Hear Their Voices

Written and Media by Tawnie Kozora.

Celebrating Chinese New Year with some hotpot. Media by Tawnie Kozora

Everyone has a story. Imagine you and some friends are sitting at a table in the DC. You look over and see an Asian international student sitting alone. You probably think to yourself, “she wants to sit alone” or “he probably can’t speak English.” The truth is, that person has been studying English for years and would probably enjoy a conversation with you. 

The international students at Greenville College came to learn, but also to experience American culture. By not making an effort to get to know someone of another society, you are denying that person something they came for as well as denying yourself an enriching experience. These students are from the other side of the world–almost an entire day away from their family, friends, and everything they know. They have to stay up late or wake up early just to talk to their parents.

Mary Krauss, Sam Ng, Fandy Fan, and Tawnie Kozora celebrating the new year in the upper union. Media by Tawnie Kozora

When you see an international student sitting alone and assume what he/she wants, you don’t get to know their story. Maybe they do want to sit alone, but that doesn’t mean they never want to talk to you. Be aware when are talking to an international student that their brains have to translate everything you say! While some may be advanced, it takes others a couple seconds to compute everything. If you talk too fast, it’s more difficult to pick up English.

So, take an opportunity to get to know someone at GC who is from another culture. Ask them about their life and learn a little something about another culture in the process. Invite these students to experience the culture we live in. It’s priceless seeing another face light up when trying something new for the first time.

Being friends with the international students at GC has brought so much joy to my life. So, put yourself out there and introduce yourself to one of these students–I promise you won’t regret it. If some day you travel the world and end up in their country, they can welcome you into their country like you did for them. Take a leap. Listen to what they have to say. You may even learn a thing or two.


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