Rice Unconventional Wisdom

centennial oiss


V.I.P. 2012: 

Celebrating 100 of Rice's Most Memorable Intercultural Experiences!



1) Onja Razafindratsima - Madagascar
Graduate student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

One of my most memorable experiences at Rice was winning the first prize for International Culture Fair in Spring 2010. As it was my first year in the US and my first participation in any cultural event, I didn't know at all what to expect. I am the only student from Madagascar at Rice and apparently the first in Rice history, so I wanted people to see the real Madagascar beyond the famous funny cartoon. Thus, I asked the organizers if I could have my own booth to represent my country even though I don't have an official club. I gathered some Malagasy traditional musical instruments, paintings, handcrafts I had and from friends, made some Malagasy sweet snacks, and assembled everything I could think of that represent the diverse cultures of Malagasy ethnic groups. My husband and I really enjoyed seeing the amazed look on people's face when they visited our booth.

2) Lulu Ma - China
Graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

One of my most memorable experiences at Rice was my birthday party in 2010. It was my first birthday since arriving in the USA, but to be honest at first I didn’t even plan to celebrate it. Because I had just came to Rice a couple of weeks earlier everything around me was still very unfamiliar. It was a little uneasy for me to buy a birthday cake, let alone a ton of food and drink for a party.
Much to my surprise once my three sweet American roommates, Abby, Marci, and Hellen, found out it was my birthday, they took initiative and helped me prepare a party even though we were studying for mid-terms. They made me a Chinese-style cake according to my preferences as well as an American cake. I still remember how good both of them tasted! I really appreciated all that these girls did for me, which made me feel so warm and welcome.

3) Lisa Li - China
Spouse of Rice international

I have been at Rice for a month. The campus is lovely. The weather is fine till now, although everyone tells me that Houston's summer is horrible.
I asked my teacher in an English class what the stereotype of local people is, when she was trying to explain the word "stereotype". She said, "big, loud, nice and friendly." I don't know whether they are bigger or louder than people in other states, because I haven't been to other places of America except Houston. But people here are friendly in my eyes. As a bit reserved Chinese girl, I met three strangers saying "How are you?" when I was walking alone during my first week here: an officer at the airport, a little girl walking out of her home, a cleaner on the sidewalk.  Maybe it is just socially polite to greet strangers here, as we Chinese people say "have you eaten?" to our neighbors, but it makes me feel good. Before I get homesick, I desperately need to make some new friends. If that is not so easy and not so soon, greetings from strangers are nice!

4) Cristal Tan Pek Lynn - Malaysia
Undergraduate student from Duncan College

The common perception of Texas is that it is a predominantly "white" state, and it is often associated with cowboys, NASA and the strong southern drawl. Before arriving in Houston, I was somewhat wary of how I would fit in because I am Asian, and despite my depth of knowledge in various sports, I did not get American football (I still don't). Nonetheless, as an astrophysics major, I expected to be constantly surrounded by male classmates, but I have bonded wonderfully with a diverse and multicultural set of friends in Rice. Within an academic year, I have found myself part of the "astrophysics gang", which consists of a white girl, a black guy, a Hispanic girl, and an Asian girl (me). Coming from a multicultural country myself, it is heartwarming to see that people from all over the world can come together and celebrate diversity despite the differences in skin color, ethnicity or religious beliefs. Only when we look beyond what separates us that we can see what truly unites us.

5) Shuwei Li - China
Graduate student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I love Rice, the owl, the squirrels on oaks, the corner in library, the grassland and the warm faces in OISS.

One thing I like about Rice is that undergraduates have chances to choose their majors after two years' course shopping. You can take any courses that interests you, meet the professor, do the project, team up with colleagues.  After then, seriously make a decision. I always wonder if I have this chance in China when I was an undergraduate, my life would be totally different and probably live better.

It is not just more information, not just a choice, it means respect, rich education and confidence.

With this, I like to say "Happy 100th birthday, Rice!"
BTW, I named my baby's middle name as "Rice" to remember.

6) Will Wang - China
Undergraduate student from Lovett College

Cultural differences emerge in the small events of everyday. In conversation, I found a particular interesting conflict between cultures. Say there is a math problem my American friend has. To encourage him/her, I may say "it is very easy. no problem you can do it." A native American may say something different "it is a bit tedious but you can do it." While it occurs to me naturally to emphasize how easy a problem is, I can make my friend feel better and more confident. But to a lot of Americans, calling the problem easy might sound like an insult that makes them look silly as in "it is so easy but I can't do it. How dumb am I"

7) Ju Hyun Lee - Korea
Undergraduate student from Baker College

One of the funniest moment in Rice as an international student was when people gave out frisbees. I thought frisbees were for dogs, since from the movies that I had seen, frisbees always came out with people throwing them to their dogs (I don't have to tell you we don't have frisbees in Korea). So I wondered why they were giving out the toys for dogs when we can't even raise one at Rice. Few days later, I learned that frisbee was a kind of sports not only for dogs but also for people. That day I visited my other korean friend's dorm, since she promised me to bake some cookies. And guess what I saw! She was using the frisbee as a plate! When I looked at her awkwardly, she gave a smile saying, " They gave me free plates:) Do you also want one?"