One of the most exciting aspects of working with international students is the opportunity for cultural exchange. This month, we sat down with one of our most beloved students, Rawan Alkhalil, to chat with her about visual art, sisterhood, and balancing academics with a busy and bustling social life.
Rawan Alkhalil: I just like to draw with a pencil, when I’m dealing with a lot of stress. I like to draw faces, more than nature or something like that. I don’t show my work to just anybody. It has to be someone special. Even my mother, I’ve probably shown her one of my drawings. My sisters see it anyway because they’re so…nosy! *laughs* So they’ll come when I’m not in my room and see what I’ve been up to.
RA: Yeah, we are. More than, I think, American families. Cause even when we grow up, we live together until we get married, and it’s not like…I have close friends. But I can say anything to my sisters. And I’m the middle one, so I’m close with all of them.
RA: We are six. And two brothers.
RA: Well, um, Saudi culture, I think, is more, like, …well…not all families are the same, of course. Some families are so strict! But in my family, we always have to convince my mother and my father why we want to do something. For example, when I wanted to come to Boston, my mother was against that. She didn’t want me to leave because she thought that if I left I’d never come back. I think my parents are a little more protective of me than my other sisters because I’m so quiet. I don’t like it sometimes because it’s too much! But when I came here, I became more independent. It’s like now that I’ve come here, they think I’m more mature. Especially my father. He thinks I am a…big girl! *laughs* And I do love it here, but of course I want to go home, maybe continue my studies in Saudi Arabia, maybe get a masters here.
RA: Never leave home without cash! One time, the first week I was in Boston, I got lost. By mistake, I went to Watertown, and my phone was dead and my sister was freaking out. And I didn’t know I was out of town. I didn’t know! I just knew when I got back to the apartment and my sister was yelling at me and it was late at night. So, ah, yeah. After that, I will never go out without my charger and some cash. And I was so hungry! But I wasn’t scared at all. It was an adventure!
RA: I think I’m really…I could take care of myself, even before I came to Boston. I’m the responsible one. I take care of my younger sisters. But sometimes my parents get scared. I don’t think I’ve changed, but I think my parents think of me as older now.
RA: I will miss all of you guys because you’re really nice to me! You’re like a family. So I think I will miss that a lot. Since I came to Boston, this is my first time thinking that I have another family than my sisters. So yeah, I will miss you.
Rawan, we will miss you too! It was so nice to speak with you and learn a little about your personal life and family back home. Best of luck in your future, don’t forget about us, and never stop drawing.