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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

John Madden

Third Advisor

Maria Mikolchak

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Identity, Saudi, Male, Change, Culture, Transformation


The number of Saudi Arabian international students who pursue higher education in the United States has steadily risen over the past decade. Relatively little research has been devoted to investigating how the experience of studying at an institution of higher education in the United States impacts the Saudi Arabian identity. It is an area of significance given the interconnected nature of language acquisition, identity, and culture, and the differences between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The aim of this small-scale qualitative study was to explore how the experience of studying in the United States impacts Saudi male identity. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducted with seven Saudi Arabian male students at a Midwestern university about their experiences studying in the United States, their feelings and perceptions of those experiences, and how they feel it has ultimately impacted their individual identities, as well as the collective Saudi male identity. Nine major themes relating to identity were identified in analysis of the interviews, seven of which related to transformation in the Saudi male identity: independence/self reliance, academics, open-mindedness/tolerance, experiencing discrimination and stereotypes based on perceptions of their identity, interactions with females as peers/classmates and teachers, and evolving perspectives on aspects of Saudi Arabian society culture and society.


All praise and thanks to God. I express gratitude to my advisor, Dr. James Robinson, who has been instrumental in my enrollment in and completion of this program. I appreciate his sincerity, his insights and guidance throughout this process, and his commitment to making the world a more understanding place through his efforts with the TESL program at St. Cloud State University. I also extend thanks to my other committee members, Dr. John Madden and Maria Mikolchak, for being a part of my committee, and for your insights and contributions to my research throughout this entire process. I thank every TESL faculty member at St. Cloud State with whom I had the pleasure of taking a course.

I am grateful to each of the participants in my research, who made themselves available to me amidst numerous other responsibilities, and patiently sat through the interview process, opening themselves up and sharing their experiences, positive and negative, with me, in a second language. Without them, this research would not have been possible.

Thank you to my mother and father, who raised me to be who I am, who instilled in me a passion for learning at a young age, and helped to give me the foundation that makes such a vast undertaking as this paper possible.

I thank my wife, Noha, who took the steps of this journey with me, who provided moral support throughout, and endured two Minnesota winters. And to my son, Musa, a beautiful addition to our family, who came to us as I undertook this project, serving as a vast source of inspiration for me.

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