We all know the famous song by RB singer Pitbull, but never has it been better represented than in the 2011-2012 semesters at Drury University. Never have I seen a group of people be so different and at the same time so alike, come from dozens of different places and still call the same place home. This I have seen being part of perhaps the greatest community of International students in the US, the DU 2011-2012 Internationals.
Hello my good readers!
As you can tell by my latest posts Finals Week is fast approaching and with it the warmth of Summer, but most importantly the chance to start fresh in August with new goals and objectives. However it is also the chance to remember what a great year we all had and how thankful we must be for being part of a community as unique at Drury.
It all started back during the hot month of August, coming back to Drury each semester is always a memory I treasure because nothing beats that moment when you see your friends and those close to you after a long time apart; nothing except perhaps welcoming the new Internationals to their home for the next 4 years (5 if you decide to become a crazy Architecture student ). They are all nervous and scared, but at the same time they most excited because they don’t know what awaits them, just that it will be something beyond their most wild dreams. Orientation began and with it my opportunity to meet them all, and boy was I surprised with what we got! Never have I seen a group of people become friends as fast, forget about nationalities! Korea befriended Spain, Ecuador bonded with Iraq, Germany approached South Africa and many other friendships that to this day remain strong and vibrant. It is the purest of moments to watch something as beautiful as this develop and I was and continued to feel privileged to be able to be part of this experience. As classes began I saw as they struggled to adapt to this new environment, which brought them closer, giving each and everyone of them the strength they needed to finally call Springfield a Home away from Home. Us veterans had gone through a similar process, but it was a wonderful experience for me to see all these smart, talented and extraordinary people creating bonds that will last for ever, no matter where we are. Today I can proudly say I am extremely thankful for them considering me their friend and placing their trust in my, even if when the semesters dragged along and we became apart, I know that we shall always remain the friends we are.
From my rather excessive Foursquare check in’s you might have learned of a place called International Summit House, although that is the official name it is a place I also call home. This house has seen its fair share of International’s, it has been host to friendships growing, people falling in love, fighting and eventual reconciliations, but most importantly it has seen the birth of a family. You all might not understand why I dedicate my time to internationals, but that moment when I saw dozens of happy faces finally getting over what they had left behind in their countries and realizing: “Hey! I actually like this bunch of crazy people that speak a different language, believe something different and come from a different place; not only do I like them, but I want to be part of them!” That’s the moment when it all becomes worth it.
The cold weather brought with it October and November when yet again I saw the evidence that something magical was happening with the international community at Drury, something that I nor anyone else could have predicted. Fall Break in Memphis was perhaps one of the best times I have ever had in my life. Hanging out with the best of people in a city we didn’t know, but were so eager to discover was just amazing. Another layer of strong and unbreakable friendship was added to our group and again I thought to myself “hey maybe this international community thing can actually become a reality!” As we drove back to Springfield I couldn’t help but smile looking around the van and looking at all these people who I called strangers 2 months prior and now I could even call my family.
Thanksgiving Break has always been somewhat of a puzzle for internationals considering we don’t celebrate it per say, but celebrating we did! Although I myself headed to Chicago with some of my friends I know many Internationals went home with their American roommates, others traveled to even further places than Chicago and overall it was a time to relax after Midterms and studying so we could come back refreshed for the rest of the semester. Wherever we went we made new friends or cemented existing ones, making sure our community remained vibrant and ever growing. And again as I rode back on the Amtrak from Chicago to St. Louis and saw all my friends either sleeping or happily chatting I was thrilled to see it actually coming together. Our family
Many things happened afterwards that either made this dream of mine more of a reality, and others made it burst the bubble, but there is one moment when I knew it had actually became a sure thing. Planning for the 2012 International Food Festival is always the most stressful time of the year for me (yeah forget about Finals or Midterms). The weeks before I was somewhat disappointing as I observed people either ignoring their roles in the organization or simply abstaining to participate at all! But I pushed the matter to the back of my mind, I had bigger things to worry about, for starters how were 50 people going to feed over 300 in less than 1 hour?!
I did not think about this again until the very end of the Food Festival. Everyone started to leave since the performances were over and the food was all finished, but when I called every International present to the stage for our group picture… well that was the moment I knew the Dream had become a Reality. Saw dozens of different countries represented, but only one community and its a community so diverse and at the same time so similar that I couldn’t help but doubt it.
You see we have all been through so much together that it would be impossible for us to not be the greatest of friends! And any international reading this will know what I am talking about, it is both the bad moments and the good moments that make us grow closer. It’s like a Roller Coaster ride, but every roller coaster stops safely at some point even though it might have loops or sharp turns. But isn’t this the beauty of life? Not the goal itself, but how you get there?
When I was asked by my office to write a post to wrap up my year I tossed dozens of ideas in my mind, but then I realized! I would be nothing today if it not were for my international family that not only has been there whenever I needed them, but also has proven to me and the world that different languages or religions are not an obstacle in the way of friendship. It has been without a doubt an incredible year and I would not change anything because I myself have grown as a person, because of both the bad moments and the good.
Whether youre reading this from Islamabad or Nairobi, Buenos Aires or Moscow, Sidney or Osaka; know that this will also become your family when you attend our school. We cannot wait for you to join us!
Thanks to everyone who made this year, one of the best in my life!