Driving toward a dream
International student plays game show host
By Julie Carle
Basil Alholaily came from Saudi Arabia to Bowling Green State University to pursue his dream of a college degree. Little did he know that during his time in the United States he would get a chance to fulfill a childhood dream as well.
Alholaily, who plans to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in technology, mechanical design, was selected to participate in a Ford Motor Company commercial where “dreams meet opportunities.”
He was one of 12 individuals selected from more than 300 across the world to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime experience. He took a leap of faith and traveled to California where he was filmed driving a Ford Mustang on his way to fulfilling a childhood wish that he had all but dismissed—to host a TV game show.
Several months after the filming, he reflected on what transpired and how it changed his life.
Alholaily had worked for eight years in Saudi Arabia as a clerk and auditor in the oil industry, saving money to further his education and “to get the kind of job I was hoping for,” Alholaily said. He connected with a friend who already was attending BGSU, and then traveled to Bowling Green in December 2008. By August 2009 he was enrolled in the engineering technologies department and learning about life in the states.
Once here, he dedicated himself to perfecting his English, studying diligently and working at the University Libraries’ depository to help with expenses.
As his final year at BGSU neared, Alholaily put aside his fear of speaking in public and interviewed to participate in the Ford “documentary.” Each of the 12 individuals selected “had a story, something interesting to share,” he said. “We were asked about our dreams,” he added.
The dream he shared with Ford was borne during his childhood, watching the Arabic version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
“It was a magical time for me,” he reminisced. “The whole family would watch together. When we got the answer right, we would be congratulated. When we got it wrong, we would laugh. There were lots of happy memories about the game show,” he explained.
Ultimately, he was selected; however the prize trip to California was shrouded in mystery for Alholaily.
When he arrived, his first task was to be fitted for a suit. He was then asked to drive a Mustang and talk about the experience of driving the classic vehicle. During the filming, he was asked about his dream; he talked about one day having his own game show. The interviewer asked, “hosting a game show could really be a way of expressing yourself and leaving your mark?”
As he nodded, he was told, “One of the things we’ve arranged is to rent a studio and you are going to host your own game show.”
In the beginning it felt like a dream,” he admitted. He was nervous about being in front of an audience, but soon relaxed. When the game show was over he realized, “This experience changed me.”
Not only did he get to live out his dream, but he also saw 11 others pursue theirs as well, from a British IT consultant who wanted to be a voice actor to a Chinese man who was reconnected with a long-lost childhood friend. The commercial sparked a drive to try a different path. He plans to pursue a career in media, TV or film.
“I can’t wait for the next opportunity to present itself,” he said. “I learned no matter what one’s dream is, you must pursue it because anything is possible.” He has a ride in a Mustang and a game show experience to prove it.