Marshall University’s INTO students shared candy and gifts with each other Wednesday in celebration of Valentine’s Day.
Students were surprised during class with notes expressing love, happiness and cheerful themes.
Kenny Jones, Student Engagement Coordinator for INTO Marshall, with the help of his student activities volunteers Joy Vu, Pimporn Wiwekwin, Olivia Yeow and Nichcha Subdee, passed out the valentine gifts to each classroom.
Jones said the experience is something new to a lot of the students.
“A lot of our students have not received a valentine before, so we wanted to do something really quick and special for them today,” Jones said. “And as you see walking around doing this that some of them really enjoyed it.”
Coming from different backgrounds, most students don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way Americans celebrate the holiday.
The student activities volunteers wanted a way to share this holiday with their peers because they felt it was important to show they care for one another.
Olivia Yeow said she wanted people to feel better about being far away from home.
“Some people are homesick from feeling like they are on the outside,” Yeow said. “This is a way for them to feel home again and feel more comfortable with their students here at Marshall. In our countries, we do not celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way, only couples are the ones who would give to each other.”
Vu said it felt good to give to people who have been single for so long and probably miss having that extra love on Valentine’s Day.
“Some people are forever alone and they never had a girlfriend or boyfriend for years,” Vu said. “So we have small gifts for them to cheer them up.”
Aside from Valentine’s Day, the students said they appreciate the INTO program at Marshall for the support and finding a place where it is easy for them to feel connected on campus.
Wiwekwin said the program has helped her to feel accepted in an unfamiliar place.
“When I came here I felt alone because it is not my country or my language,” Wiwekwin said. “It is good to have people here that can speak to us and we are able to share different experiences and cultures in here. The teachers can understand international students better so that helped me to feel safe in here.”
Subdee said the language barrier was scary at first, but is glad she has teachers to help her through it.
“When we first came here our English skill was not good, so when we talked it was not good or it was said with the wrong grammar,” Subdee said. “It was something the teachers were willing to help us fix immediately and they are able to understand me.”
Christian Davis can be contacted at [email protected]