Kent State Kindness Warms International Students' Heads - and Hearts

A Kent State staffer's aunt helped students from Rwanda feel welcomed and warm in their first winter in Ohio

If you're going to be experiencing winter – and snow – for the first time in your life, you're going to need the right gear.

A group of students from Rwanda's National Police College came to study at Kent State University this fall. Over the summer, they had met Bob Christy, senior photography coordinator for the Division of University Communications and Marketing, when he visited Rwanda as part of a university team attending a global peace conference

When the students came to Ohio, Christy and his wife Mindy welcomed them into their home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

Kent State welcomes students from more than 100 countries around the world to our campuses. International students gain the experience of attending a top-ranked U.S. university while all Kent State students, faculty and staff benefit through interacting with students from other cultures and countries in a truly global campus community. 

Rwandan students display their flag - and their blue and gold cold weather gear - at Golden Flashes mens basketball International Night
Rwandan students display their flag – and show off their blue and gold cold weather gear – at Golden Flashes men's basketball International Night.

Photos by Bob Christy, senior photography coordinator, University Communications and Marketing

Mindy Christy told her aunt, Mala Payton about these visiting students and how it would be their very first time experiencing winter – and snow – in northeast Ohio. So Payton, who is a resident of Country Club Retirement Campus in Dover, Ohio, mobilized her knitting group to create hats and scarves – in blue and gold – to help these students weather the cold at Kent State.

'What an amazing story!'

Pacifique Niyonzima works as Kent State's program manager for sub-Saharan Africa in the Kent State Center in Rwanda and Africa. He knows these students personally and was key in helping them travel to Ohio for graduate studies at Kent State. 

Four staff members from the National Police College in Rwanda have begun their studies as graduate students at Kent State University this semester.


When he heard about this act of kindness and saw these photos, Niyonzima said, "Yes, what an amazing story! You have no idea how your warm hospitality made them feel. This is why the Rwandan National Police College wants to send more students to Kent State. I will share this story with the leadership at the college."

Watch these students from Rwanda experiencing snow for the first time.


POSTED: Tuesday, February 6, 2024 11:48 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 04:31 PM
Phil B. Soencksen