By Alyssa Pawluk
International students in Youngstown State University’s Emergency Medical Technician program are being trained to work for one of the largest corporations in the world: Saudi Aramco.
Saudi Aramco is a global petroleum enterprise located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and is a world leader in exploration, production, marketing and petrochemicals manufacturing. Saudi Aramco sponsors more than 1,000 high school students in Saudi Arabia to study at worldwide universities before moving onto college.
Mohammed Alghamdi, Ayidh Alghamdi, Abdulallah Alkhunaizy, Abdullahal Anazi, Jassim Almutairi, Mohammed Almadan and Hussain Alsayagh are some of YSU’s students who will be training as EMTs and eventually will be working for Saudi Aramco.
To work for the company — as well as study as an undergraduate — the students have to score a certain percentage on the Test of English as a Foreign Language and The English Language Institute at YSU helps students to accomplish this.
The English Language Institute, part of the Center for International Studies and Programs, offers a noncredit English program for these international students.
Lynn Greene, assistant director for the ELI of YSU, said that the institute provides courses like grammar, reading, writing, listening, vocabulary and speaking to help the students prepare for test.
“Since 2010, we have been getting students from the Aramco Company. They come to us first until they get their TOEFL, a test of English proficiency, scores up. You have to have a certain score on this test before you are immiscible if you are an international student. They have to come to us to get their grammar and writing and their listening skills up so that they can enter undergraduate studies,” Greene said.
Greene said that these students would receive a two-year degree from the university and, after graduation, would work for the Aramco Company in Saudi Arabia.
The students have to work for the company for a number of years to pay back the education, or work as full-time employees if they choose to.
“Aramco pays for their tuition, their fees, and they give them living expenses. They give them a stipend every month,” Greene said.
The ELI currently has 52 students and has been a part of campus since 1996. Greene said the ELI prepares the students for their continued education.
“Every once in a while, we will get someone who wants in just to improve their English, but our basis is academic, not every day English … going to the grocery store to the mall. … We prepare them not just with grammar, reading and vocabulary for the university, but also culturally. We prepare them for the classroom in general and for the whole experience,” Greene said. “We are sometimes the last key to fit the lock to getting to the university. Their grades are good enough, their credits transfer. If they want to go to graduate school, but their English isn’t quite where it should be.”
The English Language Institute on campus is open to anyone whose first language is not English, but Greene said the program has had permanent residents — non-native speakers who are married to Americans.
While all of the YSU students in the program have to work for Saudi Aramco after they receive the two years of education, some have said they will pursue studies in other areas besides the EMT.
Ayidh Alghamdi, one student who has been part of the ELI for six months, said that he would like to pursue a degree in the science or mathematics field.
“I hope that I will pass the IELTS, another test of the English language, and go to the university for two years as a paramedic. It’s very awesome. We study the English language and then after that I will study biology and mathematic science,” Ayidh Alghamdi said.
Mohammed Alghamdi said that after he works for Aramco, he is interested in becoming a paramedic.
“After I graduated high school, I went to the Aramco Company and they chose the major for me. They told me about it and I think it is very good. In the future, you are going to be a paramedic and you will help the people and that is a good job, I think,” Mohammed Alghamdi said.
Alkhunaizy said that he is going to work as a paramedic for the company upon graduation.
“I started Aramco last year in December. They [Aramco] teach us general studies like math and biology and English before we came here so we can pass the IELTS exam. It’s an exam that determines the level of English skills,” Alkhunaizy said. “When I graduate, I’m going back to Saudi Arabia and I’m going to work as a paramedic in the Dhahran, a city in Saudi Arabia.”