International Hour: Ghana

International Hour: Ghana

The Association of International Students (AIS) has a radio program called International Hour. The show airs on Mount Union’s very own WRMU 91.1FM every Thursday night at 9 p.m. On the previous segment of the AIS International Hour, I visited the West African nation of Ghana. For a very long time, Mount Union lacked representatives … Read more


The Association of International Students (AIS) has a radio program called International Hour. The show airs on Mount Union’s very own WRMU 91.1FM every Thursday night at 9 p.m.

On the previous segment of the AIS International Hour, I visited the West African nation of Ghana. For a very long time, Mount Union lacked representatives from the African continent. We never really had students from Africa come to Mount Union (transfer or exchange). This year, we have students representing Ethiopia, Senegal (later moved to France) and, of course, Ghana.

International Hour: Ghana was a first. I have repeated a few countries before; covering different aspects of the country each time the country had a repeat feature on the show. International Hour: Ghana came after I featured Ethiopia the week prior. I am getting side-tracked.

International Hour: Ghana was an interesting show to prepare for. It made me realize that the English language is more commonly used for Ghanaian songs compared to their local languages and dialects. Why? Because English is their official language (former British colony) and it was easier to market with English.

Here are some of the facts about Ghana:

Capital City: Accra

Population: approximately 25 milion

Size comparison: slightly smaller than Oregon

Official language: English (due to British colonization)

Neighbors: Ivory Coast (west), Burkina Faso (north, and Togo (east). Gulf of Guinea in the south.

My guest for the show was Edward, or commonly known as Eddie among the international students. He is a new transfer student from Ghana. He lived in the capital city, Accra. Eddie is currently a freshman and will be at Mount for the whole nine yards (or whole four years).

Eddie said that one of the hardest things for him to get used to when he first came to America was the weather. The climate in Ghana is only classified into two seasons; dry and wet. Not getting snow in Ghana, Eddie had a hard time getting used to the bitter cold and the endless snow that we had earlier in the year.

His favorite thing about America is the friendliness of the people. Though I had pointed out that it could just be a “mid-west thing,” Eddie stated that even in New York, where he had his connecting flight, people were generally friendlier.

The term “Ghanaian” can be a very general term used to describe the people of Ghana. There are various ethnic groups in Ghana; Akan, Ewe and Guan to name a few. The people of Ghana differs from region to region. They speak different languages passed down from their ancestors as well as different dialects within those languages. Ghana, in this aspect, is very diverse.

English is the uniting language of the nation as it is the official language of Ghana. Children are taught in schools while most classes (except foreign languages) are conducted in English. Students in Ghana can also learn French. Eddie told me during the show that French was an option offered by the Ghanaian government because their neighboring countries all speak French.

The mainstream media in Ghana is basically influenced by American media. Besides having their local artistes, American pop music has a huge presence in modern day Ghana. The same goes for movies and television. Most of the movies shown in Ghana are made in Hollywood. Most of the TV shows are, obviously, American TV shows. It seems to be a pattern in many countries. The taking over of the mainstream media by the American media in many countries is a very common phenomenon.

Here is a song by Ghanaian hip-hop artiste, Fuse ODG, from the show: watch?v=6LCoksSQMzs

Ghana Flag

Be sure to tune in to the International Hour every Thursday night at 9 on WRMU 91.1FM!

International Hour on WRMU

International Hour on WRMU

Traveling has always been one of my passions. I love visiting new places and learning new things, culture, language and FOOD. Studying here in Ohio is essentially an entirely new experience for me. Well, not as new as it was two years ago, but you get the point. Being atMount Union gave me opportunities that … Read more

International Hour Traveling has always been one of my passions. I love visiting new places and learning new things, culture, language and FOOD.

Studying here in Ohio is essentially an entirely new experience for me. Well, not as new as it was two years ago, but you get the point.

Being atMount Union gave me opportunities that I could never imagine having if I had went to a larger school. Since my transfer from my little island state of Penang in Malaysia, I had been able to have first hand experience with creating ad campaigns, operating film studio equipment, being a president for an association representing my peers from around the world and now, I even have my own radio show.

It’s called “International Hour.” Essentially what goes down in my show is each week, I focus on one country; highlighting certain aspects of its culture, like language, beliefs, music and the occasional stereotypes. Songs from the country of the week will be played throughout the hour-long radio program. The songs are selected by guests from the particular country, who join me in the WRMU studio to share their experience in the United States as well as the differences between the culture of their native country and the US.

So far, I have covered countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Ethiopia, Northern Ireland, Germany, Georgia, France and Spain to name a few.

The things I’ve learned from doing this show are endless. Each week, I learn a little more about a different part of the world. Each week, I discover new songs and styles of music.

I will be recapping each country featured on the show starting this week.

The International Hour is a radio program by the Association of International Students. The show is on Mount Union’s very own WRMU 91.1, every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST.

So, what country will be featured next?

We are Asians… but we are NOT the same.

“NI HAO!” “KONICHIWA!” While it is cool that one can say hello in the language of the two most obvious Asian nations, it is not cool when you say it to someone who isn’t from either nations. I get that a lot. From cars passing by, people that walk by on the streets, even students … Read more

“NI HAO!”

“KONICHIWA!”

While it is cool that one can say hello in the language of the two most obvious Asian nations, it is not cool when you say it to someone who isn’t from either nations. I get that a lot. From cars passing by, people that walk by on the streets, even students on campus. I get it. I come from a relatively unknown country in South East Asia. But it really isn’t being smart if you just scream out one of the two greetings above to someone just because they look, how should I put this… oriental?

Bear with me here. For this is not a rant. I want to enlighten people.

Asia is the largest and most populous continent on the planet. It has a total of 48 countries and also home to about 4 billion people; 60% of the world’s population (give or take). But the most amazing part about Asia is that it has over 2,000 spoken languages. Yes, you read correctly, TWO THOUSAND.

Nearly every Asian nation has it’s own language, making it difficult to communicate among each other. That’s why we use English as the common ground. China alone has over 200 different dialects and India has over a 100. It is a crazy world over there in Asia. Even in Malaysia, being multiracial, we speak different languages. Malays, the majority race, speaks Malay. Indian-Malaysians speak Tamil, one of the Indian dialects. The tribes in Malaysia all have their own languages. Chinese-Malaysians, my people, speak at least three Chinese dialects in Malaysia. In Penang where I am from, we mostly speak Hokkien (Fujian in China) dialect. In other states, the Chinese speak Mandarin. Others speak Cantonese. I can speak in all three dialects, for the most part.

Crossing any border in Asia is like walking into an entirely different world. Asia is so diverse in culture, history and language that it makes it virtually impossible to group us under one umbrella. The fact that we are categorized as “Asians” is also not accurate. How do you group over 4 billion people into one little category? We are guilty of doing that to ourselves too.

Generally, when one mentions “Asian,” the image that will probably appear in your head is an image of a Chinese or Japanese man. Admit it, you are doing that right now.

The point I’m trying to make here is clear. Do not let ignorance make you look like someone who is insensitive. Surely it would seem ignorant if a foreigner came to America and screamed “HOWDY PARTNER” at every American? The same applies to Asians.

Fact of the matter is that we are all really different people. Asians are not all alike. And to be honest, not all Asians get along either.

So the next time you see someone who is of Asian heritage, refrain from screaming “NI HAO” or “KONICHIWA.” Instead, really get to know where they come from before trying something like that. Who knows? You might even learn a new way of saying “Hello” in a new Asian language. Now THAT would be cool.

International Culinary Experience Like No Other.

International Culinary Experience Like No Other.

In the late 1980s, Harold Hall, who at that time was serving as director of international recruitment, organized a small gathering for the international students of Mount Union College to get together and enjoy food from the different countries they came from. The students cooked food from their respective countries and brought it to the … Read more

AIS members

In the late 1980s, Harold Hall, who at that time was serving as director of international recruitment, organized a small gathering for the international students of Mount Union College to get together and enjoy food from the different countries they came from. The students cooked food from their respective countries and brought it to the gathering to share with their peers. Each year, due to the increase in international student admissions, the gathering got bigger. Soon, the international students brought guests to the gathering.

