The Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States – also known as SACM – is one of the most important organizations there is for the next generation of students from the Kingdom. Located just outside of Washington DC in Virigina, it is a ‘home away from home’ in terms of knowledge and support for the tens of thousands of students from Saudi Arabia currently studying in the United States.
SACM states it “Implements Saudi national educational and training policies to provide our country with qualified individuals capable of achieving the country’s goals of progress and development. We strive to provide our students with the best possible educational opportunities at the best educational institutions in the U.S.A.” Under the SACM umbrella, students from the Kingdom don’t just achieve a free education in the US, but they also have access to numerous other resources, including a career development center and free legal support for Saudi students interested in registering their own patent. Many of those resources fall under some of the key pillars of Saudi Vision 2030, including volunteering.
Ghada Abdulaziz Alfayez, from Dammam, is one of those lucky students. Currently studying at California State University, in Fine Arts in Graphic Design, she has been an active volunteer through the Saudi student club on campus. During her interview with Arabia Now Ghada said, “Volunteering is very important to add so many facts and beliefs to myself. It helps to get contected to others in the community and make it a better place even, if it’s a small task that can make a real difference.”
One of the first volunteering projects was helping the homeless, Ghada recalled, “In my first year in the United States, they took us for a volunteering trip where we packed stuff for the homeless and prepared goodies bags to meet their needs. It was very inspiring and so we got to meet new friendly people in a different environment and exchanging cultures.”
Cross-cultural exchange is an important part of SACM’s goals, and one which Ghada realized quickly when people were surprised to learn she is from Saudi Araiba, “They were surprised how I came all the way from Saudi Arabia, especially nowadays when I met new people from the US they keep asking me about Saudi Vision 2030 and all the new changes.” That’s certainly good news given the upcoming arrival of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the United States.
Saudi Vision 2030 also places an emphasis on more women entering the work force, and attending sporting events. These are all changes Ghada is thrilled about, but volunteering for her is something she will never give up, “I will never stop volunteering if I get the chance. It’s not only about the impacts I can make in the lives of those less fortunate, but the role it can play in making us more tolerant individuals and giving towards the global community. I think each of us should be willing to offer our own time and expect nothing in return. But the truth is that volunteering will bring a world of rewards you might never have expected.”
Now focusing on pursing a degree in entrepreneurship, Ghada has a lovely message to share, “I just wanted to add that volunteering in foreign country for my community is precious.” That’s welcome news to all the hard working staff at SACM, and the thousands of Saudi students who are volunteering everyday.