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Student speaker Adnan Adel Al-Hammody (MATESOL ’13) had a request for the crowd gathered for spring commencement on Saturday: “If you would like to know more about where I am from, please don’t Google it.” Adnan’s hometown is Mosul, Iraq, and he was referring to the images of a war-torn city that would pop up in your search in place of the beautiful, ancient city that he knows well, a city where people of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds have lived in harmony for centuries.

Adnan was one of the first students to receive a scholarship from the Higher Committee for Education Development in the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office, allowing him and two other Iraqi students to attend the Monterey Institute beginning in fall 2010. “When I learned that I had received the scholarship and been accepted to the Monterey Institute, I shouted ‘YESSSS’ into the phone and thanked Allah that my dream had come true,” said Adnan.

He said that during his nearly three years in Monterey (including an English language preparation course before he matriculated into the TESOL program), he has learned so much, not only about the field of language teaching, but also about other cultures and how important it is to share your own. “I learned that stereotypes are misleading and can ruin relationships, between people and between nations,” he says, adding that his perception of the United States has changed a lot and for the better.

He is now looking forward to returning home to Iraq, where he will start teaching English at a university as part of his scholarship agreement. “I really miss my family—my father and my four older sisters and one brother and thirteen nieces and nephews!” Professionally, he plans to seek out like-minded people in the university and be an agent of positive change: “I really believe that MIIS graduates have all the right skills and experience to ‘be the solution’ and I want to do my part.”

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir