Going Global: Sudanese PhD candidate calls Carbondale home - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Going Global: Sudanese PhD candidate calls Carbondale home

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In this week's episode of "Going Global," we meet a Sudanese father, husband and PhD candidate who calls southern Illinois home.

Omer Elsanusi is a PhD Candidate pursuing mechanical engineering at Southern Illinois University. He came to the Unites States from Sudan four-and-a-half years ago.

"I'm from Omdurman," Elsanusi said. "Our capital is a three city capitol, so we have Khartoum which is known as the main capital, but Omdurman and Khartoum North is, basically they are right next to each other, separating them is the Nile River."

Elsanusi was born in Saudi Arabia and traveled to Sudan every summer as a child. He moved to Sudan to study at the University of Khartoum where he earned his bachelor's degree and met the love of his life, who would later become his wife. He also spent time in Malaysia for grad school, before moving to southern Illinois. 

“I’m not really used to live in such a small city or town like Carbondale," Elsanusi said. "It’s a different way of living I guess.”

He adjusted over the years, but sometimes misses being around family, the crowed streets and the massive weddings in Sudan.

"Try to guess how many people were there in our wedding ceremony," Elsanusi said. "More than 1500."

That's right, more than 1500 people. Although many didn't personally know the bride and groom, the community rallied around the couple to celebrate their union, similar to other African cultures.

"That's the tradition, it's not like something happened in our wedding or we know a lot of people," Elsanusi said.

Elsanusi and his wife Asia expanded their family, welcoming baby Ali into the world at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. He credits the team of doctors and staff there.

“They are just amazing, I’ve never seen people who are really dedicated and love their job like these people,” Elsanusi said.

Elsanusi admits parenting a newborn is hard work, but despite the sleepless nights, he said it's worth it.

"I can't even express how joyful it is to have a baby in our life," Elsanusi said.

He's also thankful for all the new friends he's made in southern Illinois, including friends at the Carbondale Muslim Center.

“When it comes to being Muslim, and do all the activities we do as Muslims, by celebrating Ramadan and Eid and everything, it’s really nice to have people that will share that with you and it’s like a big family,” Elsanusi said.

Today, Elsanusi is working to develop more research on thermal energy storage. He hopes the research will help communities all around the world, from Southern Illinois to East Africa.

"We owe it to our next generations, our grandchildren, to find solutions now and be more aware of how we deal with our planet's resources," Elsanusi said.

Elsanusi is also involved in working with a program, funded by the National Science Foundation, that helps transfer-students in need receive aid to pursue paths in the STEM field at SIU.

"That's one of the things that amazes me around here since I came to the U.S." Elsanusi said. "Opportunities are there if you are willing to work for them."

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