Close to 30 years after that first gathering, the International Dinner is now organized by the Association of International Students (AIS). The event is held annually and has been a collaboration between AIS and the University of Mount Union’s food service provider, AVI Foodsystems.

This year’s International Dinner featured three festivals as its theme – Lunar New Year from China, Pongal from India and Day of the Dead from Mexico. Tables were decorated with paper dragons, which were hand-made by AIS members, chalk drawings (done with color pencil this time) and hand-painted mini skulls. The skulls were not as intimidating as I had expected. Being colored so extensively, they actually look… nice.

This year, the food represented countries including Greece, Romania, Thailand and Jamaica.

Greek Salad – Greece (for obvious reasons)

Stuffed Mushrooms – Italy/America

Pad Thai – Thailand (again, for obvious reasons)

Jerk Chicken – Jamaica

Ciorba Soup – Romania

Chocolate Fondue – France/Switzerland

The performances during the dinner were by Mount Union’s very own international students. The night featured singing and dancing and ended with a traditional Japanese dance called “So-Ran Bushi.” The traditional dance was performed by the Japanese students of Mount Union and depicts ocean waves and the tasks of fishermen.

It was a great night and I couldn’t help but feel relieved. Planning this with the other executive board members of AIS was stressful. At the end of the day, it was worth all the time spent. I had the opportunity to meet some great people from the Alliance community and also faculty members.

Now that this is over, I can finally eat, sleep and BREATHE normally again.

Which makes me wonder… what’s next for AIS? Wait and see.

Around the World with Food.

Have you ever wondered how food tasted in different regions of the world? I certainly have! These past few weeks have been pretty stressful for the Association of International Students (AIS). Each year, the AIS hosts the International Dinner in the Kresge Dining Commons. It is that time of the year again. The dinner falls … Read more

Have you ever wondered how food tasted in different regions of the world? I certainly have!

These past few weeks have been pretty stressful for the Association of International Students (AIS). Each year, the AIS hosts the International Dinner in the Kresge Dining Commons. It is that time of the year again. The dinner falls on Saturday, November 10 this year. With only less than a week remaining, the planning committee is starting to feel the heat.

What is the International Dinner, you ask? The International Dinner is a themed dinner where guests get to feast on dishes from around the world, as prepared by our very own AVI. The dinner also features performances from Mount Union’s own international and local students. The dinner is a great opportunity for members of Mount Union and Alliance to experience different cultures from around the world.

The dinner menu is carefully selected by members of the AIS executive board and will feature food from different regions of the world. This year’s menu features dishes from East Europe, South East Asia, and the Caribbean. The international students will also be helping AVI prepare some of the ingredients before the dinner. But do not worry; it will be the chefs of AVI who does the actual cooking. I would tell you more about the food, but doing so will only ruin the surprise.

Some of the students will also perform during the dinner. I can tell you for sure, that there will be a traditional Japanese performance during the dinner. It is a great opportunity for students to showcase their talents and their native culture with the community. Did I mention that some of the international students will be dressing up in traditional outfits?

Even though planning this dinner is no easy task, I do enjoy doing it. Being one who is very proud of my foreign status, this is also a chance for me to create a platform for all international students to share their culture with the whole community. This is part of the “bridging the gap” goal that I had mentioned earlier in my introductory blog post. This being my last year at Mount Union, I also want to leave, as they say, “with a bang.”

Just in case you were wondering, you can reserve a spot for the International Dinner during lunch and dinner hours in front of the cafeteria or call the Center for Global Education at (330) 823-3296.

Tickets for adults are priced at $10, students at $8 and children under 12-years old at $5.

With all that being said, I guess all I really have to say is “SEE YOU THERE!”

