By Denton Josey, Page Editor
Growing up I remember seeing commercials for Space Camp. It seemed like a cool idea when I was young, but as I grew older Space Camp became un-cool, so I ditched the idea and made fun of it instead.
Studying in Russia, I’ve been thinking about space exploration because Russians are proud of the space program and their cosmonauts. The university I attend is on Gagarin Avenue, a street named after the first cosmonaut in space: Yuri Gagarin.
I haven’t learned much Russian language yet, but I can say “my name is Cosmonaut” or “I am a cosmonaut,” and even “are you a cosmonaut?” I have a poster of a cosmonaut standing in outer space holding a hammer in one hand and a sickle in the other.
This feeds my fascination with cosmonauts because it takes a brave person to leave behind everything familiar and safe and go explore new worlds. I believe they do this because people rarely regret adventures and journeys to new, foreign places.
Still, at certain times you might doubt how good an idea of leaving things was, and most of us can relate. Head off to college as a freshman and you say goodbye to friends from home who will indeed move on without you. Sometimes that is why we worry about school ending in May; will I still be friends with everyone next year or will something change over the summer?
Those who have studied abroad can understand even better.
You worry about coming back to ACU and finding you don’t have a place with your friends anymore and they all got along OK without you. You cringe when the conversations turn to times that happened while you were gone – and no one is really too interested in all the cool or funny things you experienced while studying abroad.
There are people I’ve met in Russia that are a lot like cosmonauts. The other international students I have met have to stay in Russia until they graduate, and they have to learn Russian for a year or so before they can take other classes.
Imagine being gone from friends, family and familiar food or language for five years.
There’s a similar scene at ACU. We have a thriving international culture with students from all over. Though Texans even drive friendly, sometimes our guests have a hard time adjusting. Sometimes it may not have anything to do with America or ACU, but with the sheer fact that they miss home.
I propose we appreciate our international students, much like the Russians appreciate their cosmonauts. It’s not so different – space exploration and what our international students have to go through. I suggest we ask about their life back home and about their families. Look at their pictures. They are an integral part of the ACU environment.
It takes brave people to decide to leave behind everything familiar and safe and go explore new worlds. Historically, these people are valued and celebrated. All I’m really saying is don’t forget the cosmonauts.