International Student Reaches New Heights

The Office of Global Education and Study Abroad is pleased to republish this article from The Record about one of our international students, Gui Guimarães, who is studying abroad by earning his bachelor’s degree here on the Hill.

International Student Reaches New Heights
By Karen E. Huggard

Gui-TN Through a translator at a youth basketball clinic in Brazil, Guilherme “Gui” Guimarães ’18 and his parents received an offer for the then 17-year-old to finish high school and play basketball in United States. The catch? He had only two weeks to make the decision, secure a visa, and get himself 4,500 miles to Charlottesville, Virginia. The other catch? He spoke almost no English. With little deliberation, however, Gui remembers, “I went with the moment, packed my bags and my dreams, and headed to America.”

The journey itself was not without drama. A mix-up with his paperwork meant that Gui spent his first few hours in America in an immigration holding room at Dulles Airport. Unable to understand the agents and unsure what he was missing, Gui sat in a room crowded with crying people until his new high school supplied the correct information for his visa. He arrived in Charlottesville late that night, only to attend his first class—U.S. History—early the next morning.

Within four months of that confusing first day, the six-foot-eight Brazilian was writing essays and joking with his teammates in English. Asked how he mastered the language so quickly, Gui replies, “First of all, I had no other choice. When everything around you is in a foreign language, you have to learn it. Second, I’m an extrovert—I wanted to talk to people!” His two years at the Miller School, a boarding school with a welcoming and warm environment, prepared Gui well for college studies in the U.S.

When the time came, however, he found himself without the financial resources to attend an American university, until his first interaction with Hampden-Sydney’s alumni network came in the form of the Davis Fellowship.

Established by Norwood ’63 and Marguerite Davis, the scholarship offered Gui a ray of hope, but he never imagined that he would be chosen. In fact, he was back in Brazil when Hampden-Sydney GuiBballrequested an in-person interview, so once again he made last-minute arrangements to fly to Virginia. Honored by his acceptance as a Davis Fellow, Gui has approached all of his many activities at Hampden-Sydney with enthusiasm, excellence, and a strong competitive streak.
On the basketball court, Gui has started in 43 games over two years, averaging a 58% shooting percentage his sophomore year. Because of his athletic skill and leadership, he was named team captain this season.

In the classroom, the chemistry major’s academic achievements have led to multiple awards and recognitions. At Opening Convocation 2015, Gui received the Omicron Delta Kappa Award for academic achievement and constructive leadership; at Opening Convocation 2016, he received the President’s Award for Scholarship and Character. He is a Patrick Henry Scholar and has been inducted into both the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society and the Chi Beta Phi national science honor society.

Around campus, Gui says he “tries to inspire excellence in others.” In pursuit of that goal, he serves as a Resident Advisor and a member of the Student Court. “R.A.s are the first people freshmen see when they arrive on campus, so I know I’m a role model.” He appreciates the fact that “at H-SC, students get rewarded for doing the right thing. There is an incentive to be a man of character because people are watching.”

Gui33Gui also appreciates the College’s strong alumni network. Twice he GuiTorchhas received the Roy B. Sears ’42 Endowment for Student Internships, which he used to pursue both of his passions, chemistry and basketball. He is grateful to Rob Geiger ’94 for an internship at AmbioPharm the summer after his freshman year, where he saw firsthand what he can do with a chemistry degree. This past summer he taught basketball in his native city of Ribeirão Preto, coaching 5 to 7-year-olds during the day and 15 to 17-year-olds in the evening. It also meant the opportunity to see his native country gear up for the 2016 Olympic Games, and a chance to carry the Olympic torch when it traveled through his hometown on its way to Rio. As an R.A., he had to return to H-SC before the games began, but he is proud of Brazil’s efforts as host country.

Although he isn’t sure what the future holds, Gui knows in some way it will involve taking what he has learned at Hampden-Sydney—as a chemist, an athlete, a leader, and a citizen—back home to make a positive impact in Brazil.

International Club Celebrates Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

By Nay Min Oo ‘12

The International Club celebrated on October 7th the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the biggest festivals in China.  More than 80 students, faculty, and staff attended the event at Crawley Forum. Among them were Eric Dinmore, Assistant Professor of History, and Dr. J. Z. Zhao, Assistant Professor of Economics.

The celebration started with a video to introduce the Mid-Autumn Festival.  The Chinese have a special affection for the moon, and there are many stories about the Mid-Autumn Festival.  The most popular is the myth of Chang’e, the lady who lives on the moon with her rabbit.  On Mid-Autumn Day, millions of Chinese worship the Moon Lady.  In addition they hold family reunions.  Since a full moon represents the family, all the members will try to reach home on this day no matter how far apart they are.

