One’s level of family wealth prior to coming to an American university is another key factor in projecting the issues one might face when returning home. Many Muslim students come here with no financial worries, and others come with great financial need. Not only does that issue impact one’s experience during study here, but one’s experiences upon returning home can also be affected. Parental and extended family expectations on the student might vary based upon wealth. Some women may have arranged marriages awaiting them upon return. Whether the student will be working in the family business or must look for a job is another potential factor.
The Muslim country a student came from and is returning to can significantly impact the types of issues the student faces. A student who came here from Syria is returning to a war-torn country where there are probably no jobs to be had. A student from Malaysia is returning to a country under an entirely new government.
If the student returns home to a Muslim country as a believer in Christ, they could face any number of circumstances (most of which could be bad). Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) face potential persecution and ostracization by their families and town. The family may find it difficult to marry off the daughter, or the student may struggle greatly just to get a job. Survival may depend upon the level of discipleship the student received before going home and that student’s ability to seek out Christians in their home land.
For Muslim students returning home as unbelievers, it is nice to connect them with Christians in the culture if possible and to stay in touch with them via Skype or WhatsApp.
Principles cited in this blog: Muslim students face many issues when they return home after studying in the U.S. All are in addition to traditional reverse culture shock issues. Much depends upon the country they return to, their gender, and their level of wealth.
Application for ISI ministry: We need to help Muslim students become aware of the implications of reverse culture shock and help them think through those issues.
Next blog topic: Preparing myself and students to adapt to rapid changes in the times and circumstances.
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson