Adonis Diaries

My Second trip to USA: Introspection

Posted on: January 28, 2009

Something about my second university period in the USA (1986-1991;continue 35)


I applied for a Canadian emigration visa in 1984 in Jounieh but it was denied me; the representative in the interview did not interview me at all; he told me never to apply again.  The unique question that he asked me, but that he was not interested in hearing the answer, was: “Why did you lie saying you had no job?”  I have been told that my job is at an end since the construction project was over in Maameltein.  But the arrogant Canadian representative did not wait for an answer; probably, Canada had reversed its decision for further immigration of Lebanese due to the desires of the Maronite Patriarch.  I thus decided for a PhD program at the same university, the University of Oklahoma at Norman, with a tacit understanding that I would benefit of a partial grant.

I obtained a visa to the USA for 5 years and bought a returned ticket; I never used returned tickets in both trips. I did not apply for graduate studies or anything.  It was a decision of the moment and I obtained a business visa. My parents were taken by surprise as a climate of peace was rumored to last.  A month after I landed in the US, civil war resumed in Lebanon and this time it was between the Lebanese Army of General Aoun PM and the “Lebanese Forces” of Samir and it was localized in our district. This round of civil war was among the Maronites and in the mainly Christian districts and it was the worst; people huddled for 6 months in their basements.  I had to contact the Red Cross in Oklahoma for news on my folks and relatives.  I received encouraging news two weeks later by mail from the Red Cross.

I left with $5,000 of my own saved money, much devalued by inflation. Again, I had no one to receive me at the airport and had no acquaintances to shelter me; it was the same lonely and frustrating process as my first travel, it was as if I never learned anything, but I knew my destination this time around and what to expect to see. There were no internet facilities at the time and no versatile communications means.

I stayed two days at the temporary university boarding building.  A bright Lebanese undergraduate student in electrical engineering named Ghassan visited me at the dorm and connected me with a Lebanese graduate student in Environmental Engineering who rented a house far from campus; he agreed to take me in for a week and I used to accompany him in his car mornings and evenings.

Ghassan was to obtain his PhD in the same year of my graduation and worked with Cisco in Oklahoma City. I forgot the name of the Environmental engineer: my memory is the weakest element of my brain, especially in recall. I remember that I aided this student during his PhD project; I connected him with the specialized person in data design and acquisition and then I helped him imputing data for statistical analysis; he insisted on paying me and when I finally asked for $100 for a whole month of work (I was totally broke at the time) he got furious for accepting money since he took me in for free, 5 years ago for a week.  This is a typical Lebanese testing gimmick for loyalty or whatever you label it; they insist and your role is to continue refusing, but I was not proficient in that custom and abhorred it.

Note:  Most of my jobs and positions after graduation in 1991 with a PhD in Human Factors Engineering were not related to my specialty, a specialty that I am still trying to define and explain to myself.  Luckily, 15 years later, I had the opportunity to teach at a university in Lebanon, on part-time basis, two courses related to Human Factors in engineering and I ended up writing over 50 professional articles to explain this discipline to myself and also for lack of textbooks and professional magazines that the university dragged its feet in acquiring them.  Twenty five of these articles were my way to re-discover what this field is all about and transmit its concept; I thus published on wordpress.com the category “What is that concept of Human Factors in Engineering?”.  I think that I learned to think properly in designing experiments in my PhD years and getting familiar with the various Statistical packages mostly used by social and economic disciplines


1 Response to "My Second trip to USA: Introspection"

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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