Coming to John Brown University has been the most amazing experience of my life. Living in Costa Rica was different. Friends were different, my daily routine was different and especially my worldview and culture were different. Coming to live and study in a new country changes many aspects of anyone’s life. At JBU, I have come to know people from places I never imagined I would get to know. Living in a place full of cultural diversity has been one of the most valuable enrichment processes of my life. It opens your eyes to the eyes of the world and connects your heart and your minds to people from different places in the globe.
Back home, I was studying industrial engineering. I went to a big college, with thousands of students, a variety of majors, thousands of educational opportunities and a peaceful environment to study. Nevertheless, I always felt there was something else, something that was going to change my life. I used to live in a big city, with millions of people circulating every day. All of that changed when I came to JBU. Siloam Springs is a very small town. At the beginning, I was frustrated. I asked myself many times, what am I doing here? Why did I leave my country?
The process of changing your daily routine makes you grow. It was hard at the beginning, but you learn to appreciate the little details that JBU and this town can offer you. For me, the American culture was substantially different from my own culture. I thought I would never get used to living here. Nonetheless, as a Walton Scholar, I was required to live with an American student during my first semester.
It was an amazing experience. I got to know more people and places and internalize the American Culture. I lived in a suite in J. Alvin, full of Americans that really made me think differently. I interacted with a culture that was different from mine, but I realized we are all the same. We share different worldviews, different presidents in our countries and different languages, but we are all the same under the eyes of the Creator.
I came to JBU and found an amazing girlfriend from Nicaragua, a roommate from Bentonville, a current roommate from Honduras and many friends from Africa, Europe and many other places in the world. JBU is a place where you experience cultural diversity every day. It is a place where you will certainly find a Walton that will say hi to you, or an international student or MK that will be part of a fun experience with you.
As a Walton, I received a huge blessing that is not only a full scholarship, but also an opportunity to share with others my own culture and get to know people that make my life better. Every single experience enriches our time at JBU, and these intercultural relationships are gold and a huge blessing from God.
I would urge the JBU community to get know more about our cultures and our countries. We are always willing to tell you more about our life back home and the places we lived. If you want to know more about us, stop by the international office and say hi to any of the international students. We all want to share with you a little more of who we are.
Bonilla is a senior majoring in marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.