WEST PLAINS, Mo. – More than 100 people attended the second annual “Around the World with Our International Students” event on April 11 at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP).
Held in the Carol Silvey Student Union at Hass-Darr Hall, the event allowed the university’s international students to share information about daily life in their home countries, what brought them to MSU-WP, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
Presenters this year included Ilana Assis and Sthefany Maximo-Carvalho of Brazil; Asli Erdi and Karya Suvarioglu of Turkey; Gagi Gvalia of Georgia; Dallas Clayton of New Zealand; Merrick Small of Australia; and Siphosethu Tumelo Jackson of South Africa.
Those attending also enjoyed a selection of international foods.
The experience left one attendee commenting, “It was like traveling the globe while staying in your seat,” organizers said.
Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paty Figueiredo was thrilled with the event. “I appreciate this effort to make our international students feel welcomed. It is amazing to see the support we receive from our school and community. It was an amazing surprise to be part of the event as the head volleyball coach now, and I would have truly appreciated the opportunity to talk about my country if we had this event when I was a student-athlete at MSU-West Plains,” she said.
Figueiredo attended MSU-WP from 2008-2010 and was a member of the Grizzly Volleyball team at the time.
“It is important for international students to feel welcomed and truly feel that people want to hear about their home country, family, and the people that are part of their life story,” she continued. “It is not easy to leave family behind and move to a new country. They have a lot of things to be proud of and to share.”
Participants in the university’s Host Family Program for students who were matched with international students were recognized and thanked at the event. “These families do so much to make sure our students feel at home here,” said Dr. Kathleen Morrison, professor of political science and an organizer of the event. “We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
The event was sponsored by the Student Government Association, Morrison’s International Relations class, and faculty.