International student spotlight: Fady Al-Banna
Fady Al-Banna is the director of international affairs for Wright State’s Student Government. He is also an Iraqi refugee.
In 2007, Al-Banna’s family fled from Iraq to Lebanon as political tensions rose in his country. In 2010, his family was granted political asylum and relocated to Dayton, OH.
“A radical group attempted to kidnap my father, and many minority religious groups started to face persecution for their beliefs,” Al-Banna said.
It was then they decided to leave the country.
“I was sixteen years old when I left my country,” Al-Banna said. “I remember one thing as I was leaving, I never was going to see my country again.”
He was left to finish high school in Lebanon where the materials and subjects at his new school were strictly in English.
“It was challenging for me to transfer all the math formulas from Arabic to English,” Al-Banna said. “They taught us English in my country. They taught us grammar, and they start to teach us the alphabet when we are in grade 3 or 4. But they didn’t teach us how to speak English!”
On his arrival to the United States, Al-Banna admitted that Ohio was not his first choice. Because his family arrived on a political asylum visa, the United States embassy directed the family to a specific state.
In this case it was Ohio, though Al-Banna said he would have preferred Arizona or Michigan to be with extended family.
“I love Dayton. It’s a small city,” Al-Banna said. “It’s very diverse, and that is what I like about it.”
Al-Banna has not always gone to WSU. He spent his first two years earning his associates in business at Sinclair Community College to save money. He is now in his second year at WSU, and is near graduation.
After serving as the president of the international club at Sinclair, Al-Banna said he wanted to get involved with the international community at WSU.
“I wanted to make a different in the student’s lives. I wanted to take their concerns and solve them,” Al-Banna said. “I’m so thankful I saw this job with the student government.”
He is the now the director of international affairs with the Student Government and can be seen all over campus—and Facebook.
“It is a blessing to interact with international students everyday. You listen for their struggles and their stories and their stories are so inspiring to me,” Al-Banna said.
There are many ways for international students to integrate into American culture. Whether it is joining a club, a sports team, or a study group, all international students have a chance to meet and make American friends.
“What’s your passion? What’s your major? If you’re a finance major, go get involved in the finance club!” Al-Banna urged. “Get involved with a religious club if you are interested in learning about different religions other than yours, or go to the culture hour at ICE.”
Al-Banna said he wanted to see international students establish meaningful relationships while in the U.S.
“We don’t want them (international students) to go back home and say, ‘I have been living there for 5 years, and I didn’t make any friendships with anyone.’” Al-Banna said. “It is important we give them a good image of American society.”