International students celebrate Fourth of July

Branden Peterson

While the Fourth of July is a U.S. holiday, many international students said they were eager to participate in traditional U.S. Independence Day festivities.

“I think international students want to go to events to know what Independence Day is like to Americans,” said Kathy Fang, a Chinese history graduate student from China.

Tsutomu Shimotori and some friends walked through a quiet Stadium Village with ice-cold drinks on their way to the Taste of Minnesota. The St. Paul event is a Fourth of July tradition with food, live music and fireworks.

Shimotori, a civil engineering graduate student from Japan, said he definitely would not be opening any textbooks for the day.

“I’ll take this opportunity as a holiday,” he said. “Anything but study.”

Some students reflected on the differences between the U.S. holiday and independence celebrations in their home countries.

Many international students said colorful parades, family gatherings, political ceremonies and sporting events make the Fourth of July in the United States much like independence celebrations in their home countries.

“Every person goes outside their house and goes to some parade in the country,” said Joengmin Hwang, a computer science graduate student from South Korea.

Journalism senior Edwin Swaray said people in Liberia regularly watch a high-profile soccer match in addition to the traditional celebrations.

“There’s a lot of (talk about) patriotism, about what you can do your country,” Swaray said.

After four years at the University of Pittsburgh, Romeo Ahohe came to the University of Minnesota to attend graduate school in aerospace engineering.

Ahohe said he remembers independence day at home in Benin by a traditional family feast. Families also light fireworks, but not like what he has seen in the United States.

“They’re bigger here and done by computers,” he said. “At home it’s much more manual – kids blowing their hands off.”

Education graduate student Masumi Hori, from Japan, said he has noticed American patriotism grow when Independence Day occurs.

“It’s natural to celebrate the day,” he said. “I think it’s special, especially with having soldiers away from home.”

Branden Peterson welcomes comments at [email protected]