Photo: Inusah Al-Hassan Taimako from Ghana speaks to international students and visitors. Photo by Eric Johnson, Austin Daily Herald.
by Katie Johnson, Austin Daily Herald
“I challenge you to go to Ghana,” 16-year-old Inusah Al-Hassan Taimako, a foreign exchange student at Austin High School, told the audience Wednesday. “Ghana is the middle country in the world.”
Dressed in traditional clothing, Taimako talked about his native land in front of fellow exchange students and coordinators at the Austin Public Library.
For the second year, the Austin Chapter of Zonta International (an organization for professionals who work to advance the status of women), FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange) and YES (Youth Exchange and Study Program) gathered exchange students from AHS, Pacelli High School, Lyle, Adams and Riverland Community College for “Student Welcome,” an evening of socializing and informative presentations.
Students from Afghanistan, Germany, Georgia, Moldova, Korea, China, Ghana and Kazakhstan spoke about their heritage, played geography games and introduced themselves to the public.
Mayor Tom Stiehm welcomed the students to the city.
“Austin is a very friendly city,” Stiehm said. “You’re going to really like Austin. We’re kind of diverse now. You may get some questions because people here are very curious.”
Vadym Bezkrovnyi, 22, a student at Riverland from Ukraine, played a guitar and sang a “very popular song in Russia and Ukraine.”
Bezkrovnyi holds a master’s degree from his native country, but is pursuing another degree in his “hobby,” collision repair. He was also in a band for seven years, he said.
He said he will be in the U.S. for two years “just combining my hobby and job.”
Azada Mowahid, of Herat, Afghanistan, talked about her home country’s languages, religions, government, geography and attending school.
“Girls and boys are separate,” said Mowahid, 16. “Also, you cannot chose your subjects.” Mowahid said students have 16 subjects to learn. The Lyle exchange student said Afghanistan has 5 million people, and “no traffic lights.”
Zonta member Tami Fett said Mowahid gave a good presentation, especially since she was not drinking any beverages or eating food.
“The Muslim students are in the middle of Ramadan right now, so they have to fast,” Fett said.
Three Riverland exchange students were also present who qualified for the highly-competitive, one-year International Resources and Exchanges Board, “an international non-profit organization providing leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media and foster pluralistic civil society development,” IREX states on its Web site.
Riverland, however, also has about 30 to 40 international students who came to the country on visas, said Mel Morem, international adviser.
© 2009 Austin Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.