In keeping with the spirit and theme of the International Week celebration, "Your World, Your Story," Outlook invited nine members of the university community -- some from other countries, some from the United States with international experiences -- to interview one another on camera.
Today's video features Mario Grijalva, originally from Quito, Ecuador, and Akron, Ohio, native Symphonie Smith. Read a transcript of their conversation:
Symphonie: I see that you are from Quito, Ecuador. I was wondering what was one thing that you've missed the most since you’ve been here in the United States?
Mario: What I miss the most is my family and the culture. Latin America has a very extended and strong family structure in general, and that is what I miss the most.
Symphonie: When you came to the United States, was there anything here that you found really comforting or anything that you found to make yourself feel more at home?
Mario: The people here are wonderful. The kindness: they are always smiling, always polite, it's a very welcoming environment.
Symphonie: Was that just for the OHIO campus, or did you find that everywhere?
Mario: I think Athens and Ohio University are very welcoming and the amount of kindness that people exhibit towards international communities is remarkable.
Symphonie: We both marked Thanksgiving as one of our favorite traditions here in America. What do you like the best about Thanksgiving?
Mario: Beside the wonderful food, I think that the tradition of getting together with friends and family is what I like the most. It brings people together and allows for sharing and really wonderful moments.
Symphonie: Dr. Grijalva, could you explain a little bit about your research?
Mario: My research is based primarily on the premise that knowledge and science can help to alleviate the suffering of people in developing countries. So I work to research on a disease called Chagas Disease, a disease that affects the population in rural parts of Latin America. What I am trying to do is to find ways in which we can eliminate the disease and help improve the health of that people.
Mario: Symphonie, I am curious about what did you like the most about your visit to Mexico?
Symphonie: I liked the culture and the music and the food. I really enjoyed different music and trying different things... and talking to new people.
Mario: While you were there, what do you miss the most about your home?
Symphonie: I didn't really miss much about home while I was away. It was a really wonderful experience, and I was thinking more about my surroundings at the time. If I had to say that I missed anything, it was my new niece. I had a new niece born just before I went away, so I was thinking about her because I knew that she would grow up really fast while I was away.
Mario: You spent quite a bit of time down there. Once you came back, how did you feel about yourself?
Symphonie: When I returned from Mexico, I felt like I had been missing out on so much of the world. I was initially interested in learning Spanish. When I came back, I was interested in learning about different cultures that speak Spanish, be it Spain or Latin America or South America.
Mario: What are you plans for future travels?
Symphonie: I plan to go to as many areas and countries and cities that I possibly can; to improve my Spanish and to learn about as many different cultures as I possibly can. I am absolutely positive that Mexico is different from Chile and Argentina.