Hamoud Salhi: Expert on Middle East Relations Featured in Documentary on Successful Algerian Americans
Assistant professor of political science Hamoud Salhi was featured in a documentary on prominent Algerian Americans titled “Success Stories from the U.S.,” which was produced by Algerian National Television and the U.S. Department of State. The program is scheduled to air later this month.
A film crew from Algerian National Television spent two days in September to capture Salhi’s students and colleagues in a variety of activities, including class lectures, an interview with President Mildred García, a fundraiser by the Association of Political Science Students (APSS) to support victims of Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines, and a visit from former United Nations ambassador and civil rights leader Andrew Young.
Salhi says that the experience of showing audiences in his native country a glimpse of his life was an honor, although a daunting one.
“Algeria has a population of 37 million,” he says. “We have thousands, if not millions of people abroad. So for a television station from a country that size to single you out, it’s humbling.”
Salhi says that the visiting journalists enjoyed the experience of meeting American university students at CSU Dominguez Hills.
“I really wanted them to see Dominguez Hills because we really have a great thing here,” he says. “When the film crew came to the classes, they got a very positive impression. It’s a small campus, very friendly and positive. They liked how it is rich in [different] ethnic groups, and our students’ awareness of issues in the Middle East impressed them.”
A former journalist, Salhi continues to contribute columns for the Algerian newspapers El-Khabar, Ech-Chaab,and the Gulf News in Dubai. He is a regular political commentator on Algerian National Television and Radio and on Los Angeles NPR station KPCC (89.3FM). He says that being able to watch members of the foreign media at work was a learning experience for students.
“How the [documentarians] interacted with the campus made it easy for students to get the impression that they could do it too someday,” he notes.
Salhi came to the United States in the early 1980s on a scholarship from the government of Algeria and studied at the University of Southern California. He was one of only four students from the political science school at the University of Algiers chosen to receive the scholarship. He turned to teaching as a way to extend his visa while a graduate student at USC and began his career at Dominguez Hills as a lecturer in 1989.
After 25 years in the United States, Salhi, whose specialty is foreign policy, is often in the position of having to defend both the distinctly different positions of his adopted and native countries.
“You really deal with the stereotypes on both sides,” he says. “I’m finding that I’m criticized more and more in Algeria for being ‘too American’ and here for being too Middle Eastern, in a sense. But it’s such a great thing to be able to explain both cultures in the way that I can. My role has been to find ways of how to go about that issue and influence American foreign policy in ways that benefit both [the United States and the Middle East].”
Salhi teaches a model United Nations course at CSU Dominguez Hills. This year’s class won top honors in the Western Collegiate Model United Nations Conference, held last April at Santa Barbara City College. He has been the faculty advisor to APSS for four of his 20 years on campus. Salhi also serves on councils for the Ech-Chaab Strategic Center, a think tank in Algiers, and the University of Batna.
- Joanie Harmon