Mercyhurst international students took their first off-campus trip of the year on Sept. 22 to visit the beaches of Presque Isle State Park.
The event was run by the Mercyhurst International Students Organization (MISO) in conjunction with the Office of International Affairs.
MISO is a group that provides a cultural exchange to the Mercyhurst community and develops educational, social and cultural activities for both domestic and international students.
MISO took the students to Presque Isle to see the local area, enjoy the panoramic views and tour the historical Presque Isle Lighthouse by Beach 9.
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,000-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie to form a bay. Students learned many snippets about its unique history from their trip, including the fact that Lake Erie is home to more shipwrecks than all of the Bermuda triangle.
The lighthouse is an iconic feature of Erie that dates back to 1873. The international students were lucky enough to be given a private tour of the building and grounds, which are newly renovated and still in operation. Students were also allowed the opportunity to climb to the roof for the spectacular views.
The day at the lake included frisbee, cornhole, swimming and a beachside breakfast. Despite the cold temperatures, most students swam and braved the cold.
The new international population at Mercyhurst this year includes students from Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and more.
Dawa Bidha Dorji, a freshman International Business major from Bhutan, took this trip as an opportunity to see more of Erie than just Mercyhurst.
“The trip to Presque Isle was a very memorable one,” Dorji said. “I got to meet amazing people and got the chance to visit a beautiful place. It was fun playing games and talking with new people from different countries who happily shared about their culture.”
Dorji is one of the 38 new international students to join Mercyhurst this year, and one of the many students who had not been to the U.S. prior to college.
Luis Sandoval Flores, MISO vice president, said the purpose behind such a trip is to allow international students to go beyond the gates and connect with each other outside of the school environment. Flores is a junior History major originally from Mexico.“I loved just how happy everyone was despite the cold weather. We were just a group of friends enjoying the weekend at the beach and that’s perfect,” he said.
Many staff also played an important role in organizing this event, including Tyler Brentley, Multicultural and Inclusion coordinator; Cariel Lewis, assistant director of Residence Life; and Angela Phillips, International Enrollment counselor.
Phillips identified trips like these as one of the reasons that she loves her job.“I often only get to see students when they need help with administrative responsibilities and visa requirements,” Phillips said. “It is so much fun to connect with students outside of the office, and the trip to Presque Isle did just that. Despite the unseasonal frigid temperatures, everyone in attendance was full of energy and spirit, and many even jumped in the lake. That kind of enthusiasm is so infectious, and one of my favorite things about working with MISO and the international student population. I’m already looking forward to the next MISO adventure.”
MISO’s plans for the year include a craft afternoon, immigration information sessions, participation in the International Fashion show in November and off-campus trips both in Erie and as far as Niagara Falls.While international students experience a vastly different lifestyle in the U.S. compared to their home country, many do not get the chance to explore Erie or the surrounding states extensively.
MISO leadership hopes to showcase the breadth of activities in the local area and around the country.For all of our international students, “Hurst is Home” takes on an even deeper meaning when traditional home is so far.
With events like these, Erie can be home, too.