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Final Draft

Communication Forms Among SACM members

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission Program

(SACM). Its history, its main goal, and the different forms of communication used among its

members to achieve this goal. Information is provided on SACM program that makes it possible

for Saudi students to study abroad. This paper mainly deals with the different forms of

communication used among SACM members which are based on interviewing different

members and some information gained from a secondary research.

Introduction

I. SACM is a Discourse Community

A discourse community is a group of people who share a basic set of goals and ways of

communicating about those goals. Linguist John Swales defined discourse communities as

"groups that have goals or purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals." (Swales,

2016). SACM is known as a scholarship program for Saudi students to the U.S. It has a specific

goal which is providing Saudi students with the help they need in order for them to complete

their higher educational studies. Because SACM has over 100000 members in the U.S., it uses

different forms of communication to maintain connections with its members and that what makes

SACM a discourse community.

II. The History of SACM


The Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission has been sponsoring Saudi students to study abroad

in different countries since 1932. Although SACM provides its members with a great number of

countries to study in, most SACM members prefer to study in the United States, Canada, and

Japan. In the article History it is stated that The Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) to

the United States is one of the specialized agencies created by the Saudi government in 1951 to

administer programs and policies to meet the educational and cultural needs of Saudis studying

in the United States. (Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission to the U.S., 2012). SACM allows Saudi

students who want to get their undergraduate/graduate degrees from the top universities in the

world to do so. It has been going under modification in its organizational structure and continues

to accept more members every year. After the 9/11 incident, Saudi students were facing a lot of

discrimination, so most of them decided to leave the United States. In 2005, the number of

SACM members in the United States was less than 5000 members. During that time, former

Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz made and agreement with former president George Bush to

boost educational programs between the two countries. (Taylor & Albasri, 2014). Nowadays,

the United States has more than 100000 members of SACM.

III. SACMs Main Goal

The number of SACM members in the United States has increased dramatically during

the past decade. This fast growth was because of the educational agreement which was brokered

between former U.S. president George Bush and former Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz.

The agreement provided Saudi students with a great opportunity to complete their

undergraduate/graduate studies in the United States. It opened the doors for Saudi students to get

their higher educational degrees from different educational institutes in the United States while
being treated equally as other international students. Because of this and the efficient and reliable

support and services SACM provides for its members, more students choose to study in the U.S.

and their number has reached more than 100000 students. SACM 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. (Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission to

the U.S., 2012). It strives to provide its members with the best possible educational opportunities

at the top educational institutes in the world. It also supports its members academically and

financially to achieve its goals.

IV. Communication Among SACM Members

In the article The Impact of Saudi Arabia King Abdullahs Scholarship Program in the

U.S. Taylor and Albasri state that The central focus of SACM is to give its members the

knowledge and skills that they need to become successful, not only for themselves but for the

benefit of their country. (Taylor & Albasri, 2014) Communication among SACM members

plays a huge role in achieving its goal. Prior to 2005, the U.S. had less than 5000 members of

SACM. It was much easier for SACM to communicate with its members during that time

because the number of their members was nothing compared to the one it has nowadays. It was

estimated that SACM has more than 100000 members studying in the U.S. With this huge

number, it made it difficult for SACM to maintain its connections with its members. For this

reason, SACM developed different methods it can use to keep in touch with its members. One of

these methods is having academic advisors for its members in each university in the U.S.

Members of SACM can communicate with their own advisors to share any difficulties they have

in order for SACM to help them and provide them with the most possible services so that they
can concentrate on achieving their academic goals. Another form of communication SACM

provides and the most preferred by SACM members is the different engagement events and

convocations SACM organizes for its members. In these events, SACM would gather a great

number of its members and faculty in one place. Members of SACM travel to one of the U.S.

states where the event is held. During these events, SACM members can meet their friends or

members of their families who study in other universities in the U.S. These events maximize

SACM members to interact with faculty and to learn more about the program and the different

types of researches SACM provides for its members.

Methods

I. Analysis of Two Forms of Communication Used Among SACM Members

For my primary research, I interviewed two of SACM members who study in the

University of California Davis and the SACM advisor who is responsible for these two members

and other members who also go to UC Davis. The two members were very fortunate with their

decisions of being SACM members. Before coming to the U.S., they were dreaming of

completing their undergraduate studies in the U.S. They joined SACM for this reason and they

think that they were fortunate enough to join this community. The two members are Mohammed

Al-Sindi and Bayan Mashat. They believe that the two most effective forms of communication

used among SACM members are the different events SACM organizes for its members and

having an academic advisor who they can reach to whenever they need some assistant with any

difficulties they face.

The first member I interviewed was Mohammed Al-Sindi who is a first year student and

majoring in Chemical Engineering. Mohammed stated that the main reason he chose to join
SACM was the financial aid SACM provides for its members. He came to the U.S. in 2015 and

had to pay for school from his own money which caused him some financial issues. After

Mohammed has joined SACM, he found that the community is very helpful. SACM provided

him with everything he needed so that he can concentrate on his studies. He now believes that

SACM is more than just having someone who would pay for school tuition.

