Fadi Althoey is a well-spoken, 24-year-old graduate student from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, studying for his master’s in civil engineering at the University of Dayton.
Like many students who are studying at UD from abroad, Althoey found the process of immigrating from one country to another to be very stressful.
“For the first month I was here I almost felt helpless,” Althoey said. “I just couldn’t do anything myself. Eventually it got better just by going out of my way and talking to people.”
Althoey is one of many students who feel that way, and as a response to this, UD campus ministry has decided to host an immigration plunge on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We decided to do the immigration plunge this year because of everything happening around the world, specifically Latin America,” plunge director Lauren Farrell said. “We felt compelled to do this because of the bishops emphasis on immigration reform and because this issue is one that’s going to continue to be relevant in our lives.”
Because UD is a comfortable environment for students, the amount of international students at UD is likely a number that will keep rising.
“A lot of us [international students] come to UD because it’s a perfect university for us,” 24-year-old graduate student Feras Alsaid said. “The cost of living is low compared to other places and the engineering school is great.”
Alsaid, who is from Amman, Jordan, is studying for his master’s in engineering management here at UD. He is one of many international students that have found UD through the Internet.
“After I did my undergrad in Jordan, I started searching for the best schools to do my graduate studies at,” Alsaid said. “Dayton consistently kept showing up in the rankings, and I decided to visit and liked it.”
Althoey said he had a similar experience.
“I ended deciding to come here after I saw the engineering school, and after I saw how accommodating the university could be,” Althoey said. “My wife, who lives in Saudi Arabia, just got into the program as well which is exciting.”
Every year more than 1 million people immigrate into the United States, some are here on temporary visas, some are illegal and some are full fledged citizens of the United States according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
According to the 2011-2012 Common Data Set Initiative, a report published yearly by the university and used by national publications to rank colleges, UD had 278 international students for that school year, up from 194 the year prior.
The goal of the plunge is to give American students at UD a perspective of what life is like for those students who are here from other countries, according to Farrell who said she became interested in social issues such as this after she lived in Honduras for two years.
The plunge will feature the film “Dying to Live” written and directed by brothers Bill and Daniel Groody. “Dying to Live” is a documentary film that takes a look at the role of the immigrant in the United States through interviews done with theologians, congressional leaders and immigrants themselves.
Daniel Groody is a Holy Cross priest who teaches Latino studies at the University of Notre Dame, and Bill Groody is a former White House correspondent for NBC, according to the film’s website.
After the film is over on the 22nd, the group will be taken to the Annual Hispanic Heritage festival downtown for authentic Hispanic food and culture.
“I think it’s cool that the university does stuff like this,” Alsaid said. “America is different, definitely… but I like it.”
Tickets are $15 for the day, for more information visit the campus ministry website at udayton.edu/ministry.