Well before the 80s, many Saudi diplomats and graduate students in D.C faced the dilemma of where to educate their children. But In 1984, The Saudi government established The Islamic Saudi Academy in many capitals including Washington D.C, which was relief for all Saudis living in Washington D.C and the surrounding areas. Soon, this academy not only became a teaching institute, it became an important link between two different societies. The honorary chairman of the board is the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States.
During a recent trip to the US, my cousin and I visited the academy without knowing any one there and without an appointment. Still, we were well received by staff such as Nadia Yousef from Human Resources and Adeelah Aljuhani from the admissions' office with graciousness and courtesy and all our questions were answered.
Later, I had the honor of meeting with the academy's Director General, Faridah Turkistani. As a Saudi citizen, it made me proud to see such talented and well-educated Saudi ladies running the academy, and doing a great job.
Do not think that the academy's activities are restricted to classrooms. Indeed, they have more extracurricular activities and community involvement than we had expected.
The ISA is very demanding from its students scholastically, is a fully bilingual, educational institution as well as a college preparatory school. In addition to the obvious subjects, the curriculum includes Islamic studies and social studies, which includes US history, geography, global studies, civics, and a wide variety of electives. The academy is a member of the Northern Virginia Independent Athletic Conference and participates in many local sports activities.
Most importantly, the students are very active in volunteer work within their communities as well as attending events that promote leadership and citizenship.
For example, they work hand in hand every year with the Saudi Cultural Mission in preparing for the graduation ceremony held for the thousands of Saudi scholarship students from all over the US.
Over the years, the students have won numerous awards for their participation in school debates. One of the other extracurricular activities includes Student Government Association, Academic Team, Future Business Leaders of America, Newsletter Club, Yearbook Committee, Community Service Organization and Drama Clubs, as well as many other activities. In my opinion, this academy is indeed an impressive school, much needed by the Saudi citizens living abroad who want to keep their children with them wherever they are, but also want their kids to receive a well-rounded education that includes parts of the curriculum they are used to back in Saudi Arabia.