International and local students at Kent State participated in the fifth annual Run the World 5K and International Festival Saturday, Sept. 7 to raise money for study abroad programs.

The 5K started approximately at 8:30 a.m. on a chilly, cloudy September day. Still, the cold weather did not stop over 200 people from attending the 5K on the Kent campus.

Starting at Bowman Hall, runners made their way through campus and finished at Risman Plaza. The final stretch of the run traveled through the College of Science buildings where people cheered and encouraged the runners to finish strong. 

The 5K helped to connect students and faculty on campus, by giving them something to bond over besides the books.

Rwandan student Pacifique Niyonzima has spent two years at Kent State and “loves it here.”

“So, today I was running with my professor,” Niyonzima said. “Usually, we only do things for the classroom, but when we run together it’s very meaningful because it’s something that goes past the classroom.”

For some international students, the 5K gave students the opportunity to see all that campus has to offer.

“It was awesome. I had to explore the whole campus,” said Haweda Alghamdi, a Saudi Arabian second-year graduate student working toward her master’s in business administration.

Alghamdi spent three years in the U.S. and attends the run and the festival with her father annually.

When the run ended, members attended a ceremony that gave awards broken into five year age classes. Everyone who finished the race received a medal and a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship to study abroad. The top of the age class received a certificate. The overall winner for men and women received an award of all five medals from previous 5K runs. 

Devesh Petwal, a graduate student from Dehradun, India, has only spent one month at Kent State and used this festival as an opportunity to branch out and meet new people.

“It was great. This is about uplifting yourself and your confidence, your moral, coming to an event, meeting new people and achieving something,” Petwal said. “After we cross the finish line we get this medal and we get to keep it forever.”

The Education Abroad and International Programs office and the College of Arts and Sciences partnered with the Office of Global Communications and the Dean’s office to create this year’s event. 

An employee for the Education Abroad and International Programs Offices, Sarah Haglang, set up for the 5K and handed out medals to all the participants. 

“Everyday this week we’ve been outside of the CUE trying to get kids to sign up, just making sure we’re getting outreach in the community,” Haglang said.

The 5K was just a start to the day. After the run, attendees went downtown for the International Festival where 14 downtown businesses decorated their restaurants and boutiques to reflect different nations. 

Members of the Kent community were also encouraged to come and participate in free activities and samples of traditional international foods.

Sugar Rush, a candy shop in downtown Kent, set up Japanese decorations for the festival. Their intentions were to help international students feel at home while helping other students learn about a different culture. 

Sugar Rush gave out pandas and Japanese candy. They also had a photo opt with a tapestry of Japanese architecture, hanging lanterns and candles.

Other businesses, Like Ferrell-Whited Physical Therapy Services, created a craft opportunity. The business had an array of black, yellow and red beads to create keychains or jewelry to reflect Jamaica. 

Another Run the World 5K will occur next fall where students will have the chance to meet new students and a chance at a study abroad scholarship.

This is very significant to me because to support the students who study abroad, when you study abroad, there’s so much you learn and so much to bring to the community when you come back” Niyonzima said.

Sydney Ford covers international student life. Contact her at sford24@kent.edu

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