On January 16th, Bryan College’s Outreach Team hosted ‘International Voices’, a panel dedicated to showcasing the thoughts and experiences of multicultural students. Panelists included Jesus Astudillo, a senior from Caracas, Venezuela; Daniella Banda, a junior from Harare, Zimbabwe; and Wade Weinburger, a senior from James Cistern, Bahamas. Graduate Assistant of Short-Term Missions, Michaela Thomas, served as the moderator.
When asked why the Outreach Team chose to host the event, Thomas stated, “There is a lot of talk about crossing bridges and connecting groups on campus, but few strides are actually taken to accomplish that. This event is an action step towards making Bryan an all-inclusive campus.”
All three students shared their experiences at Bryan over the course of an hour and a half, discussing the transition from their home country to America, misconceptions surrounding their culture, and how the Bryan community can better support its international students. In addition to their studies, all three members of the panel were also able to discuss their unique experiences as international athletes; Weinburger and Astudillo are varsity baseball players, and Banda is a member of the golf team. Weinburger reflected on the baseball team’s efforts to attend campus-wide events, and challenged the crowd to reciprocate the support by attending athletic games.
The three students kept the crowd of fifty attendees entertained with stories about their first experiences in different cultures, American expressions they find strange, and aspects of their home that they miss at Bryan. The panelists carried on conversation with several students even after the end of the event. “It is very meaningful when people are intentional about knowing your story and how it has molded your journey,” Banda remarked. “I am grateful that Michaela pushed through with this idea and asked me to be on the panel. I’m excited for more events that are focused on celebrating the diversity and various cultures we have on campus.”
Pictures provided by Daniella Banda.