Last Saturday we had the first snowfall in Minnesota! We had about 7 inches (17.8 centimeters!) of snow where I live. Despite the snowstorm, I ventured out to the mall with my nephew and my cousin who I had promised to take to the mall last Saturday! Fun times:)
Today I want to talk about the multidimensionality of my experience as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. I hope some of this helps you to get a glimpse of my opinion about the cultural diversity of the graduate student body at the U of M.
As an international student who has lived in the United States for six years, there are many ways that I define myself, and some of these may seem contradictory. However, If I had to choose one way to define myself I would say I am an African student. I think African student defines not only who I am physically but also my values, my lifestyle, and my academic interests. For example, I believe in the importance of humility and gratitude, I shop in both American and African grocery stores, and my academic interests are infectious disease prevention and health behavior in developing countries. There are a plethora of academic courses, presentations, and community activities that address these topics at the U and especially at the School of Public Health.
My experience as a student further enriches my identity by exposing me to the diverse perspectives about the African continent that I may not have come across if I did not immerse myself in a different setting. As an international student at U, I have more pride in my identity and cultural roots perhaps because I am far away from home.
As an African student, it is only natural that I will enjoy the company of other African students. There are many social resources that support the lives of the African students at the U, but the one I enjoy the most is the Black Graduate and Professional Students Assembly, BGAPSA. This is a great group of multicultural students from various graduate programs. It is a great opportunity to meet other African students, to eat amazing African cuisine, to hear about each others' research, and to dance to African music! I look forward to these events every once or twice a month. In addition to BGAPSA, I am part of the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Development (IPID) Project, which is a newly formed student initiative linking graduate students, scholars, and practitioners with interests in development. This group is a forum to meet with students from different graduate programs to discuss issues of international development especially those that happen in the African continent. IPID organizes social events for students to socialize as well.
I feel that my studies at the U enrich my identity and vice-versa. There are other multicultural student organizations that students are part of and you can find out more about these at the Graduate School website.
Apply today to be part of the diverse experience at the U of M!