The Office of International Programs sponsored The Cultural Experience. For the first presentation of the semester, freshman biology major, Aaron Diaz, presented on his home country, Costa Rica.
A few of the points presented by Diaz ranged from food, common slang and history. Diaz said that when it came to deciding what to present to students, he had a strategy.
“I wanted to show something that I have experienced and that I can... awake something in them. Just to know that you don’t have to go far away to experience things. Those are some strategic points that I used in order to do my presentation,” Diaz said.
During his presentation, Diaz mentioned that he attended University in Costa Rica. There, he studied translation. He wasn’t happy with his degree, so he came to the United States to study biology.
“I was doing really good but I was not enjoying what I was doing, so that’s why I came here and tried to do something different. From the 76 credit hours I got done in Costa Rica, six have transferred to SFA. It’s fine because I know that those hours were not in vain, because that has helped me with my English and with my understanding and stuff,” Diaz said.
While his time in Costa Rica, Diaz worked on mission trips as a translator with the indigenous cultures of Maleku and Brunca.
“I worked with two different indigenous cultures. That’s something that’s really big. Costa Rica is not trying to put them away, just bring them, but not to delete their traditions. They don’t have an ID, they don’t have a social security number because that is not a part of who they are. The government has tried to bring them but if they do that, they’re just brought into the cities and they’re not going to keep their cultures, because otherwise they’ll be eradicated really quick,” Diaz said.
Heather Catton, director of international programs, said that the Cultural Experience is held as an opportunity for international students to introduce themselves to the SFA and Nacogdoches community.
“You see Aaron, you might not know he’s from Costa Rica. You might think he’s from Houston. It’s an opportunity for students to meet each other.”
One thing that Catton didn’t know before the presentation was that there are mountains in Costa Rica.
“Sharing cultures is important,” Catton said. “Each culture has really interesting differences, but to see the similarities and be able to understand each other a little better and learn fun things from different countries.”
Catton is also the advisor of the International Student Association.
“It was originally created to give international students a voice at the University,” Catton said.” If they had concerns that they wanted to bring to the administration so they could meet together and discuss. But, it’s developed into a social and activities club where international students and American students can do events together.”
The organization has done fashion shows, food events and have taken trips to international festivals.
Some concerns that Catton has heard from International students include adapting to the University.
“They do have trouble connecting with local students sometimes, just because maybe the way that friendships form in their own countries is a little bit different, so they sometimes have some difficulty getting a group of friends,” Catton said. “Having students from different countries together makes it a little bit easier, so they don’t feel as isolated.”
There are about 120 international students on campus. Catton said that she hopes to make them more visible through The Cultural Experience.
The next The Cultural Experience will be held on 4 p.m. Feb 25 in the Ferguson building in room 371 and will be over Nigeria.