The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Students break in Grinnell

By Lisa Oyolu

Although most Grinnellians were able to make it home during winter break, some students stayed on campus for a variety of reasons. Many of the students who remained on campus did so due to sports commitments, high cost of traveling home or having work on campus or in town.

For Yimin Wu ’17, a Chinese international student, the break allowed him to experience Christmas and American New Year’s, holidays that he had celebrated before in China, but far differently from the way they are celebrated in the U.S. He also felt that staying for break gave him the opportunity to experience Midwestern American life apart from just life as a Grinnell College student.

“I prefer to think that I am more than a student here, because I think a student just studies, and actually, for winter break, I led a life here more than just studying,” Wu said.
Because students like Wu were on campus over break, the College made great efforts to best accommodate them. The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) and other organizations on campus including the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ) and Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS), as well as groups around town, hosted many activities for students, such as community meals, a shopping trip to Des Moines and get-togethers at the homes of College faulty and staff.

Winter Break - Contributed
Photo contributed.

Although some scheduled activities, including a trip to the zoo, had to be cancelled because of severe weather, students still enjoyed the unique opportunities to get to know the College, its faculty and staff and the town. Many felt being able to attend the homes of staff helped cultivate and solidify relationships with them and fellow students, as well as to view life at Grinnell from the perspective of residents of the town.

In addition to these gatherings, for Wu, one of the highlights of the break was going skiing for the first time.

“[Many of the us] didn’t know how to ski at the very beginning, so we had some instructional courses from the staff there,” Wu said.

Although Wu did not explore the town very much during break, he still felt more like he was a resident of the town. In contrast, Jaclyn Mukinisha ’16, a Rwandan international student, enjoyed going into Grinnell’s downtown to enjoy her favorite restaurants with friends.

“It was still like being a Grinnellian,” Mukinisha said.
She also enjoyed meeting a few more members of the Grinnell community over meals and learning more about different types of things to do in Grinnell, such as horseback riding and collecting eggs on a farm.

In addition to the activities which OISA planned, Wu stated, “I went shopping—mostly for groceries—and I watched lots of TV. Also, I prepared a little bit for this semester.”
Thus, in many ways, the students who stayed on campus experienced a break that was not too different from students who went home.

Although Wu and Mukinisha were both on campus for most of winter break, both were also able to explore beyond the boundaries of the Grinnell campus. Wu visited Chicago for four days, while Mukinisha spent some time with her host family, as well as a friend’s host family.

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