He grew up watching cowboy movies and listening to Michael Jackson songs, yet he is from a country located thousands of miles away from here. Naif Saeed was born in Saudi Arabia, and as many other citizens of his country, he chose to study in the United States to be exposed to the American culture he loved so much.
A finance major, one of his many goals since arriving in Miami has been to share with Americans the values of his homeland —values like honor, honesty and respect.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the United States has historically been the top destination for international students due to its excellence in higher education, popular culture and labor market.
Today, it remains the country of choice for the largest number of international students, welcoming about 1.1 million in 2017. Barry was, in fact, rated the No.6 college campus for diversity according to the Office of Institutional Research.
Most of them come to Barry from Saudi Arabia, Spain, Bahamas, Venezuela and Brazil, reported the Office of Multicultural Involvement.
¨The most valuable thing I learned here is perseverance and to never ignore or overestimate a small idea, because sooner or later, it can come true," said Saeed, who hopes to one day build his own business empire to benefit youth.
Thinking of big business, international education is the fifth-largest service of export, according to Allan Goodman with the U.S. department of commerce. These students contribute more than $30 billion a year to the U.S. economy.
Ander Urkidi was only a child in the city of Bilbao, Spain when he listened to his grandfather tell stories about living in Miami. At that age, he never imagined that his future awaited him in the sunshine metropolis.
Urkidi is the oldest of three siblings and, as a good Spanish native, he was playing with a soccer ball even before walking. Urkidi´s childhood dream was to play for the national team one day - a dream that he woke up from in his adolescence. Spain limited Urkidi´s professional options, so he chose collegiate studies instead.
¨In Miami, I had the attractive opportunity to combine my passion for soccer with an upper level education as well as receive the economic support of a scholarship,” said Urkidi, who has played as a striker for Barry men’s soccer since he arrived in 2016.
He \made international business his major - just like his grandfather. As many foreign students do, he struggled with the language. He argues that, in Spain, there is not enough emphasis placed on acquiring a high level of English competency.
¨In Miami, you have the advantage to feel more at home with those who speak the same language as you. But, you also have the benefit and responsibility to improve your skills with local speakers," said Urkidi.
Micaela Cordone also started her journey at Barry in 2016. She felt mixed emotions while looking out of the airplane window, leaving her home of Uruguay behind.
She was born and raised in Punta del Este, a small city in the Charrúa land of Uruguay and from an early age, her parents infused values in her that would make her stand out later in life.
After finishing high school with outstanding grades, Cordone moved to the capital of her country, Monte Video. Uruguay’s most respectable universities are located only in the capital, so she had to move there to further her education. She started at the best college of the country, yet she felt like a fish out of water.
It was then that the Uruguayan decided to follow her instinct. She started at Barry with a bag full of dreams and a head full of aspirations.
“American schools have more learning resources,” she said. “You have the freedom to choose electives and be more creative doing your schedule. In Uruguay, we do not have that luxury, sadly we have less options that end up limiting our potential.”
At Barry, there were – however - many obstacles such as language differences, cultural disparities and employment.
¨When companies know you are from abroad, they assume you are not going to stay because of the visa conditions. On the other hand, doing internships is helpful,” she said. “Performance is the best guarantee we have for future job opportunities."
Still, she worked to overcome these barriers. Today, as a junior studying international business, she has made the dean´s list and has internship proposals for next semester.
“As an international student, I have an enormous amount of commitment and responsibility to succeed. Because I recall all the effort and strength my parents and I have done to put me in the position where I am today. To me, success is the best way to show them appreciation,¨ said Cordone.