By Fatima Charara
Unis Middle School
Due to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Arab-American population has undergone much scrutiny because of the horrible stereotypes that have become common in today’s society. That’s why Unis Middle School science teacher Shane Shockey and many others want Arab-American students to work their hardest to be admitted into a college, university or trade school located out-of-state. Supporters of this idea argue that Arab-American students who train out-of-state can help change attitudes towards their community.
But it’s still rare for Dearborn’s Arab-American students to go to college outside of Michigan, according to Fordson high school counselor Melinda Dakhlallah. Last year, 16% of Fordson high school students received scholarships, Dakhlallah said. Of those, 0.01% of the scholarships received were for colleges out of state.
Shockey and others view this lack of interest in schooling far from home as a missed opportunity.
“When I go out of town and tell people that I’m from the Dearborn Public Schools District, unfortunately their reactions are pretty ignorant,” Shockey said. Some people that have total ignorance towards Arab Americans and have called us “towel heads,” Shockey explained.
He believes that not only does every student have the opportunity to change the world, but specifically Arab-American students have a greater opportunity to make their mark on the world because of the harder obstacle they need to overcome. Along with earning degrees that could help make a difference, Arab-American students have a chance to show the true, respected, honorable colors of the Arab-American culture.
There are many scholarships that currently help students who are unable to afford the high costs of living out of state. These scholarships help to ensure that all students are given the same opportunities to advance their lives towards their future goals.
This county was founded on people moving here in hopes of a better future. Shockey believes that his Arab-American students can have fun and do good by building on that tradition. “It is very interesting to travel and tell people about where we live. It’s also a great experience and it is very eye-opening,” he said.
Shockey also believes that if his Arab-American students travel outside of their comfort zone, they will find that their experiences in the Dearborn school district is similar in many ways to the experience of students in other districts that don’t have many Arab Americans. “I don’t think we’re very different,” Shockey said. “We all have different requirements and every school district has things that could be improved.”
Shockey added that he’s happy working in the Dearborn district. “I’ve made Dearborn my home and I would not want to work at any other school district — except for maybe a tropical location.”
Hamzeh Hider is one Dearborn Arab American who agrees with Shockey’s advice. Hider is now studying at the University of Toledo, Ohio. “I was dedicated in my schooling and I applied my full potential to be accepted into a school where I could reach my goals,” Hider said. Hider’s family was OK with him leaving home. “They were very excited about me being accepted into a very well known university and they were very supportive,” he said.
Hider believes that when Dearborn’s Arab Americans go to colleges outside of Michigan, that’s a great way to show people what our community and Arab-Americans are really all about. “I did the best I could to represent my family and my culture to the highest of my abilities,” he said. Hider advises younger students to go to a college and receive their educational degree at the best school that will admit them. “My advice to all students of every nationality is that they should work hard and dedicate themselves to pursuing their life-long goals,” he said.
Any student, of any nationality, has the power to change people’s perspectives and pursue their goals by just working their hardest to get scholarships to any colleges out of their state, or even just out of their community.