Have you ever wondered what it feels like to see the snow for the first time in your life? It is beyond doubt that the Minnesota winter generates mixed feelings amongst many students. For some students who, like me, come from warm places, Minnesota winter is indeed part of our BREWing. I have come to realize that my experience with the winter correlates to my day-to-day experiences with my “diverse” pool of friends. It is this relationship that I wish most of us should appreciate and take advantage of.
I remember it was a Friday night and my friend Blondie came pounding on my door yelling “Howard, come see the snow!” I leapt off my bed, went outside and stretched my hands out to feel the fluffy snow run down them. I could feel myself saying, “finally, we meet” as I took a deep breath with a smile on my face.
The memories of that day still remain in my mind. This semester, as I talk to other students who come from various regions of the world, I just smile each time I hear them narrate their first encounter with “beautiful snow” as I have come to call it. It seems everyone has a different story to tell. Interestingly, they are mostly stories of joy and excitement because the snow and the cold cannot be separated.
But, wait a minute: do we also have interesting stories to tell about other students from various cultures that we meet on campus too?
If I can get fascinated and excited about the snow and Minnesota winter because it’s “different” and I had never seen it before except in movies, wouldn’t I be so excited to meet someone from a country that I know little about?
I have realized that as students we have a tendency to take our college experiences for granted. Do you realize that this is the time for you to open your eyes and enjoy this experience that you have? For me as an international student, last year was my first time experiencing Minnesota winter and seeing the snow. But my experience doesn’t end there; I have been making friends from various parts of the world as well, and I think that is worth even more than a mere encounter with the snow.
Concordia gives us many opportunities that we may not take advantage of. With more than 40 countries represented at Concordia, I have made friends from all over the world. I try to get to know about different cultures, values and how various communities work, finding that very fulfilling. Just like encountering snow for the first time, interacting with someone from a different culture is indeed life changing.
I have had discussions with some of my American friends who had a chance to study abroad, and they all have interesting stories to share. In most cases, they say the experience changed their lives. This is true, and we can generate a global community here at Concordia as well by opening up to people from different parts of the world. Don’t you think it’s time to stop and get out of that circle of friends that you always hang out with and go meet new people from various cultures?
If seeing the snow can bring feelings of joy into somebody like me, wouldn’t the experience of getting to know someone from a different culture generate a more profound meaning in your life? Well, they say people are different, but I seriously suggest that if we as a community seek to reach out and form relationships with people from other parts of the country or continents, we will indeed make the most out of our college experience.
I have learned a lot from getting to know people with different backgrounds, and I hope that we can get out of our own circles and begin to make more connections.
Howard Mukanda is a Sophomore Student from Zimbabwe. He is Double Majoring in Business Management Information Systems and Global Studies. His Involvement with International Students, Peer Mentorship and International Admissions echoes his immense interest in Cultural Diversity.
Howard is also intrigued by Global issues concerning Peace, Justice and Democracy.