Cedars: International Student Spotlight

By Jewell Strock

Leonela Isabel Padilla Turcios, a sophomore nursing major, is one of the many international students on Cedarville’s campus. She lives in Honduras, located in Central America, adjacent to El Salvador and Guatemala. Honduras is known for its diverse geography, from beautiful Caribbean coastlines to mountainous terrain and dense rainforests. 

Honduras has tropical weather along with its coastal regions, which Leonela misses about her country. While Cedarville has many positive aspects, Leonela misses not only the weather but also her family and friends and being able to speak Spanish 24/7. Spanish is the official language of Honduras, and is spoken nationwide in addition to various indigenous languages spoken by some communities. 

While she loves being at Cedarville, the cultural differences between the United States and Honduras are significant.

“First of all, there is a language barrier,” Turcios said, “The food doesn’t taste the same as the Honduran food. People here are not too welcoming; in my home country, we hug and give a kiss to everyone we meet.” 

Many countries in Central America are very welcoming and friendly. However, the United States is considered one of the more unfriendly and unwelcoming countries. Family is incredibly important, and there’s often a strong sense of community and support among extended family members. Life in Honduras moves at a slower pace than life in many parts of the United States. People approach work, meals, and social interactions more leisurely and flexibly.

While Leonela may not be in Honduras, she still finds ways to celebrate her culture in Cedarville.

 “For Independence Day, we get together and cook Honduran food. We assist the Hispanic Heritage Festival,” Turcios said.

 The Hispanic Heritage Festival takes place in Dayton. Each year, Dayton invites those of Hispanic heritage to join together and share their culture and those who want to learn more. Bands representing various countries’ cultures and dance troupes perform various traditional dances. Hispanic Heritage Month is unique in that it crosses over two months, celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This time was chosen because it includes Independence Day celebrations for Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Honduras, in particular, has several cultural celebrations important to them, such as Independence Day, Semana Santa (Holy Week), and local patron saint festivals are widely observed. Culture is essential to any country, and Honduras is no exception.

“My country is rich in culture, and we are welcoming,” Turcious said, “We have the second-largest coral reef in the world, located in Roatán, Islas de la Bahia (Bay Islands). Honduras is one of the world’s major coffee exporters; therefore, the coffee you drink might be Honduran.”

Although she does not live in her home country, Turcios still finds ways to celebrate and share her culture. Several organizations on campus, such as MISO and GSO, allow international students to celebrate their culture and help with events like ALT 1 to share their culture with the rest of the student body. 

Jewell Strock is a senior International Studies major and journalist for Cedars. She enjoys matcha, rainy weather, writing, traveling, and Jane Austen.

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