There’s only one month during the year that the on-campus Halal restaurant is not open. From May 5 to June 3 this year, many Muslim students fasted in observing Ramadan, one of the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar. Kareem Khaleel, a student from the Department of Mechanical Aerospace & Engineering shared in an interview that throughout those days he did not drink even a single cup of tea.
When a friend offered him a bottle of water after an intense two-hour physical education class, he still resisted even though parched with thirst. When his friend asked how he could follow a religion that demands such intense austerity, Karim quipped, “Haven’t you heard of the hot dieting trend of intermittent fasting?”
This was not the first time that Kareem received questions about his religion. He remembers times when people would avert their eyes when he introduced himself as a Muslim. Though he was a government-invited student, having been accepted to SNU with 200-to-1 odds, Kareem’s peers would tease him about his rudimentary Korean abilities early in his SNU career.
Things started to look up for Kareem when he took a class called Creative Engineering Design. While the first two months of the class were spent studying theory, the remainder of the semester was dedicated to designing and building actual robots. Although Kareem had attended the best engineering school in Egypt for over two years prior to SNU, the lack of funding at his previous institution relegated his experiences in engineering to theory rather than practical applications. Though his team’s robot had some difficulties on the day of the final assessment, Kareem’s efforts in the class earned him an A.
Although Kareem spent a year in Busan to study Korean, at first he could only read and write at the elementary level. Now, however, Kareem can write full reports in Korean. He attributes a great deal of this improvement to Professor Ahn Soon-tae, his Korean writing instructor who helped him reach his academic potential.
Kareem’s dream is to become a robotics engineer who develops technology for the disabled. He is considering a master’s degree at SNU, and will apply as an undergraduate lab intern next semester. “I want to use the gift that God has given me to help others,” he says. “Even the Quran tells us that the meaning of life is to find happiness through helping others.”
Written by Yu Young Jin, SNU English Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Professor Travis Lamar Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, email@example.com