With a grand total of students reaching well past the ten thousand mark and, according to the Murray State website, students in attendance come from 45 separate countries, this campus could easily be seen as a cultural hub for the entire area.
One student took this idea of cultural immersion away from his own home field of Kentucky when he found himself volunteering at Guatemalan orphanage, elderly home and feeding center of JesusChristo Es Mi Casa.
Aaron Peck, senior from Shelbyville, Ky., made the trip to the Central American country intending on visiting a longtime friend from his hometown, but was given the chance of a lifetime that would allow him to dive into a whole other world.
The English-speaking Peck was translated to the locals by the same friend who he would be staying with, Chad Meers. All the same, Peck found the language barrier to be profound, although it was lessened through sports.
“Sports were a good common ground I could communicate with others through,” Peck said.
Peck remembered being able to connect to the local population while watching a soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid – after all, a cry of excitement has a tendency to be universal among fans.
While admitting that the culture shock was softened with the help of Veers – he explains there are some things that tend to stick out for most Americans.
A major difference that stood out to Peck was the local populations turning away from going out to eat. Instead, almost everyone cooked every meal in the home. The Meers’ family, along with Peck, took the family’s maid, Wendy, out to eat to Papa John’s.
“She had never eaten out before – like ever,” Peck said.
Peck recalled his experiences volunteering at the orphanage with particular fondness.
The orphanage, JesusChristo Es Mi Casa, housed about 15 children and was run by a single woman, Arisele. She alone balanced the lives of the 15 orphans, along with the part-time feeding and care of the elderly and homeless.
Peck said he would recommend taking a trip like this to any student who thought about doing it. The only major problem he faced was the language barrier.
“Definitely do it,” Peck said. “But try and learn Spanish before you go anywhere like that.”
Regardless of where or how you look, various cultures are all around Murray State’s campus.
From study abroad to mission trips, the opportunities are there. As exemplified by one of Murray State’s very own, all you have to do is look.
Story by Conner Jaschen, Contributing writer