International students bring diversity to campus

Isobel Parish

The world is much larger than Ohio, and although Kent is full of proud locals, there are many flavors of other cultures dotted all around campus.

This year, freshman Mengqi Zhang embarked on the chance of a lifetime and travelled to Kent from China to pursue her studies in chemistry.

Having never been to the United States, Zhang said she was immediately thrown in to the American culture when she arrived on Aug. 20.

Zhang was the only one of her classmates to make the trip, but said she has met many other Chinese students studying on campus who live relatively close to her dorm.

“I behave like an American student, but people treat me different,” Zhang said. “People don’t mean to, but I know it is because I am Asian.”

She added that there are both good and bad aspects to this, but admitted she likes the feeling of being unique.

Zhang is always willing to share about her life in China. She recently talked to her Honors Colloquium class about growing up in China in a discussion about Carl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto.”

Zhang said she especially misses the food and selection of fresh ingredients from home.

“I eat a lot of raw vegetables,” she said.

Visiting Acme for fresh produce helps her keep in touch with home and away from Rosie’s late-night pizza.

Freshman biology major Arooj Siddiqui also adds to the international flavor at Kent. Although she was born in the United States, her parents originally moved from Pakistan.

“Most people think I’m Indian,” Siddiqui said. However, she said that doesn’t mind correcting them, telling them she’s Islamic.

Siddiqui chooses not to wear the traditional headdress most Muslim women wear. Siddiqui was born in America so she shares many common qualities with the average college student.

However, Siddiqui prays five times a day under Islamic practices and celebrates a number of holidays unique to her heritage.

Ramadan occurred this year from early August through Sept. 9. It is a month of fasting from dawn until sunset and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility and spirituality. Ramadan is intended to be a purifying celebration achieved through self-restraint.

After Ramadan, the Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated. Siddiqui also took part in this holiday where Muslims don their nicest clothing and donate food to the poor.

Siddiqui believes in the importance of sharing heritage with people from different nationalities and religious beliefs. She said, “It shows your own self-being and who you are.”

Contact Isobel Parish at [email protected].