This fall, our international student club called Bridges organized a hiking club. While Kansas is not a destination state for hiking, we found some remarkably beautiful places. If you have never hiked on a prairie, then you are missing something really special.
Our first hike was to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is just south of Council Grove, Kansas, in case you were wondering. We started in the late afternoon because we wanted to see the sunset across the wide prairie sky. We were not disappointed. We ate our snacks on the top of a hill and watched as the sky turned colors of pink and purple and then grew dark. In the end, the heavens were lit with stars. The first wonder is the marvelous beauty surrounding us.
The second wonder is the conversations that arise on a hike. I heard stories about wedding traditions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Columbia. I learned about the political turmoil surrounding Kashmir and India. Another student explained his perspective about Hinduism, Buddhism, and the caste system. And in-between was a lot of good-natured joking and teasing.
There are many ways to help international students feel welcome in the U.S: English conversation clubs, dinners in homes, and giving rides to stores and airports are among the many. But enjoying the out of doors together has to be at the top of my list of pleasurable things to do with international students. It combines beauty, conversation, and friendship. Please join us!