Some students are spending this holiday thousands of miles away from home on the campus of Upper Iowa University in the northeast Iowa town of Fayette. Upper Iowa coordinator for international education, Kit Klepinger, says the students will be on their own for a couple of weeks. She says the administrative offices closed December 23rd and won’t re-open until January 5th, so the students will be on their own.
The students will have cooking facilities available in their dorms, so they’ve picked up some staples to cook with. Klepinger says that with today’s technology the students have cellphones, e-mail, and instant messaging, so they are not totally out of touch with their families.
Klepinger says they try to celebrate the various holidays of international students as a way to share traditions. Things began in October with the Hindu Festival of Lights.
Klepinger says they have a large Nepal and Indian population and they were able to share some of their foods with others, they didn’t do anything in November, but in December celebrated with Venezuelan country showcase, and in January the Chinese and Korean students will help celebrate the New Year. Klepinger says they try to make the students feel a little more at home in the rural Iowa setting.
Klepinger says they still live in a very homogenous area because of the farming community, but says percentage wise they have one of the largest minority populations. She says sports teams and international programs help bring in students from all over the world.
Klepinger says they have around 30 international students and some of the students are taking short trips to New York or elsewhere within the states, but they’re doing what they can to make the holiday period interesting for those who stay on campus.