Dr Khalfan Al Harrasi: Sharing the knowledge

Samail born and raised, Dr Khalfan Hamed Al Harrasi’s first memories are of his Dad reading. “Dad never went to school in the same way I, and thousands of Omanis have since the renaissance, but he always insisted that the way to know things was through reading.
It’s through him that I want to share my own learning’s, and those of the world around us, with future generations of young Omanis.”
Thus did Dr Harrasi, Head of the Foreign Languages Department at the University of Nizwa explain his passion for education, teaching and learning. Educated in Samail, and Sultan Qaboos University, he then journeyed overseas to the University of Northern Iowa, in the State of Iowa town of Cedar Falls. He laughed, “I was so naive, I thought there would be beautiful cedar trees and waterfalls all around the town with a name like that, but of course the reality was much different.”
That was in July 2001, and of course the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, and the Twin Towers, were to happen a bare two months later.
“I can’t deny that it was a difficult time,” he told me, “but the Embassy was incredibly supportive, offering alternative study options and destinations, but I was keen to stay. And I think being in the Mid-West region, rather than a metropolis, probably encouraged a return to relative normality faster than it otherwise could have. In fact, a lot of people were more curious than anything else, and I was able to present my faith as a force for good, allaying some concerns, and offering a more moderate perspective of Islam.”
Dr Harrasi was extremely complimentary of the educational support he received while in the USA, saying that his academic supervisor was, “outstanding! He explained teaching and learning so effectively, and persuaded me that teaching, and specially teaching teachers, could be more than just a job. That was when I absolutely knew, and determined my educational specialty. Since then I have also studied in Scotland, Manchester, Leeds and Malaysia, further developing my teaching and assessment knowledge, and who knows, maybe I will one day open an institute of my own?”
He continued, “My overseas experiences have all been positive, whether travelling or studying. I see them as having enriched me, and made me culturally aware. I haven’t had to hide or moderate my own faith or culture, but learned an awareness of the cultures of other nations and people, who usually just want to be either understood or respected. It can be challenging in this culturally sensitive world, but it’s surely all about little changes. I recall that upon my return from America I had to settle back into the Omani culture, which is based on Islam, tradition and respect, because of the formal nature of our relationships and interactions, while informality ruled while I was away. It really is a different world.”
“Now,” he said, “I work, and have done for the last eight years, as a supervisor of a multi-national academic work force, and my previous experiences, and the diversity of my duties, is something that I am societally, well prepared for, and with a high standard of English, and Western experiences, I am confident that I am taken seriously by my faculty, and not seen as a ‘token’ Omani appointment. I can engage, discuss, debate, and manage my team very effectively.”
Dr Harrasi he may be, but away from work he, like his father, reads a lot, mostly magazines, though a lot of academic articles as well. He has ambitions to produce a meaningful academic textbook, but for now, his current duties are his priority. Football has been a passion, and an injury restricted him for a time but he still plays “sometimes three times a week.”
Mention Seafood Fried Rice, and he licks his lips in anticipation, and he is active on social media, though not always appreciating its demands.
His final words were for the youth of Oman: “You are the future, and you must be willing to commit to your future, to have ambition, and to plan your future. There is no limit to what you can achieve, if you believe.” Sound words from an educator, sharing his thoughts.