This is Oneida: Hospitality away from home

By Larry Gritton

Published: April 17, 2018

During our regularly scheduled breaks, we often work to help our international students find somewhere to stay. We keep our dormitories open during the short Thanksgiving break, but require all of our boarding students to leave our dormitories for the other three scheduled breaks. Most of our international students have family or friends somewhere in the United States that they can visit during these breaks, and a few will fly back overseas to be home during the breaks. However, there are always a few whom we place in the homes of our faculty and staff.

During our recent spring break, my family had the privilege of hosting two of our young men from South Korea. They are brothers and are both tremendous young men. The older of the two has been an OBI student for five years, will graduate in a few weeks, and plans to attend Eastern Kentucky University next year. He was voted by our faculty and staff as our most studious senior student. The younger of the two is a sophomore and has been with us for three years. Both of these young men are very serious about their studies and will be a tremendous success in whatever they choose to do in life.

We thoroughly enjoyed hosting these young men, and we were able to get to know them in a much more personal way. We enjoyed conversations, shopping and, of course, meals. The aroma of some of their native foods still permeates our home. As we learned more about these young men, their country and family, it dawned on me just how difficult it must be for the families of all of our international students. I can't imagine having my own children on the other side of the world at such a young age.

Oneida is such a unique blend of students. We have Appalachian students, students from all over the country, and students from across the world. Our students come to us for many different reasons, but most of our international students come to pursue an education in America and, in turn, the many opportunities the land of the free offers. As we visited with these boys and heard more about their family, I thought about what it might be like to have one or all of my three children away from home for a year or more at a time. This compelled me to ensure that we do a better job at OBI of caring for these students.

While we will do our very best to provide an excellent education for all of our students, we will also do our absolute best to offer the love of Jesus Christ to each one of them. The Great Commission challenges us to make disciples of all the world. What a blessing to have the world come to OBI and even stay in our homes so that we can do just that.