Global UGRAD student from Israel declares Detroit 'one of the coolest places in the world'

Global UGRAD student Mohamed Arar
                               Mohamed Arar of Israel

Undergrad Mohamed Arar of Israel was unfamiliar with the American phrase “paying it forward” until he shared a heartwarming encounter after helping a homeless man at a local bus stop.

Arar, 23, says that in a gesture of goodwill he had given all the change from his pocket to the man, not realizing the bus farebox wasn’t equipped to accept certain bills or credit cards. Suddenly he realized that, without the change he just gave away, he couldn’t pay for his own bus fare. He was stuck.

Arar is a student from Tel Aviv University (TAU) that the Office for International Programs (OIP), in partnership with the U.S. Department of State through World Learning, is hosting this semester through the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD).

Community service is a component of the program and Arar was on his way to the Detroit Zoo to help with the Humane Society’s “Meet Your Best Friend” event.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, when the nicest lady behind me offered to cover my fare,” he says. “I have been in this country less than one month and it is one of the coolest places in the world with the kindest people.”

He is in a position to make that comparison, having visited 10 countries as a tourist and two others as a high school exchange student. Wanting to study abroad again, and visit the United States, he found the Global UGRAD program online and applied.

In his senior year at TAU, Arar is taking 14 credits here toward his bachelor’s degree in biology science. Before he left home, he was working at Safari Ramat Gan Tel Aviv and hopes to pursue a career in zoology or ecology upon graduation in 2019.

Global UGRAD scholarship winners are encouraged to take a course outside their major, and choosing Geography of Michigan has turned out to be a fine complement to the required Terrestrial Ecology class.

“Coming to the United States, I wanted to visit the Grand Canyon and see some whales, but with these two classes, I am so excited to be studying incredible information about Michigan in the classroom and through field study,” says Arar, who has never experienced fall and the changing colors of leaves, but is very excited about it.

He admits that initially he had doubts and fears about his placement in Detroit, but all stereotypes vanished early on.

Reiterating what he posted on social media shortly after he arrived in August, Arar says Detroit is one of the most unique cities he has visited – in the world - and its rich history continues to surprise him.

The Office of International Programs leads Wayne State’s global engagement by creating opportunities that foster international education and research, facilitate the exchange of individuals and ideas that promote global competencies and citizenship, and provide resources that support the expansion of the university’s global agenda. Follow us on Twitter @WayneOIP.

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