Al-Kaf honored with Kopp International Achievement Award
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Abdulrahman (Abdul) Al-Kaf, a junior majoring in industrial engineering in the College of Engineering at Penn State, has been awarded the 2017 LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award for undergraduate students.
The award recognizes undergraduate students who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the international mission of the University. It is named in honor of the late deputy vice president for international programs.
Al-Kaf said coming to Penn State from his home country of Yemen was at first a challenging experience but one that gave him confidence and a new perspective on life.
Through Foundations in Global Engagement (FiGE), a program provided by Global Penn State to help first-year domestic and international students develop multinational relationships, he was surrounded by students going through the same experiences and began to feel at home, eventually branching out and immersing himself in new cultures. Instead of being intimidated by foreign cultures, he began to embrace them.
“Every day, I wake up thirsty to drink from the cup of our differences,” said Al-Kaf. “As I fill this cup, I fulfill my satisfaction for being connected, for being a lifelong learner, and I am able to build an extraordinarily deep understanding for others.
As Al-Kaf found his footing, he joined FiGE, the International Student Organization and Global Exchange Leadership Experience, as a way to help others facing the same anxieties. Through these organizations, Al-Kaf is there to help students as well as offer a rare Yemeni perspective to the already diverse group.
“As a result, I have been getting involved more widely on this campus, speaking my thoughts and developing my own perspectives while listening to others,” said Al-Kaf. “The growth I have been experiencing will never stop because I will always find some uniqueness in every person I encounter. This growth has led me to love humans not despite the differences but because of them.”