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"I think I need more confidence," said Kim, an Intensive English Program student from South Korea who was learning to fish at PSU's University Lake. "This is more difficult than I thought, but I'm having fun."
Kim was among more than 40 international students taking part in a collaborative lesson on the basics of camping June 29 at PSU. Domestic students from the Camping and Outdoor Education class offered each summer through the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, enjoyed an afternoon of fishing, kayaking and canoeing with international students - many of whom were brand new to camping.
"This is the big highlight of the summer for our students," said Christine Mekkaoui, director of the IEP, who has helped organize the event for the past four years. "Many of them have come from large, urban, landlocked areas and have never had experiences with camping. It's a lot of fun for them."
After finishing the full-time program designed to increase their proficiency with the English language, most of the IEP students plan to enroll in a degree program at PSU. Until then, said Saudi Arabian student Mohammed Wahbeh, the program gives them opportunities to enjoy the culture and recreation of the Midwest.
"I had never canoed before," he said after a near-miss with another canoe carrying two classmates. "Through the program we get to visit theme parks and go places, and we enjoy that. We look forward to days like this where we get to do something different. "
And although one man's new adventure may be another's favorite weekend activity, everyone can agree they're sharing an enjoyable and educational experience.
"This is the perfect setting - it's like God's country out here," said Scott Gorman, who teaches the camping course. "Helping our students find ways to interact with people other than their everyday peers is critical. And to have the opportunity to come together and see that these students enjoy the same things they do is a great lesson for everyone."
©2011 Pittsburg State University