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School Ties

Group of Northeastern students met and bonded in Switzerland
July 7th, 2011

Gaby’s from Mus­tique, a small Caribbean island. Bandar and Khalid are from Saudi Arabia. Saaj, who’s eth­ni­cally Indian, was born and raised in Dubai. Otto is from Paris.

They met and bonded in Switzer­land in their early teens, as stu­dents at a boarding school called Aiglon Col­lege, nes­tled high up in the Alps.

As grad­u­a­tion neared and it came time to pick a uni­ver­sity, they weren’t quite ready to break up the gang.So they all enrolled at North­eastern.

“I always wanted to come here,” says Saaj She­wakra­mani, whose older brother Sagar, BA’08, majored in mar­keting at Northeastern.

“I got the idea from him,” says Khalid Al Dabal, pointing at Bandar Al Saud.

When the five stu­dents first started thinking seri­ously about North­eastern, they were imme­di­ately drawn by the fact that the Uni­ver­sity is so inter­na­tion­ally focused. Like them.

Besides hailing from var­ious parts of the world, the friends — entering their fourth year except for Khalid, who’s will be a third-​​year — are all pur­suing some form of inter­na­tional study.

Gaby Mitchell is an inter­na­tional affairs and polit­ical sci­ence major. Saaj is an inter­na­tional affairs major. Otto studies both inter­na­tional affairs and eco­nomics. Bandar majors in inter­na­tional affairs and modern lan­guages. And Khalid studies finance and inter­na­tional business.

As it hap­pens, they’re just sev­eral of the twenty Aiglon grad­u­ates who have attended North­eastern since 1990, most of them in the past seven years.
David Hau­tanen, asso­ciate dean and director of admis­sion, has recruited at Aiglon since 2003. He attrib­utes this interest to the fact that “North­eastern offers so much, both aca­d­e­m­i­cally and through expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion. And we have a great campus.”

Like North­eastern, Aiglon places a strong emphasis on inter­na­tional study, travel and ser­vice. As teens, Otto and Gaby took a school trip to Vietnam, and Bandar and Saaj took one to China. Khalid did a ser­vice project in Peru after that country’s 2007 earthquake.

The stu­dents appre­ciate that North­eastern offers them so many oppor­tu­ni­ties to study and work abroad. Even the campus itself is a crossroads.

“It would be hard to find a class where there aren’t at least three dif­ferent nation­al­i­ties rep­re­sented,” says Gaby. “And, hon­estly, that’s what we crave.”
At Aiglon, the friends were together almost all the time, either in classes, at meals or in their res­i­den­tial “houses” (a living arrange­ment not unlike Harry Potter’s Hog­warts, says Gaby).

Now, at North­eastern, their sched­ules are busier than ever, and their paths don’t cross as often. But they’re deter­mined to keep their ties strong, meeting weekly for lunch or dinner, or just to hang out.
Along with the inter­na­tional focus, what do they most like about Northeastern?

For Bandar, it’s co-​​op. “When I heard about co-​​op, that’s when I knew for sure I wanted to go here and nowhere else,” he says. “Most jobs require expe­ri­ence — and if you’ve been in school, you don’t have expe­ri­ence. But at North­eastern, that’s not the case.”

For Gaby, it’s that North­eastern wants its stu­dents to be three-​​dimensional human beings.

“North­eastern looks at what you can bring to the uni­ver­sity — not just the SAT, but the whole pic­ture,” she says.
“When I learned this, I thought, Yes! A school that understands.”

- by Jason Kornwitz


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