UI hosts five Iraqi students - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI hosts five Iraqi students

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - As U.S. military combat operations come to a close in Iraq, a new chapter for Iraqi civilians has begun.

Five Iraqi students are seeking their graduate degree at the University of Iowa this year. It's part of a scholarship program initiated by the Iraqi government, which will pay for the education of thousands of its students in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

The Iraqi government is paying for each student's living and tuition expenses, at about $50,000 per student. Their goal is to send 10,000 students to the U.S. and U.K. for their degrees over a five-year period.

Diar Ibrahim and Mohanad Hameed Nada are busy taking a course of intensive English, their first step toward earning their graduate degrees at the University of Iowa.

"Maybe in the future, if I complete my goal here at the university, maybe a professor for teaching medical students in our country," Nada said, explaining his desire to teach. Nada's goal of becoming an educator is in line with his government's hope that this program will help rebuild more than just the brick and mortar destroyed by years of conflict in Iraq.

"This is also designed to bring in the educators, the teachers, the civil servants, the scientists they need, to rebuild the social and economic side of the country," said Scott King, Assistant Dean of International Programs. King told us the university is hosting five Iraqi students this year, out of the 80 spread across other schools around the nation and the U.K.

Ibrahim and Nada have only been on campus a few weeks, and they say they're still adjusting to the different lifestyle.

"There's a culture shock from everything," Ibrahim said. "The foods, how to get to sleep, how to get apartments to stay."

But they're grateful for the opportunity to gain the skills they'll need, for when they return home. Ibrahim wants to study the science of petroleum geology, which can be of great value in his country.

"Iraq's one of the great countries from oil and gas discoveries, that's what I am focused on," Ibrahim explained.

King says the Iraqi government requires its students to return home after they receive their degrees.

"I think the challenges they're going to have, of course, in three or four years, is finding the jobs for them," King said, adding that the program is not a quick fix for the problems in Iraq, but that "it's certainly something that, in the long run, could change the nation drastically."

Online Reporter: Brady Smith

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