University is a magical time for many, and throughout your undergrad phase, your attitude may vary. Some people have a “get ‘er done” attitude about the 4-5 years it takes to graduate, whereas others embrace the whole experience, turning their educational institution into a second home, and indulging in all that university life has to offer. It has been said time and time again, that AUK (The American University of Kuwait) is the very facility that embodies all the best days of university life, and it’s even more evident when alumni return as faculty members.
Meet Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Farhan, AUK’s very first alumnus professor for two classes: Reading in Arabic Heritage and Survey of Arab-Islamic Civilization. Dr. Al-Farhan, who graduated from AUK’s Class of 2011, is the very example of a student who made the most of his time at the university, exploring everything and digging in deep to what the school had to offer. “I was initially supposed to go to Kuwait University,” he says thoughtfully, “and my father, whose undergraduate and graduate experiences were in the States, kept encouraging me to study abroad like he did. I thought the perfect middle ground between the two would be a Liberal Arts school like AUK.”
As we sit and chat, Dr. Al-Farhan’s eyes light up as he reminisces on the valuable memories achieved throughout his four years of attendance. “I was involved in everything!” He says, listing the organizations and initiatives he took part in. “I was in student government [as a PR representative], I was active in many clubs, I founded the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Club in 2009, a student club involving raising awareness of the Kuwaiti constitution, holding talks related to Kuwait politics, and celebrating National and Liberation Day. I also went to Dartmouth College.” What happened in Dartmouth College? AUK and the prestigious Ivy League Dartmouth College’s Memorandum of Understanding gives students on both ends of the pond the opportunity to take part in a summer exchange program. “Back in 2010, I taught Arabic as a foreign language to students over there, being part of this program.”
What made the younger Dr. Al-Farhan evolve from majoring in Finance to pursuing his future as a full-fledged professor within a completely different field? Options! “The great thing about AUK, especially when I was a student, was that we were allowed to have up to three minors.” Though his major was in Finance, and he did very well with it, he always felt a kinship to the arts and humanities and took on a double minor of Arabic Literature and Visual Performing Arts. After graduating in 2011 and taking a brief hiatus working as an administrative assistant in the Writing Center at AUK while patiently waiting for his next move, he then ventured off to SOAS (School for Oriental and African Studies) in London to complete an MA in Arabic Literature, and shortly after a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. This of course led him back to where it all began, AUK.
But the question remains: how does it feel being on the other side of the fence? To Dr. Al-Farhan, it only seems appropriate given all the vehemence and dedication he put into this school over the past decade. “I also feel like my students look up to me a little! They love hearing about my experiences here, and the fact that I’m familiar with their environment – one of their own – makes it that much more special to them. I hope that I’m an inspiration to them to prosper and follow in my footsteps, and to make the most out of their school and really appreciate it.”
Even we can’t help but feel inspired by Dr. Al-Farhan’s songs of high-praise towards his alma mater. When he speaks of AUK graduates as we sit down to watch a brief commemorative video made in 2014 to celebrate AUK’s then 10 year anniversary, he watches intently and as it finishes, names the achievements made by each featured alum: “All in all, great things, and people, come out of AUK. What can I say,” he says with a chuckle. “AUK shaped me into the person I am today, and I’m a Wolfpack member for life!”
The American University of Kuwait (AUK) is an independent, private, and coeducational liberal arts institution of higher education. For more information about AUK visit www.auk.edu.kw or contact them on 180 2040 or 2224 8399 ext. 3148. Follow them on social media as American University of Kuwait on Facebook, @auk_kuwait on Instagram, and @AUKtweets on Twitter.