Take advantage of diversity

By Gus Bode

Imagine if a new student walked into the Student Center. He would see a variety of ethnic groups. While traversing through the large hall, he would pass whites, blacks, Hispanics or Asians, among others.

At first glance, this vast hallway seems incredibly diverse and rich in culture. But as he peers at the students again, the new student begins to see through this pseudo-diverse campus. He sees self-imposed segregation.

This is a real-life scenario. Everyday, the Student Center is packed with students of every race and yet we choose to stick to “our own kind.”


For years, this country has worked to achieve a higher standard of diversity between races. While being absorbed in one conflict, we have allowed ourselves to bypass another – the relationships between domestic and international students.

They are students like the rest of us.

Alex Ngoma is from Zambia, Africa. He is working on his Ph.D. in political science. He enjoys eating Chinese food and grilled chicken.

On many occasions, Egla Ballta finds herself curling up to good movies such as “A Beautiful Mind” or “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” Before coming to SIUC as a finance major, she hailed from a tiny country wedged between Italy and Greece called Albania.

Xiaoguang Yu is a new mother. Although she spends most of her time taking care of a 2-month old newborn, she and her husband study computer science and geography, respectively. In her spare time, she likes to listen to Christian music.

Although these are only three out of nearly 1,700 international students at

SIUC, they represent the norm. All three agree that the draw of good programs and recommendations from former SIUC international students helped them decide on a college. They do, however, notice the rift between international students.


Many times, Americans tend to shy away from those who don’t speak fluent English. It is the same on this campus. Although all international students have to pass an English competency test to even be considered by the University, the language barrier tends to remain a problem.

The International Friend Club is one organization that tries to help bridge the gap. It helps these students with various problems or questions surrounding their new life. Volunteers help to provide cooking necessities, cribs for new families and lasting friendships.

Most recently, the IFC has been in the process of planning events to encourage new members, from the United States and abroad.

Starting Aug. 29 from 3-5 p.m., the Interfaith Center transforms into a coffeehouse. It provides free coffee and plenty of fun for international and domestic students. The Interfaith Center can be found at the corner of South Illinois and East Grand avenues.

In hopes of finding American families or English conversation partners, the IFC is planning a “Newcomers Party” on from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the SIUC Rec Center Alumni Lounge. An English conversation partner has to only devote one hour a week to his or her international partner. This allows them to adapt to the speed and slang of American English.

Most of the international students could get an equal education in their home country. Instead, they came here for an education and to learn about American culture. It is hard for them to do so without ever conversing with Americans. It is equally as hard for Americans to learn about other cultures if they don’t break out of their comfort zone and talk to different people.