Together, the family will enjoy the moon on a cloudless night and eat moon cakes—an essential and special feature of this festival.  The tradition of moon cakes started as the sacrificial offering to the moon and later became symbolic food.  The first slice of the moon cake is always offered to the oldest one in the family to show respect to the elders.  Although the general features of the Mid-Autumn Festival are the same, different regions have their own unique traditions.  The video also showed the process of making moon cakes.

After the video, Professor Anthony Zhang, Chinese Fulbright Scholar and professor of Chinese, led nine students from his class in reciting a traditional Chinese poem, “Shui Diao Ge Tou” (Thinking of You).  After the recitation, the students sang the poem as Professor Zhang played the piano.

Next, the Tai Yin Chinese Lion Dance team from Maryland performed the famous lion dance for the audience.  This performance was made possible by the generous help of Mladen Cvijanovic, Assistant Dean of Students for Intercultural Affairs.  The lion dance team consisted of five members who were passionate about this traditional Chinese art.  They first explained the history of the lion dance.  According to the myth, thousands of years ago, the Lion from the mountain would frequently go down to the villages and harm the livestock.  However, after confrontation with the villagers, the Lion became their friend and protector.  Therefore, to honor the Lion, people developed this highly acrobatic lion dance.

The lively music of drums and gongs and the energetic performance of the lion dance pumped up the atmosphere in Crawley Forum.  The audience gave a round of applause whenever the team performed a breathtakingly difficult move.  For example, very often the young man in front would jump in the air and land on his partner’s shoulders.

After the dance, the team also demonstrated Chinese Kung Fu such as Small Five Animal Fist, Big Five Animal Fist, Chinese Broad Sword, and Big Buddha Stick.  The audience was amazed at these moves, which had been seen only in the Kung Fu movies.

After a question-and-answer session, the performers taught the children present how to lion dance.

As the final part of the event, the organizers served moon cakes and refreshments.  All the guests left with a new understanding of another culture, the taste of delicious moon cakes in their mouths, and smiles on their faces.

International House Hold Open House

By Nay Min Oo ’12

On September 16, the International House continued its annual tradition of an Open House.  The event was a huge success with a turnout of more than a hundred enthusiastic guests including faculty, students, and staff who were eager for a taste of exotic Asian food.  The foods served at the event did not disappoint the guests as each was gone shortly after it was served. The specialties were Shan rice noodle, Kung Pao chicken, Chinese meat pies, spring rolls, stir-fried bean sprouts, fried rice, and Navajo fry bread.

The celebration started at 5:30 PM, and, as the first dish, my Shan noodle was presented to the guests. It is noodle soup with pork curry.  Shan noodle is very popular in Myanmar (Burma). Since my parents run a noodle shop back home, I had no difficulty making the family food. “We are noodle folk. Broth runs through our veins,” if I may quote from the movie, Kung Fu Panda.  The guests enjoyed the Shan noodle but commented that the serving was too big as they wanted to try other food as well. Luckily for Shihao Tian ’12 from China, I had reduced the serving size, so that the guests were able to enjoy his Kung Pao chicken, the glorious outcome of his decision to learn to cook during summer. Kung Pao chicken is fried with garlic, onion, cashews, and dry chili peppers.  Tian’s authentic specialty proved to be especially popular among the guests as two large bowls of chicken were gone in a very short time.

After Tian’s Kung Pao chicken, Professor Anthony Zhang (foreground), Chinese Fulbright Scholar and professor of Chinese, and Ke Shang ’13 from China served the highly-anticipated Chinese meat pies.  These meat pies were fried dumplings stuffed with a mix of grounded beef and vegetables.  The demand for the meat pies was very high among the guests.  Even after the event was over, there were still many people waiting about in the hope that there might be more these delicious pies.

Originally, we planned to serve only the above three dishes for the event as we anticipated no more than 50 people to show up.  In fact, more than a hundred guests showed up, and this unexpectedly large number pleasantly surprised the organizers.  To accommodate the greater number of the guests, we decided to cook more dishes—stir-fried bean sprouts, spring rolls, fried rice, and Navajo fry breads.  For the stir-fried bean sprouts, the duty fell into the hands of Tian, our main chef of the evening, who also impressed the people in the kitchen with his masterful pan-flipping skill.

Tan Le ’10 from Vietnam, President of International Club, cooked spring rolls and Vietnamese fried rice. Moreover, two American students, Alex Burner ’10 and Will Thomas ’11 contributed to the variety of food by making Navajo fry breads.  The Open House event finally closed at 8, an hour later than originally planned. Although the organizers, especially the chefs, were tired and hungry after the cookout, they were delighted with the success of the event.

This event showed the rising level of diversity and cultural awareness at Hampden-Sydney.  The Hampden-Sydney International House has contributed significantly to this higher level of awareness on campus. It is located in the Fraternity Circle between the Minority Student Union (MSU) and Women’s Guest House, and the house has an open door policy to everyone.

