CEDAR CITY — With more than 500 international students from 50 different countries, Southern Utah University is looking to advance a more just, empathetic and prosperous world. The university’s Division of International Affairs fosters globally engaged communities by supporting the exchange of values, cultures and ideas.
One international student that has become highly involved with the university is Arnold Nyatanga, a senior communication major from Harare, Zimbabwe.
Nyatanga was born and raised in Zimbabwe where he attended private British schools and spent some time in an exchange program in Paris, France. Nyatanga said his family in Zimbabwe still plays an important role in his life, even from so far away.
“It’s always nice to be in touch with those people who have known you for your whole life and have seen how far you’ve come,” Nyatanga said. “They get to celebrate with you from afar.”
Since relocating to Utah, Nyatanga has made many friends and achieved success in student government and school, but he said it wasn’t always easy. During his first month in the U.S., he said that he felt out of place and considered returning to Zimbabwe.
“It was challenging for me because I was not part of the majority race or religion, and I was 3,000 miles away from home by himself,” Nyatanga said. “In the beginning I felt a disconnect.”
After a month of feeling isolated and homesick, Nyatanga decided to involve himself in as many organizations as he could. He joined the Snow College’s activities board and Black Student Union, and he became a resident assistant.
Nyatanga decided to transfer to Southern Utah University because of his relationship with President Scott L. Wyatt during Wyatt’s time at Snow College. He was also impressed by the personal care of his adviser when he began speaking to her about coming to the university.
“SUU is a place where they make you feel like an important person,” Nyatanga said. “To me that’s what makes the difference in your college experience because I want to feel like a valued person at this university and not just a figure … SUU is really good at making students feel like they are part of something special. That’s something that was really unique about SUU.”
Since coming to Southern Utah, Nyatanga has been involved as President of the SUU Black Student Union, brother of Sigma Chi and has held various positions within SUUSA before earning his present title as SUUSA Vice President of Activities.
“I wake up every day and I’m so humbled and blessed to know that I get to serve the student population of Southern Utah University as the VP of Activities,” Nyatanga said. “It’s been one of the best things I could ever imagine.”
Nyatanga devotes 40 hours or more every week to planning and directing events on campus. He also has maintained a strong relationship with those that work around him in SUUSA and his activities branch.
“I don’t treat people like they are a worker,” Nyatanga said. “I treat them as if they were one of my brothers (or) one of my sisters. My activities planning board is my family. I know them individually. I love getting to know about their personal life and I love seeing them grow.”
Nyatanga will graduate in May and said he will pursue a career in public relations or event managing, but he hopes to keep up with the people who made him feel at home in Cedar City.
“I would love to stay in contact with all the people I have met at SUU,” he said. “This is truly my home away from home. I have my family here and continuing those relationships would mean the world to me.”
Like Nyatanga, international students at Southern Utah University are presented with great benefits and personal attention. The school’s small class sizes – which average fewer than 30 students in 73 percent of its courses – allow professors to work closely with students and give them the confidence to grow inside and outside of the classroom.
One of SUU’s core themes speaks to exploring diverse ideas, cultures and places. International Affairs provides opportunities for students, faculty and staff to do so through programming that connects and educates, fostering international student presence on the campus, learning abroad programs and much more.
SUU is participating in the International Education Week from Nov. 14 – 18. The week is packed with opportunities for SUU students, faculty and staff to learn about international education and engage with those from diverse backgrounds. Events include a “Where am I From” Poetry Slam, “Fast Friending” Conversations and the popular International Food Fair.
For complete event details and information go to the SUU Office of Learning Abroad website.