Kent State Stark International Students Join in Boo U Celebration
Ruyi Jiao was not thinking about Halloween when she traveled from Beijing, China, to study English at Kent State University at Stark. Still, she made sure to represent her home country, donning a traditional Chinese costume she purchased on eBay.
“It’s important we represent China,” says Ms. Jiao, who goes by the American name “Elena” this semester as she participates in Kent State Stark’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. “Some people are very curious about China, and we want people to learn about China just as we learn about America.”
Bringing the world to Stark County, Ohio, Ms. Jiao is one of 34 international students taking courses at Kent State Stark this fall. The group recently celebrated Halloween for the first time, participating in the campus’s ninth annual Boo U event.
Ms. Jiao and her fellow international students, including Xing Yang “Raelynn” and Yuqian Xu “Rachel,” passed out handfuls of candy to children and posed for photos with local families.
“It is very colorful,” says Ms. Yang of Xi’an, China. “I would not have thought of Halloween as dressing up as a dinosaur or a princess.”
Designed as an educational fall celebration for elementary school-aged children, Boo U invites community members to explore Kent State Stark’s beautiful, 200-acre campus. Children trick or treat while participating in learning activities at stations manned by student leaders. During the “Swamp Walk,” families are invited to tour the pond and learn about wetland research.
“Boo U is just one of many programs that expose international students to U.S. customs and traditions,” says Sarah Schmidt, outreach coordinator for Kent State Stark’s Office of Global Initiatives. “As our international students engage with the Kent State Stark campus community, a reciprocal exchange occurs — we have the benefit of learning about Chinese culture and diversifying the viewpoints and experiences on campus.
“The concept of global citizenship hinges on authentic cultural exchanges, which is what the Stark ESL program fosters,” Ms. Schmidt adds.