International Students Bring Passion for the Arts to Kent State

They brought their passion and gift of music 2,500 miles from Colombia, South America, to Kent State University.

Together, the four chamber music graduate students from the School of Music in Kent State’s College of the Arts, make up the Tierradentro String Quartet.

They are part of a growing number of international students on campus – now totaling 3,000 from more than 100 countries.


“We are so happy to have this opportunity,” says Alejandro Luengas, who plays violin for Tierradentro.

As they adjust to a new culture, they are learning a new language, tasting new foods and growing new skills.

“You have lots of practice and lots of classes,” says Luisa Varón, violist for the group. “It’s very good because every day you are learning a lot.”

And it is not just about music, but about campus life in the United States and the generosity of Kent State donors for scholarships.

“They have a board of people who donate money, and that’s not really common in Colombia,” says Daniela Arias, who plays violin in the quartet.

“The quality of the professors and the quality of the people who are always looking to know how you are doing and how to help you,” says cellist Ariel Londoño.

It is that same welcoming spirit that Leo Lei has known for the past three years. As a graduate student from China, Lei is studying lighting design in Kent State’s School of Theatre and Dance.

As he gets closer to his dream of working on Broadway, Lei has advice for future international students who might be a little shy.

“Open your mouth and speak,” Lei says. “Everybody here is trying to help. The community here is really friendly and willing to help.”

Whether it is theatre, music or another area of study, these students say they are grateful for all they are learning at Kent State, and hope to share it one day in their native countries.

Learn more about Kent State's School of Music

POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2015 09:08 AM
UPDATED: Thursday, December 08, 2022 03:34 PM