Members of the Perkins community had the chance to meet international students at a special Community Hour at Perkins (CHAP) on September 15. Six international students introduced themselves to the two dozen people in attendance via Zoom.
Alice Bonareri Ondieki, a returning student from Kenya, is pursuing her MTS. Ondieki, who is visually impaired, expressed her appreciation to members of the Perkins community for “showing us that you’re our sisters and brothers, and our moms and dads.”
Soo Hyun Suh hails from South Korea. Her two daughters, Grace and Emma, ages 15 and 13, popped into the Zoom to say hello.
Charles Kitua is from Kenya but living in Kansas with his three boys and his wife, Sketer Riungu, a Perkins alum, who is serving a church there.
Benjamin Chimwenga Simba is an ordained minister in Kenya who served as a Methodist bishop from 2015-2018. “I’m happy to be here, but I plan to go back and give back to the community in my home country,” he said.
Faith Mukami Kubai is a returning M.T.S. student from Kenya, a mother of two, and also an ordained minister in the Methodist Church in Kenya.
On the day of the CHAP, Stella Eunbyul Cho celebrated her birthday. She joins the Perkins community from South Korea, following in the footsteps of her brother, JaeJun “Daniel” Cho, also a current student. Stella shared that her Korean name, Eunbyul, means “good star.”
Several faculty and staff members introduced themselves and shared their international experiences. Laura Figura, a former French teacher, donned a beret and offered to speak French with anyone who’d like to converse. Leslie Fuller described her time working and studying in Kenya and earning her master’s degree in the U.K. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner lived in Oxford and worked with Oxfam; Sze-kar Wan had just returned from a sabbatical in Taiwan. Hugo Magallanes, who is from Mexico, expressed his appreciation for the ways that “international students bring an international flavor to our coursework.”
The students also got an introduction to a topic that incited a very lively American debate: barbecue. Wes Allen asserted the superiority of the Alabama variety (“Barbecue comes from a pig!”) and others argued the merits of barbecue from North Carolina (made with vinegar) and Tennessee. In the Texas camp, Rhonda Chambers touted the superiority of authentic Texas smoked brisket. Chuck Aaron concluded the debate with a diplomatic compromise, stating that he “will eat all barbecue, wherever I’m at.”