LIMA — As the University of Northwestern Ohio has grown, so has its reach beyond our shores. That was evident at this year’s International Day at the UNOH Event Center, featuring students from around the globe sharing sights, sounds and even tastes of the land they call home.
Along with hosting Elida elementary school pupils to have games and other activities meant to showcase other languages and cultures, international students staffed booths showcasing all their native cultures had to offer. A tradition going back nearly 20 years, the event has grown to feature a wider array of nations.
“Last year, we had about 22 countries represented,” UNOH International Student Adviser Simon Gonzalez said. “This year, we have over 30 countries. And just this past summer, our international student population grew from 120 up to 180 students, and we have 48 countries represented on campus.”
The event not only allows for a celebration of one’s own culture, but also a chance to learn about other nations and traditions. For instance, early in the event, students from New Zealand held demonstrations of how to play rugby, a popular sport in the multi-island nation.
“I always enjoy participating in this activity because you don’t only learn in the classroom, but you learn all the time,” Gonzalez, a native of Venezuela, said. “There are many things you think you know about a country and many preconceptions, and this is a great opportunity to speak with people from other countries and share similarities and differences.”
Staffing the Sweden booth were freshman soccer players Fredrik Mansson and Ludvig Hordegard. Both said that while Swedes may not be overtly patriotic by nature at home, there is a sense of pride in being able to represent your country at events such as this.
“When you’re such a long way from home, you feel proud to represent it to others,” Hordegard said.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.