Inshallah: a private school for privileged Kuwaiti youth attempts to straddle a cultural divide
Fruit, Daniel Richard
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This study measures to what extent students of Al-Dharra Madressor (ADM), a private school in Kuwait, achieve American, Western "cultural proficiency," defined as the ability to understand and function in another culture. ADM operates as its own self-contained bilingual school system with a kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school. Native speakers of English and Arabic conduct subject and language classes in both languages, and cultural proficiency forms an implicit, if not explicit, part of school design. ADM graduates attend American, British, and Arab universities, and many eventually run Kuwaiti businesses that have a multi-cultural work environment, so American cultural proficiency holds instrumental value. The study's first half, building on the cultural and organizational theories of Hofstede, Ali, and Patai, develops a model of Arab culture in general and that of Kuwait. A historical and social survey of Kuwait focuses on the role and position of the Asil, a cohesive, affluent, long established, merchant group. The study depicts the Asil as politically and economically liberal but socially conservative. ADM functions as a representative Asil institution. The study's second half uses qualitative research and a mixed methodology to measure Arab and American (Western) cultural proficiency. The study triangulates the results of three instruments: the KATWII, adapted from the ARSMA II (Arnold, Cuellar, and Maldonado, 1995), an accepted measure of biculturality; the AWSIT, interviews of ADM students, Arab teachers, and Western teachers to access their reaction to American and Kuwaiti cultural situations; and the AGS, a general cultural survey. A series of student observations provides supplementary means of analysis. The study concludes that, though ADM students remain fundamentally Arab, most obtain an important, secondary American, Western cultural proficiency with some arguably "bicultural." While students show an awareness of some Western social norms and beliefs, when forced to choose, they typically choose Arab norms over Western. All design methods reach similar conclusions. This supports the findings of other studies of Arab groups in similar situations of cultural contrast.
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