Celebrating World Student Day, University of Windsor business student Shahab Taheri performs a traditional Kurdish dance on July 26, 2019. He was joined by dozens of other international and local students during the festivities at the U of Windsor’s Wilson Commons.
Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star
Although Eric Kemta Kenge spoke fluent English and French at his home in Cameroon, he cited language barriers and culture shock as some of the hurdles he faced when he moved to North America to study mathematics.“I grew up speaking English, but when I arrived in the U.S. the accent was not the same,” Kemta Kenge said of one of his first challenges as an international student. “In class, I would not hear what the professor was saying, the professor and the students would not hear what I was saying — even though we spoke the same language.”When Kemta Kenge first moved to Virginia for his undergrad studies he would watch the news daily, repeating after journalists to fine-tune his accent and said the way people interacted was very different. He later moved from the U.S. to Toronto and is now a master’s student at the University of Windsor studying human kinetics.Friday marked World Student Day, with universities across the country celebrating the importance of international students and English language learners to a campus community, and the University of Windsor joined the recognition with an event at the David A. Willson Commons.“As an international student you leave your country alone and you’re coming to a new country,” Kemta Kenge said. “You don’t know who you’ll find there, you don’t know what to expect, you have no idea what lies ahead of you.”The day saw students connecting and celebrating different cultures through performances of traditional Kurdish, Arabic and Indian dance — many students jumped on stage and joined in — and games. EPICentre director Wen Teoh, who started her career as an international student, was a guest speaker.“We easily understand each other, we can easily connect, and it exposes us even further to different cultures,” Kemta Kenge said of the event. “It’s very comforting for international students and very eyeopening — we get to learn so much in one sitting.”
University of Windsor business student Shahab Taheri, left, leads fellow students in a traditional Kurdish dance Friday as the local university helped celebrate World Student Day.
Nick Brancaccio /
Kemta Kenge was also on a panel where students discussed their journey as international students. When asked about their favourite food experiences, two students noted Canadian mainstays — poutine and Tim Hortons, including the double-double.“It’s just a great opportunity for students to know that they belong here. They’ve come from all over the globe,” said university interim President and vice-chancellor Douglas Kneale. “Overall, this coming September, we will be about 24-per-cent international, which is great, and we love that diversity — cultural and intellectual diversity.”Anouchka Plumb, manager of language programs for continuing education, said the day was important to have fun together and bridge cultural gaps.“There is a common thread among all of us, it’s the will to want to be better, to want to learn,” she said.Related
Plumb said the celebration allowed the opportunity to carve out time to recognize everyone’s contributions to daily campus experiences.“Different perspectives, that’s really the biggest gift,” she said. “If we’re able to look at certain situations from different perspectives that’s what really contributes to living conditions, to the economy, just to the community on a whole.”firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Windsor mascot Winston joined the dancing Friday during a local celebration of World Student Day.
Nick Brancaccio /