A Hampden-Sydney Man in Tiajuana

by Bryan Hicks ’06

You can do anything with a degree from Hampden-Sydney College.  That is only partially true; a Hampden-Sydney Man can do anything.  Along with eleven high school students and five other adults, I spent a week in Tijuana, Mexico, at the end of last July. During this week, we built a house and a retaining wall, and we also spent two of the days working at a local orphanage.  Working in the orphanage gave us the opportunity not only to work with the kids in the orphanage but also in the surrounding community.  The orphanage system in Mexico greatly differs from that in the United States.  The Mexican system runs under the one strike policy which means that if the government takes children from unfit parents, the children stay in the orphanage until they are 18.  As a result, many parents voluntarily turn their children over to the orphanage in the hope of retrieving them when the parents’ lives become more stable.  Although these children live in less than desirable situations, they have a tremendous spirit of hope as their lives in the orphanage are better than their lives would be in the community.

My experiences on “the Hill” enriched my time in Mexico.  I took with me the Hampden-Sydney tradition of saying “Hello” to everyone you pass.  A smile and the simple word “Hola” go a long way in attempting to cross the language barrier.  The other Hampden-Sydney experience that paid off in Tijuana was the numerous hours spent in Bagby Hall learning Spanish from Professor Iglesias.

On our second night, we visited a local area church to participate in worship. On the way home, our van got separated from the rest of the group and we found ourselves lost in downtown Tijuana.  I resorted to my Mesa de Español days in trying to pick out key terms in order to understand what was being said.  Although the only directions that I could make out from the man at the gas station were, “You need to ask the taxi driver at the Chinese restaurant,” we were still able to find our way back to the church where the rest of the group was waiting.

It is the liberal arts education that I have received at the College which makes life outside of these gates so promising.  An example of this promise is my brother Justin, a 2003 graduate and the youth minister of the church whose members went to Mexico.  It is the experiences in and out of the classroom and the knowledge of broad and diverse topics that allows one to thrive in the world.  The ability to understand the struggles people are facing because of NAFTA, the ability to communicate with those of a foreign country, and the ability to be an example of a “good man and good citizen” are all things that come with studying on “the Hill.”  It is not the degree he receives that makes a Hampden-Sydney Man, it is the experiences he receives while earning that degree that prepares him for the future.

July 2006

Gibson meets the Iron Lady

In the summer of 2002, John David Gibson ’03 interned for the United States Studies Institute within the University of London. The program has around 30 students and seven professors. Subjects focus on American politics, history, and economics. His work involved contacting American universities and spreading the word about the program.

He also attended many of the seminars held by the Institute. Professors from several universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, gave lectures on various topics including the relationship between America and Great Britain and on America’s foreign policy after September 11. 

According to John David, “To my surprise, I learned that Lady Thatcher had been the sponsor of the program for 11 years. She retired this summer and the institute held a celebration in her honor. I had the privilege of not only to meet her but also to discuss her relationship with Ronald Reagan, the potential of war with Iraq, and how beautiful she thinks Virginia is.”

International Week

For “International Week,” November 11 – 17, President Walter Bortz and Mrs. Bortz hosted a dinner at their home, Middlecourt, on Monday, November 12, for the 15 students who attended semester and year abroad programs in 2000-2001.  Students had the opportunity to talk directly to the President about their abroad experiences and for him to hear first-hand some of the wonderful stories. (See “An Incredible Experience,” )

Sharon Sercombe, H-SC Coordinator of International Studies, was part of the panel that discussed “International Exchange” on Wednesday, November 14, at Longwood College in nearby Farmville.

An incredible experience

On September 6, many of the nearly 60 Hampden-Sydney students who had engaged in international study during the past year gathered to talk about their experiences.

Most frequently used expressions: “I would go back in a heart beat,” “It was good for me,” “I made great friends,” “It made me appreciate Hampden-Sydney.” Consensus: the food was so, so; it rains a great deal in the British Isles, much beer and wine was consumed; we learned a lot, and it was an incredible experience.

For Hampden-Sydney students who grew up in small towns, one of the greatest adjustments was to city life. During a metro strike in Paris, David Price ’02 from Collinsville, VA, who was with the Sweet Briar Program, had to walk two and half hours to class. “Really, once you get to understand how the French think and what their ideas are and what their customs are, they are very nice people, and I made numerous friends.”

For Edward Finnerty ’02 from Charleston, SC, Dublin was a challenge. Good public transportation is nonexistent, “everyday something happened, but you just had to laugh.” Despite the municipal shortcomings, Teddy, who studied psychology at Trinity College, asserts that in Dublin, “every night was a brand new experience; it was really fun. Anybody our age should definitely go there…just to witness the madness.”

