This week I’d like to share my best experience studying in Fontbonne University. When I first moved to St. Louis to study at Fontbonne, I was a bit scared since I was moving from California where there’s more people with various ethnicity and races. That’s why when I first moved in here, I was scared as I felt I was very different from others. However, now I’m really thankful that I can came to St Louis to study in here. My classmates here are all very nice and friendly. Before in California, I tended to interact more with people who are the same race or speak the same language as me. But after I came to study here, I developed a very good and close relationship with my fellow classmates. They all appreciated my (non fluent) oral speaking. I’m very pleased that even though we all come from different cultures, we can still accept each other and explore one another’s cultures. I’m really glad that I can make these lovely classmates at Fontbonne — they make me feel not alone in a totally different place than California.
College is a time of development, change, experiences, and fun! During my college years, I have experienced many challenges. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges I have faced is saying goodbye to my global friends. Here at Fontbonne, I have had the privilege of meeting people from all around the world; from Japan to Saudi Arabia and Brazil to Vietnam. Every single international student is unique in their own way and brings so much joy to campus. The downside to this, however, is that they must go at some time. This past fall, I had the pleasure of living on the same residence hall floor as many of the Brazilian and Japanese international students. We become extremely close and there was never a dull moment! As the semester drew to an end, my friends from other countries were preparing to return home.
It was difficult to say goodbye to these people who had become some of my closest friends at Fontbonne- I did not know what Fontbonne was like without them! When it was time to go our separate ways, I wrote a note to each friend of mine and gave them pictures from our time together here at Fontbonne. Since then, I have Skyped with some friends, texted them using the app “Whatsapp”- which is a texting app that can be used with Wifi or cellular data, and used Facebook and Instagram to keep up with them. Although it is difficult to be here without seeing their smiling faces and communicating with them face-t0-face, I am grateful for the technology that we do have to stay in touch and I am even hoping to travel to visit some of them in the upcoming years! I would not trade my time with my international friends for anything; and I always say that I am happy I had the short time I did have with them than no time at all! I encourage everybody to step out of their comfort zone and reach out to others who are different than you. You can learn a great deal about the history, culture, and traditions of other countries by simply talking to your neighbor down the hall!
On that note, the Campus Ministry team at Fontbonne is hosting “Better Together Day” this Tuesday, April 14th from 11am-1pm in the grassy area outside of the library. Students will have an opportunity to sit in a ball pit (yes, a ball pit!) and get to know somebody on campus that comes from a different walk of life or belief system than their own! This is a great way to get to know your peers right here on campus and learn a little about the many religions represented at Fontbonne!
Fontbonne University might seem like a small place, but there are more than 27 countries represented in the student body! However, it may be difficult to realize this because we are scattered along the different majors and programs that Fontbonne offers.
The International Bazaar on the 18th of November was the perfect event to showcase the diversity from international students that have made Fontbonne their home.
Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Congo, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Bangladesh, United States and Saudi Arabia each country with their own table and the best part: they all had food to share!
The environment was hectic but a lot of fun, people were going from table to table getting to know students and trying out the different dishes. It was hard to try out all the food! But given that most of the tables run out of their dishes I would say that they were a success.
The best part of the afternoon was when the Brazilian band started playing and two traditional Brazilian dancers came out in full costume dancing! It was the perfect ending for an event that was filled with fun, sharing and great food.
If you missed the International Bazaar this year, then mark it in your calendar for next year! It is an amazing event that will broaden your knowledge about all the other cultures that are part of Fontbonne.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Tran, Yasser Alotaibi and Fontbonne University.
If I’ve learned one thing this year at Fontbonne, it’s cultural competence. Cultural competence is one of the greatest qualities you can acquire to further your acceptance of the people and cultures around you. There are may ways to “culture” yourself… Books, forming new friendships & acquaintances and even trying the food of a culture you’ve never tried before. In my class, Food Pathways of Diverse Cultures, we dive into recipes from places like the Middle East, the Americas, India and Africa. It’s truly amazing what happens when you are exposed to traditional foods from cultures other than your own. I am realizing how much culture is out there that I have yet to experience. This is an exciting realization for me, because I am passionate about lifelong learning.
The more we learn about cultures and belief systems outside our own bubble, the more likely we are to whole heartedly accept the diverse population we live in. Sometimes we see the world through a narrow scope, but there is more to see than anyone can even imagine. If you feel your view may be narrow, try widening it just a smidge, and open up to something you’ve never experienced before 🙂 I promise you won’t regret it!