and culture, and global relations in the Kingdom. They also will tour schools, cultural and historical sites and industrial facilities in Dhahran, Riyadh and Jeddah.
“American middle school students have many questions about the Middle East,” Terry Christiansen, a West Branch Middle School teacher, in Iowa City, who is part of the group, said in information made available to Khaleej Times here. “I hope to answer some of those questions after returns from Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Christiansen, who teaches a seventh-grade social science review and an eighth-grade American history course, said he always is challenging his students. He said he first learned of the programme from West Branch Middle School principal Sara Oswald, who had e-mailed the staff about the Institute. He decided to apply for the programme “to live what you teach.” “I thought, what better way to challenge myself (than to go to Saudi Arabia),” said Christiansen, the first Iowan to be selected for the programme.
He said he hopes to relate a different perspective of Saudi Arabia than one of oil and extremism. He hopes to understand better the people’s devotion to Islam and the country’s work to balance traditions with the present.
“It should help us appreciate the perspective of Saudi Arabia. I hope I can eliminate some of the poor perception we as Americans have. I want to demystify some of the perceptions we have,” he added.