The word “dating” varies in its meaning across cultures. There are even some places in the world where the concept of dating does not exist. On Friday, Feb. 15 the Office of Victims Assistance and the International Center put together a program in Dinkins Auditorium designed to shed light on the term dating in various cultures around the world Dinkins Auditorium. The event entitled“Dating Across Culture” was a formation of student panelists from China, India, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka and the United States who shared their unique perspectives on dating.
In addition, Dr. Jennifer Disney associate professor of political science and Dr. Roger Baumgarte, of University College, contributed their global insight on intercultural relationships.
“There are so many cultural differences that you need to be aware of,” said panelist Susan Clark senior broadcasting major from Beaufort, SC. “Not being aware of those differences can create a problem,” said Clark.
Clark is currently in an international relationship with Majid Alasfoor, graduate business administration student from Saudi Arabia.
“One of the highlights of being in an international relationship is the commitment and hard work, Alasfoor said, “It’s a lot of work but it only makes the relationship stronger.”
“In my country we don’t have this word dating,” said panelist Alasfoor. “If you want to talk to a girl the parents must arrange a meeting with her family first,” Alasfoor said.
In countries like Saudi Arabia, the dating process is referred to as an engagement period. This process can last at least two months or more. It is only during this time that men and women are allowed to talk and see each other.
“My engagement was for 11 months. It is during this time I was able to talk and get to know my wife,” said Badr Alhowail, exercise science major from Saudi Arabia.
In other countries like Slovenia, their idea of the dating process usually starts in the mid to late teenage years.
“Dating in Slovenia usual starts at the ages of 15 and 16, but it’s a long term commitment,” said panelist Ani Subotica, International student from Slovenia. “I have friends that started dating when they were 15 and they are still together now at the age of 21 and up.”
International students and panelist. all seemed to have the same preconceived notion that Americans are easy to have sex with before they came to America.
“We watched movies like American Pie so when I came to America that’s what I thought it was going to be like,” said Subotica. “I expected to just see people hooking up in the hallway and bathrooms.”
“Before coming to America I was very excited, because I watched movies about how easy it was to get American woman,” said Mohammed Dakhakhni, senior business administration major from Saudi Arabia. “I thought when I came here I was going to have a different girl every night,” Dakhakhni said.
When Dakhakhni arrived in America, he soon learned that what he saw in the media was not accurate. “Don’t trust the media,” said Dakhakhni, “they make everything up.”
Movies like American Pie created the stereotype of American’s being easy, but in reality Americans are a well-balanced group of people.
“Americans are better-rounded”, said panelist Vivek Patel, senior biology major from India. “People where I am from are only good at studying, reading books, and trying to memorize the information,” said Patel.
“When I started at Winthrop I saw that the International students needed a platform,” said LeAnn Lowrey International Student Tutor and Casual Friday Program Planning Coordinator. Programs such as this provide students with a comfortable setting to discusses interesting topics that vary across cultures. It is for this reason that Casual Friday was created.
“International and American students need to learn how to communicate with each other,” said Lowery.
One Friday out of each month students can come together and have discussion.
The next schedule of events from the International Center is as followed:
March 1 – March Madness
March 29 – Student Choice
April 12 – Native American Culture