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Food for Thought offers insight to unique perspectives

From left, Jhonbert Gonzalez, Anna Brown, Raquel Cunha, Ula Parrish, Gana Hooker and Meihua Cui participate in a Food for Thought panel discussion where they shared their experiences of being an immigrant in the United States. Joshua Detherage, far right, instructor in English as a Second Language and Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language, moderated the panel discussion. (Campbellsville University Photo by Avary Randall)

By Avary Randall, student news writer, Office of Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Struggles immigrants experience while living in a new country and adapting to a different culture were discussed at a recent Campbellsville University Food for Thought event.

Six panelists shared similar experiences of being an immigrant in the United States, including four Campbellsville University graduates: Anna Brown, from Russia; Meihua Cui, from China; Jhonbert Gonzalez, of Venezuela; and Ula Parrish, from Poland. Other panelists with Raquel Cunha, director of English as a Second Language at Campbellsville University, from Brazil and Gana Hooker from Mongolia, who is married to Dr. Tim Hooker, instructor of international studies at Campbellsville University.

Each of them spoke about their personal lives in America, and how being an immigrant impacted them. The discussion ranged from what their expectations were coming to America, what surprised them the most, what they thought about the cuisine and more.

Faith Wilson, a Campbellsville University student, attended the event and asked what the hardest thing was about coming to the United States.

Brown said, “I guess the language and trying to fit with the rest of the culture here was the hardest. Whether it was fitting into American culture, and trying to respect everyone, or changing your personality to be more warm and bubbly was different from back in Russia.”

Graduate Programs Administrative Assistant Joshua Boone asked if Brown ever felt targeted about the war with Russia and Ukraine.

Brown said, “I do feel timid about sharing my opinion on the war and the situation happening right now because I don’t know if it’s going to align with yours. I don’t how you’re going to react to it. I will share it with you, but I will be guarded.”

Gonzalez said, “I am from a communist country and many people ask how you guys put up with that. But the political aspect is a sensitive topic, and I think people should wait for that person to open up to them before pushing it.”

 Food for thought was hosted by Joshua Detherage, the English as a Second Language and Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language instructor.

Detherage said, “I was hopeful that the variety in panelists would provide the discussion with a wealth of different experiences and unique perspectives which I think it did.

“I hope everyone learned something that will make them think more deeply when interacting with people from other countries, whether students or permanent residents.”

The event was personally touching for Wilson. She said, “We walk among the internationals, eat with them, live with them, work with them, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about them because they are people too.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, master, bachelor, associate and certificate programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.