Clinton Scholarship recipient meets former president

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crystal Meyer in Dubai

Not only was Crystal Meyer ’06 one of only three U.S. college students to have the honor of being a Clinton Scholar in the Middle East last fall, she had the additional privilege of meeting former President Bill Clinton.

"It was a dream come true," Meyer said of her brief time with Clinton. "He’s one of two people I’ve always wanted to meet. Nelson Mandela is the other."

After Clinton’s presentation to Meyer and her fellow students at American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Meyer, an international relations major, was chosen to ask the first question from the audience. Referring to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, she asked if he saw an end to the strife and what should be done about it.

"He talked about progress on both sides and the need to work together," she said. Meyer was pleased to have the former president autograph a copy of his book, "My Life," as a gift for her dad, Larry Meyer ’71. He and her mother, Peggy Ford Meyer ’70, have succeeded in business, politics and community service in St. Cloud since their graduation. Her sister Heather, who majored in spanish, has a business in Monterey, Mexico, with her husband, Hugo Garcia.

Crystal Meyer was one of only three fall 2005 Clinton Scholars in the nation, who receive full scholarships and living expenses. Clinton established the scholarship, which offers American college students the opportunity to gain understanding of the Arab world to share with their communities back home.

"I really fell in love with it," Meyer said of the Middle Eastern campus she attended along with students from Africa, many Middle East countries, South Asia, India and Pakistan. "International students are the majority there, not the minority." Her roommate was half Lebanese, half Palestinian, and her best friend was from Cameroon.

She was pleased to be able to come back and share some of her observations. "America is so misinformed," she said, citing as an example the belief that all Emerati women are oppressed. Many choose to wear the veil and have more freedom than westerners assume. "Emerati women are independent."

This summer Meyer came back to campus to take a political science class on terrorism. "I’m glad I waited to take it," she said. "I was able to make better contributions to the class because of my experiences in Dubai."

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