Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Recruiting for MBAs in the Middle East
I am home from recruiting MBA students in Dubai and Cairo.
Cairo is one of the greatest cities I have ever visited; the architecture, street life, and, oh yes, the antiquities are beyond compare. The people there were exceptionally hospitable, and the streets are safe, if heavily littered. I bought some cool if corny papyrus paintings; the Nefertiti will hang in honor next to my velvet Elvis.
I met great potential students in both Dubai and Cairo, and would love to bring at least a half-dozen from each place to George Washington. The sticking point, in their minds, was getting a student visa. The perception was that getting student visas to the US is too much of a hassle; as a friend of mine at National University of Singapore said to me, the difficulty in getting visas to the US has made recruiting at NUS much easier. Don't get me wrong, NUS is terrific (I have very much enjoyed my two visits there), but I would rather students come here.
My reasons for this are not entirely altruistic. I think having college and graduate students coming to the United States is extremely important to our image in the World. While people in Egypt complained bitterly about US Middle-East foreign policy, they nevertheless wanted to come to America. In the 17 years I have been teaching (has it been that long?), I have seen generation upon generation of international students transformed by their experience in America--and transformed for the better. Once students are here for a few years, they often appreciate America's openness, and generosity, and they embrace American ideals. They can't help but feel better about America's place in the world, even as they continue to oppose US foreign policy. In some small way, this must leave us safer.
A State Department Official in Cairo told me he get could get visas for students accepted at US universities in 3 days. If this is really true, I am optimistic about increasing the flow of students from Morocco to Jordan to Oman into the United States. This would benefit us all.
On my eight day trip, I took one morning off. This is what I saw:
I would say that if you get a chance to see one wonder in your life, this should be it. Astonishing.