International Hour on WRMU

WRMU is the only jazz station that I have ever listened to. I have always been a mainstream chart music kind of person. I realized that WRMU has garnered many listeners from the Alliance area and that these listeners are real smooth jazz fans. What WRMU also provides is a platform for media students to … Read more

WRMU is the only jazz station that I have ever listened to. I have always been a mainstream chart music kind of person. I realized that WRMU has garnered many listeners from the Alliance area and that these listeners are real smooth jazz fans. What WRMU also provides is a platform for media students to explore the world of radio. WRMU has many student DJs. Some of them do it because it is part of their audio class requirement while others do it because they are passionate about it.

I was given a huge opportunity to host my own show after completing my basic level audio class last year. As a member of the Association of International Students (AIS), I was asked to host the AIS International Hour due to my radio experience. I took the offer and now, a year later, I am still at it. As president of AIS, the radio show meant so much more to me because it is a chance for me to share Mount Union’s diversity and let our listeners know of our international student body.

Each week, the AIS International Hour includes some of the following:

  • Focus on one particular country and share facts about that country.
  • Play music from the country of the week … because it is a radio show after all!
  • Feature a guest from that particular country to share an insider’s perspective.
  • Dish out fun facts about the country.

and towards the end of the program,

  • Confirm or dismiss stereotypes placed upon that selected country.

The show is a good chance for listeners to learn more about a different country every week and also to discover new music from that country.  So far, the International Hour has featured Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Germany and Spain.

The AIS International Hour is on WRMU 91.1 FM every Thursday at 9 p.m.

The Spanish American Culture War

The Spanish American Culture War

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Yes, Spain and the United States are somewhat different. OK, a lot different. Hopefully by the end of this post you will be able to decide for yourself which place would be the ideal place to live! Both places are unique in their own ways and there definitely are some culture clashes … just ask my host mom. I quickly found out certain things are much different here in Alicante, but I’ve been able to adapt to most of them. My list seems to be ever growing for this battle between cultures and if you would like any further clarification or more detailed stories, don’t hesitate to ask. Here we go …

1. The first difference and foremost difference I was aware of upon arriving on Calle de Foglietti in Alicante with my host family was the re-recognition of pronunciation, more specifically between the letter “z” and “s.” Authentic spaniards virtually have no ability to pronounce the letter “z” with a definite buzz, like the sound a bee makes. Therefore, my host mom and sister seemed like they were on a Saturday Night Live skit for the first month, and they covered up little chuckles after telling “Sak” that dinner was ready. Fortunately, many people in Spain are bilingual and can get a normal sounding “Zak” out, just not my family yet … I’m trying.

2. Secondly, for everyone who absolutely loves to nap, Spain is the place to be. Siestas are integrated into daily life to the point where many city stores close and then again reopen around 5 p.m. Wondering why no one is out and about in a metropolitan area in the middle of the day? Oh yeah, siesta. My host mom and sister always come home in the middle of the day to eat and then relax/sleep for a little while. I have never been a big napper, but hopefully this grows on me (see point #4).

3. Lunch and dinner are eaten extremely late in Spain. The typical lunch time is right around 2-3 p.m. and dinner floats around 9 p.m. This was one of the hardest things to get used to abroad because I am used to eating lunch at noon or 1 p.m. and dinner around 6 p.m. I am not sure exactly why they eat so late — it just is what it is!

4. Next, if you thought staying out real late on the weekends was around 4 in the morning … guess again. In Spain, nightlife is one of the highlights of things to do. Bars and restaurants are open earlier on in the night but discotecas or clubs do not even open until 3 a.m. So right when you are thinking about calling it quits for the night in the states, places are just opening in Spain. It is typical for people to get home around 7 a.m. more or less. My host sister’s boyfriend was saying how when he was younger, he hardly slept every weekend and was just out hanging out with friends. This is a hard thing to adapt to for sure, and probably the main explanation for siestas!

5. Fashionistas. In Spain everyone you see is very well dressed, and there is a pretty good fashion statement. People like to dress in neutral colors and look good before they go for a stroll around town. Also, people usually only wear tennis shoes when they are going for a run, to workout or do something outside.

