Campus international students integrate through volleyball

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A group of 25 new international students from 23 different countries arrived at Maryville College about three weeks ago to study for either a semester or a year.
During the international orientation, the students received an opportunity to get to know one another, and they were invited shortly after to play a volleyball game by other international and American students already at MC.
The volleyball games have become a popularity for students. Ralph Kristl, a senior exchange student from Austria, is one of the students most enthusiastic on the volleyball court.
“The most important thing I learned from playing volleyball with all these guys and girls was that I really was not good at volleyball. The number of games I had played before I came to MC can be counted on the fingers in one hand,” Kristl said.
“Other than that, playing volleyball with so many different people from different cultural backgrounds is a really unique experience that you probably won’t be able to encounter again for the rest of your life.”
Kristl joined an intramural volleyball team of mostly international students. The name of his volleyball team is “The Strugglers,” since they did not have much experience of playing volleyball.
A business and marketing major, Talat Fida, has been playing volleyball since his freshman year of college in Pakistan. He said that he was thrilled to get to know international students on campus, but also American ones, through the volleyball games.
“Volleyball gives you an opportunity to get close to each other; you play in a team,” Fida said. “I have learned that, it doesn’t matter where you from and what you think of others, what matters a lot is creating a better understanding with people around you, by learning from them and teaching them.”
Fida is in a team named the “Ali Babas.” “Ali Baba” is both an Arabic and Urdu word. The team members said that they chose the name since each international student could “pronounce the words correctly.” In English, the words describe a person who is extremely pro-active and quickly.
Angelina Kaehl, a junior transfer student from New York majoring in American sign language-English interpreting, started to play volleyball when she first came to the college three weeks ago.
“Everybody became really close group of friends,” Kaehl said. “We always hang out, and we have a good time doing stuff all together. I expect us to be long-term friends and keep some bonds and really get to know each other.”
Phonsawan Jinowat from Tailand, an exchange student who majors in teaching English as a second language described enjoys how the teams often shift members in order to get know everyone and offer a chance for everyone to play.
“When we are playing volleyball, I feel like we become so much closer and know about each other more and more every day,” Jinowat said.

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