1. Name: Nyarie Sirewu
2. Year: Sophomore
3. Major: Public health and international development studies
4. Country of Origin: Zimbabwe
Please describe aspects of your culture that are different from the United States.
I think one of the biggest cultural differences is small talk. At first, I was really confused as to why someone would say hi to me and then not stop to talk. I also quickly learned that, when someone asks how you're doing when they meet you in a path somewhere, they are just being polite and do not actually want to know how you are doing. Just a quick hi would be nice. Back home, people don't really engage in small talk. People stop and actually talk to you, and it's more genuine. Secondly I feel like the relationship between kids (college students included) and adults is another big difference. In Zimbabwe, we are brought up to be very respectful to older people whether or not you know them. I also think that our parent-child relationships are so different. I observe people at the mall and think, “There’s no way I could ever say that to my mum and stay alive!”
What do you miss from home?
I miss my family so much!
What’s hard about living so far away?
The hard thing about the distance is that I can't just go home when I want. I also can't even talk to them whenever I want since there is such a large time difference.
What do you feel Calvin College and its student body do well with being inclusive and culturally respectful?
I think that Calvin College really tries to educate people about racial and cultural differences in an inclusive manner. In terms of being respectful, I like that Calvin College and the student body are very open to those who want to present something from their country to the whole college.
Have you ever felt left out or not included based on your culture?
Sometimes I do kind of feel left out. When people say Africa, everyone else assumes Nigeria or Ghana, because those are the most represented countries in Africa here at Calvin. However, the culture of these countries couldn't be more different from my own than Korean culture. I also feel like people should know that 'African' is not a nationality. We don't call students from Germany ‘Europeans,' and I think we owe Africans the same courtesy. I would like people to know that we're not all from the same place. Our stories are different.