6. In España, conservation is a very important topic, which has drawn interest to me since I am enthusiastic about environmental topics. The main reason for this is because electricity and water are very expensive resources and utilities. I reckon water is highly priced because southern Spain is a very dry region, and desalination from the sea is to my understanding has a rather steep price. Moral of the story is to keep lights off when you’re not using them and take quick showers (like 5 minutes max!). Also, many Spaniards do not have dryers because it racks up the bill, and it’s more common to air dry everything outside or in the bathroom. I am lucky that my host mom has one, but we don’t use it much. If you are someone who likes the feeling of ‘shrinking’ back into your jeans, I advise you to buy them a tad small in the first place here.

7. Similar to conservation is the idea of public transportation and walkable cities. This is somewhat new to me since I haven’t lived in the heart of a city before, but Alicante has everything in close proximity. You can find a Farmacía, market, café, restaurant, bank and cell phone store on pretty much every block. Many people ride buses and the train to school and work as well. The price of gas is rather high, and people in Spain drive recklessly so I wouldn’t want a car here anyways!

8. Trying to quit smoking? Don’t come to Spain or Europe for that matter. Almost everyone smokes here, so it would be that much harder to burn out that habit! Also, the drinking age is 18, but people don’t abuse it as much as I feel college students in the states do. It is rather common to just have one beer with lunch or dinner in Spain or some Sangria.

9. Olive oil is a huge industry, so it’s heavily used. Spain provides about 25% of the world’s olive oil and 50% of Europe’s. In my cooking class, Antonio (the chef instructor) comes around to our respective stations and I usually predict his words …”más aciete, más aciete” or add more olive oil! One common brunch snack or lunch entrée is toasted bread with olive oil and shaved tomato on the top.

10. Further in the food category is related to what all of us college kids survive on, coffee. The size of coffee is completely opposite of your average Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, but rather very small cups and almost shot size. This is because there is a lot of espresso and the coffee is much stronger here. Another thing that doesn’t exist is ice coffee and refrigerated milk at the supermarket. Mercadona or the market stores have cartons of milk just sitting at luke-warm temperature on the shelves! I have yet to see chocolate milk too (besides Nesquick).

11. JamónJamón. Jamón. More jamón. Let me just say that right now in my kitchen my host mom has the whole thigh of a pig, hoof included, just sitting under towels ready for some jamón to be shaved off and eaten. Ham is very popular especially on bocadillos (sandwiches) in Spain, but also on chips. Of course there are jamón flavored Ruffles!

12. Tapas are also a big difference, and most comparable to appetizers in the states. When at a restaurant or bar you can order a beer/drink and pay a little extra for a small plate of food, but if you’re lucky it will be gratis or free. Some popular tapas are potatoes with meat, ham and mantiditos (little sandwiches), and the best I have had to date were in Granada! Going from bar to bar can definitely be a substitute for dinner on some nights.

13. The concept of tipping when eating out is much different. In the states waiters, make a very low wage and bank on getting awesome tips, making service and the quality of it very important. In Spain, waiters make a higher-based salary, which makes for not the greatest service, and for this, a very little to no tip is usually left at the end of the meal. My one friend left about a 20% tip out to eat once and the waitress came running out to tell her she left money on the table!

14. Sundays in both the states and Spain are a day to relax, go to church, be with family and maybe go out to eat. The only difference in Spain is that literally nothing is open in the whole city besides some restaurants. Unless it is a really nice day, Alicante on Sundays feels like a ghost town!

15. Next, whereas it is common to invite company over to your house for some movies, a poker night or to just hangout in the states, people in Spain do not socialize in the house. The only people who really visit my apartment are my host sister’s boyfriend, and socializing normally takes place at local cafés, plazas or out on the town.

16. Lastly, since fast food is popular in the states, I thought I would mention that Alicante has McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Subway! I can’t tell you how they taste differently because I am making a pact with myself to eat no fast food while I’m here. However, one thing I could say is that the bigger chains have more elaborate design to them, have very large eating spaces and seem to be a hangout spot for younger kids!

Phew, you made it through the Sweet 16. Now is your chance to leave comments about what place you think would be better to live!

Hasta luegoo,
Sak (man am I really embracing this name, which could be a bad thing…)