Logan Wanamaker ’02 spent a year in Granada. He stayed with a host family for the first semester. “It was a little overwhelming when they picked me up and drove me into the city; I am from a small town [Durango, CO] and had never lived in a city.” Second semester, Logan lived in an apartment downtown with two young Italian women and two young Spanish women, which was “a big switch from Hampden-Sydney. First semester I got in a rut and I was hanging out with Americans and going out with Americans but once I moved in with my other roommates, my Spanish really took off.” He spent free days on the beach at la Costa del Sol and on weekends went skiing in the Sierra Nevada. “I brought my skis over and made great friends up at the ski resort, so I had buddies that I got to go skiing with. To have something that you really enjoy to share with someone from another country was really special to me.” He traveled all over Spain, to southern Portugal, Morocco, into the Sahara by camel to Marrakech, to Majorca, and through the Basque country. “Now when I look at a map of Spain I know what every town looks like and all the history behind it. It was an incredible experience.”

McKay Johnson ’02 from Atlanta, GA, studied international business at the University of Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. He traveled all over New Zealand, which is “absolutely beautiful, very green, mountains everywhere.” The New Zealanders call hiking tramping, and McKay did plenty of tramping. The study was initiative based. There were no textbooks; it was up to you how much you learned, and people there study “real hard.” The New Zealanders are “absolutely great people, friendly, real nice.” He encountered the indigenous Moari culture that, although poorly treated in the beginning, the New Zealanders did not try to exterminate them as was done to the indigenous populations in the United States and Australia. Today, the two cultures live well together. McKay visited Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Burma. “It is incredible [in Burma] to see the struggle that is going on for human rights.” He spent a month in China traveling from Hong Kong to Beijing meeting local people. “It was an incredible experience. The government is screwed up, but I cannot tell you how nice the people are and how beautiful the country is.”

Bert Drummond ’02 from Hampton, VA, participated in the Antioch College Program in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. There were 11 students in the program with a 23-year old Polish leader: according to Bert, “she is beautiful with a moving personality.” The program centered on an independent research project based on interviews and experiences. “Our professor, Manfred McDowell, is a brilliant man and an atheist, which contrasted to me as a Christian, and one of my majors is religion. My independent study had to do with the theory of secularization in terms of Europe. I had to be extremely objective and use nothing but facts and data in writing. It was really challenging for me and healthy. Poland and Hungary are extraordinary places with extraordinary people. Hungary has a large Romanian population who, believe it or not, are more discriminated against than African-Americans in the United States. In the Polish villages, people are under such [economic] duress. They are in a completely different situation than we are; yet, we had so much in common when we talked to each other. I lived with a Jewish family in Budapest; Jewish life in Europe, especially Central Europe, is an whole different world.”

“We stayed in London for a month. We went from Poland where people are warm, compassionate, and friendly to London where everyone is not so warm, compassionate, and friendly. England is an extremely secular society. I think I saw the sun for maybe two consecutive hours on one day, but you get used to it after awhile. It was so fun, so fun.”

Six Hampden-Sydney students participated in the Virginia Program at Oxford and studied at St. Anne’s College. According to Kerr Ramsay of Raleigh, NC, dormitory life was less than luxurious, “the shower was the size of a toilet,” but “the library you study in was founded by James I, I think about the time of Jamestown. In the upper reading rooms you can see where Charles I had his government during the English Civil War and there is a place where you can still see the burn marks where Bloody Mary [Mary Tudor] burned Protestants at the stake.”

Andrew Walshe ’02, from Herndon, VA, spent a year at the London School of Economics. “It was more work than I thought it would be, but it was a good experience.” The school was filled with a very diverse group of people and “absolutely brilliant” people. “I was just hanging on for dear life at the beginning, but, by the end of it, I was doing OK, and everything worked out really well. We had amazing lecturers. It was tremendous. After lectures, you go to class with graduate students; every graduate assistant I had was from a different country: England, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Holland. On all, it was good experience and a good time. Living in London was tremendous.”

Andy Yarborough ’02, Gulf Shores, AL, studied for a semester at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, a small, about 3000, university on the northeast coast. He lived in student lodge with students from all over world. “The land is unbelievable: it is nearly impossible to be bored: you can draw so much enjoyment from the land.” In his indigenous studies courses, Andy learned that the treatment of Aborigines was comparable to that of Native Americans, and race relations in Australia are still delicate. He went out into different aboriginal communities and befriended a head of a clan who took him out into the bush, interpreted aboriginal rock art, and to ancient initiation sites. “I was lucky to be able to go and to get in with the people I did. I saw places where land is still totally pristine and untouched by civilization, a far cry from anything that I have seen in the States.”