International Students Find Going Home For Holidays Is Not Always Possible

Most of the students attending school here will head for one of the 50 states when the Christmas break rolls around on Dec. 15. 

But for junior business administration major Abhinav Walia the road home would mean a trip across the ocean to the continent of Africa. Time and finances will not allow him to do so, however.

A native of Lusaka, Zambia, Walia is among the international students matriculating here. Winter break is shorter this year for the Wildcats considering the two weeks taken off for Hurricane Irma and the recovery.

Walia came to this country, which is roughly 7,884 miles away from his homeland, on a full academic scholarship. Even so, he said, his family had to make sacrifices in order for him to live out his dream to play D1 golf.

Kiptoo
Kiptoo

"My parents have sacrificed their lives to give me an opportunity to live a better one and to fulfill my dreams," he said. "Coming from a Third Word nation that is barely known and not known for golfers or athletes, period, I am extremely humbled and motivated to see my dreams through. It's a bittersweet moment. You obviously miss being surrounded by family. It sucks knowing that it isn't financially feasible to go home for such a short period."

So, he said, he will keep busy with practice, workouts and anything to get me "focused on my goals and less worrying and draining my emotional energy."

Daniel Kiptoo came from the Republic of Kenya to attend B-CU on a track scholarship. Kiptoo said just finishing high school was an obstacle and he had nothing left to do but choose where to obtain a higher education. He said he researched a few schools in America and Bethune-Cookman was one of them.

"I was not a student-athlete in high school, but someone told me you could go to America and run for money to pay for school and I thought that was a good idea," said Kiptoo, who is now a junior here. He reached out to one of his coaches in Kenya who specializes in getting students to schools in America and they got a hold of a coach in South Carolina University. At the time the school had zero money to give out as a scholarship. His coach, however, realized the potential in Kiptoo and guided him to Bethune-Cookman University.

Walia
Walia

"It is my personal conscious that encouraged me to make the decision I did to leave home, because this is a step toward my dream," he said. "How is my 10 years going to be like, how is my 30 years going to be like and so on that is what pushes me. I hope for something good. I realize I miss home when December hits, because it starts to get cold. In Africa its great weather all the time and I can't say that for Daytona."

Kiptoo said that he continues to train during winter break. "I continue doing my practice every day, maybe take one or two days to rest, but continue doing my practice," he said, adding he also might look for a temporary job to help support himself.

"If I know other Kenyan students from other schools or in the region, I try to link up and enjoy the holidays. If I make plans with anyone on my team, it is the people I run distance with. Last year I was in New York to visit my brother, spent a week or so. And this year, I'll visit my cousin in Atlanta just a week then come back to Daytona to practice for the first track meet that starts the season up in the first week of
January."

By Rennae Morgan