THE INTER-MOUNTAIN - Students at Elkins Middle School were introduced to a wide array of cultures when they met international students from Davis & Elkins College Wednesday.
School counselor Roohi Khan said the main purpose in inviting international students to EMS was to promote acceptance, diversity and education.
“We want the students to see how people around the world live and give them exposure to people from other countries to see the commonalities between them and the rest of the world,” Khan said.
D&E students echoed Khan, saying they find importance in introducing young students to new perspectives and encouraging diversity.
“I think people should learn about other cultures and about how people from other countries think and how they view life, school and all different topics,” Petar Vesic of Serbia said.
Lucas Ternqvist of Sweden added he believes it is important for students to have this type of positive exposure to other viewpoints.
“I think it’s very important to gain different perspectives and to see things through different eyes – to learn the big picture,” Ternqvist said.
Khan added she is hopeful that students at EMS will be encouraged to explore the possibility of higher education following their time hearing from college students.
“Having the students from D&E visit the school also promotes higher education — talking about scholarships, sports and how much effort people make to further their education may inspire them to pursue education,” she said. “D&E is our partner in education, so students come here for various reasons — we have student teachers, we have kids who are doing their practicum or their observations here. So, having them come here to give a different perspective on the reason they are at D&E and promoting education is a great resource and we are very lucky to have them.”
“We have been through this (part of life) already, so we can help them by encouraging them to learn another language or try to get a scholarship,” Issa Mouafo of Cameroon said. “I hope some of these kids can hold on to that and have bright futures.”
Natalie Sutton, an eighth-grade student at EMS, said she learned a lot from hearing D&E international students speak during their visit to the school.
“I learned a lot about cultures in other countries,” she said. “We learned about their way of life and how different and similar they are to how we live.”
Students from the middle school held an open dialogue with the college students, including raising questions related to culture, education, languages, cuisine, transportation and holidays.
Ternqvist joked that one of his favorite questions asked by more than one student was related to a furniture retail company from his home country.
“They asked if naming your child IKEA was illegal in Sweden — I had never thought about that myself,” he said.
Vesic and Mouafo added students raised questions about topics related to dirtbike riding in certain countries and how people from their homes stereotype Americans.
Sutton said she found humor in hearing some of the typical stereotypes certain countries have on American people. She added she enjoys interacting with both traditional and international students from D&E through school programs and athletic camps.