The second member I interviewed is Bayan Mashat who is a Junior student and majoring

in Computer Science. Bayan is known to be the oldest member of SACM studying in Davis. She

believes that SACM opened the doors for Saudi girls to explore the world and express

themselves. Bayan argues that SACM gave Saudi women equal rights as Saudi men which

helped her and other female SACM members show their capabilities. She thinks that the

different events SACM organizes helped her find other Computer Scientists who love

programming and specially writing programs for computer games. From these events, she was

able to communicate with different programmers which helped her gain the knowledge that

made her the vice president of UC Davis Game Development and Art Club.

The third person I interviewed was Mr. Waleed Abdul-Hadi who works as my academic

advisor in SACM. Mr. Abdul-Hadi has been a SACM faculty member for more than five years.

He has been working with different SACM members all around the U.S. He was recently

assigned to work as an academic advisor for SACM members who study in UC Davis. Mr.

Abdul-Hadi believes that SACM gave him the opportunity to get to know the top students in

Saudi Arabia. He thinks that SACM members are the future leaders of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Abdul-

Hadi states that One of the great things about working for SACM is that as an academic advisor,

I get to work with SACM members from different schools all over the U.S. Every now and then,
I get reassigned to work with different students in a different school. (personal communication,

May 3, 2017).

Results and Discussion

I. The Two Main Forms of Communication Among SACM Members

Based on my research, the main two genres of communication used among SACM members are

SACM events and SACM advising team. As I mentioned earlier, SACM has over 100000

members in the U.S. It tries to help all its members with the knowledge and skills they need in

order for them to complete their higher educational studies.

II. SACM Events

By organizing the different events, SACM members have the opportunity to learn more about the

program and the types of researches it provides for its members. They can also gain more

knowledge in their fields of study by meeting other SACM members who share the same

interests. Each year, SACM organizes different events which can be educational events and non-

educational events. During the educational events, SACM members are provided with

researches, internships, and jobs opportunities. For instance, at the end of each year, SACM

organizes an event for its members who have completed their higher educational studies where

they can gain some knowledge about the different job opportunities in Saudi Arabia. On the

other hand, the non-educational events enable SACM members to enjoy their time with their

friends and family members. For example, every year SACM organizes a huge gathering for all

SACM members to celebrate Eid which is a holiday for Muslims. These events are very helpful

for SACM members. As Bayan states Without SACM, I would never reach where I am at
today. The events I attended helped me meet great people who are now like family to me.

(personal communication, May 1, 2017).

III. SACM Advising Team

The second form of communication used is assigning an academic advisor for SACM

members in every university in the U.S. Because SACM members are Saudis who are considered

as international students, they might face some difficulties understanding the educational system

the United States has because it differs from the one in Saudi Arabia. Having an academic

advisor for SACM members to communicate with and can assist them with the help they need

can ensure that SACM members have to worry only about their studies and that they do not have

to worry about anything else. SACM advisors do not only work with SACM members to solve

their academic issues, but also their mental and emotional health. For example, it is common for

a SACM member to feel homesick, in this situation, the member must communicate with his/her

advisor to find the best way possible for him/her to go through this emotional issue. As my first

interviewee Mohammed states SACM is the perfect community where one can meet other

students who share the same background and the same goal. (personal communication, April

30, 2017) He argues that having an academic advisor, which SACM provides, helped him a lot.

The advisor helped him with his academic plan, financial issues, and his residence in Davis. He

tries to keep in touch with his academic advisor by scheduling a weekly call which helps him

discuss both the improvements he is making and the difficulties he is having.

Conclusion

Although SACM has over 100000 members in the United States, it tries to give its

members the knowledge and skills that they need to become successful by organizing different
events and assigning academic advisors for its members in every university in the U.S. SACM is

willing to provide its members with the help they need in order for them to complete their higher

educational studies. Thus, members of SACM will be capable of achieving the country's goals of

progress and development after they graduate.

References

Swales, J. (2016, March 01). Reflections on the concept of discourse community. Retrieved May

26, 2017, from https://asp.revues.org/4774?lang=en


Taylor, C., & Albasri, W. (2014, September 24). The Impact of Saudi Arabia King Abdullahs

Scholarship Program in the U.S. School of Education Doctoral Program, Edgewood College,

Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jss.2014.210013

(2012) Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission to the U.S., Poster of SACM Scholarship, Retrieved from

http://www.sacm.org/ArabicSACM/pdf/Posters_Sacm_schlorship.pdf

(2012) Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission to the U.S. History, Retrieved

fromhttp://www.sacm.org/AboutSACM/History.aspx

(2012) Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission to the U.S. Mission, Retrieved

fromhttp://www.sacm.org/AboutSACM/Mission.aspx