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Diversity on OU Tennis

By Rodney Latham
On April 18, 2018

Photo by: Rodney Latham 

College has become an avenue for students to meet people from around the country. If lucky enough, you’ll be able to meet some international students who bring a different cultural knowledge to the table.

Ottawa’s tennis team is one of the most diverse teams on campus and I was intrigued to find out their backstories.

Between both men and women’s teams, nine of the fourteen players are international students spanning all across the globe.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alejandro Romero (Colombia), Allison Corfield (Australia), Bruna Pacheco (Brazil), Karlo Skvorc (Croatia), Keiran President (Saint Lucia), Lukas Michenka (Czech Republic), Mekasha Tadious (Sweden), Rhian Shepherd (Australia), Ronald Rufyikiri Muheto (Burnudi, Africa).

One of the first things I noticed about this team was how comfortable they were around each other. It was like watching a family the way they interacted with one another.

As they began to speak I realized they came together and bonded over similar experiences of being away from home.

For the most part, the team seem to be enjoying their time here in America. Being able to continue their careers in tennis and further their education has led them to our small community.

However, being so far away from home comes with its ‘cons,’ such as having to deal with time zone differences and long flights.

For Rhian, she stated, “Its terrible, my flight home is 23 hours. When I wanna call home its night here and morning there. So, I have to stay up just to tell my mum morning.”

Apps like FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp go a long way to break the communication barrier the distance from home creates.

Now one of the questions I posed was “What are some of the crazy things you have heard while being here on campus?”

Bruna was once asked, “Do you speak Brazilian?” Bruna chuckled and clarified Portuguese is the native language of Brazil.

Allison, native to Australia, was also welcomed by a few stereotypical quotes such as “good day mate” and “gonna put a shrimp on the barbie.”

But not all is bad here, some people have been very helpful. For Lukas, native Croatian, “certain people hear my accent and notice I don’t understand certain things and take their time to teach me.”

Seeing the entire team interact like a family I had to ask one closing question, “Do you think you guys will keep in touch once you go your separate ways?”

They collectively agreed that they know they are lying to themselves about visiting one another, but with today’s social media they’ll be able stay part of each other’s lives.

To this group of interesting individuals, I just wanted to say thank you for welcoming me into your select group. If you have the chance to meet any of these individuals I suggest soak up as much information as you can from a different perspective.




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