As a rural community in northwest Wyoming, Powell may not seem like a very diverse place.
But you can find people from Uganda, China, Pakistan and Turkmenistan all living here.
Our small town is home to students from each of those countries, and more than a dozen others. They’ve traveled thousands of miles to study at Northwest College, bringing unique perspectives, life experiences and cultural insight to the small campus.
NWC students who have rarely traveled outside of Wyoming — much less the United States — can learn a lot about another country and culture by simply befriending a fellow student.
Our community and surrounding towns also benefit from international students moving to Powell. Throughout the school year, NWC students host a variety of cultural programs, meals and other events that are open to the community. Not only is it fun to experience another culture without having to leave home, the programs offer important opportunities to exchange ideas, experience something new and form friendships.
While many of us may struggle to find Turkmenistan or Uganda on a map, we can learn about those countries and many others from students who grew up there.
In today’s society, it’s easy to surround yourself with people who think much like you do. By having a conversation with someone from another culture, you can see an issue from another angle — and perhaps gain a valuable new perspective.
This weekend, students from more than 20 different countries will share traditions and tastes from their cultures during the annual Multicultural Showcase. The Saturday event is from 1-3:30 p.m. at the NWC DeWitt Student Center.
While the annual showcase brings together dozens of local residents and international students, it’s just one of many opportunities to celebrate diversity at Northwest College and in Powell.
For decades, local families have welcomed students into their homes through the NWC International Friendship Family Program. By sharing holidays, trips to Yellowstone or just getting together for dinner, international students form lasting friendships with area residents that continue long after they graduate.
The theme of this year’s Multicultural Showcase is #YouAreWelcomeHere. While the campaign was designed by higher education institutions, we hope the concept remains true for the entire Powell community: This is a safe and welcoming place to learn.