Contributed by Gannon University Global Student (and student ambassador) Lameck Kapupa
My name is Lameck Kapupa and I am from a city in Zambia known as Livingstone city. I graduated in December 2015 from the University of Zambia, obtaining an undergraduate degree in Social Work.
I came to know about Gannon University through William Edmondson in 2016 when I was working as a Volunteer Global Village Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Zambia. I worked with a service team from Gannon University comprising of seven students and three staff members. The service team built two houses under the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program in one week. It was an awesome experience working and interacting with the students. I’m so grateful to William for introducing me to Gannon and linking me to this great opportunity to advance my studies!
The impression I had of Gannon before arriving was that Gannon was a great school with a lot of local students and perhaps just a few international students. Before coming to Gannon, I was already following the school on Facebook and Instagram. By browsing through the university website, I was able to see pictures of the activities that students participate in, such as basketball, soccer, swimming, ping pong,and many other games that made me start to feel connected to the school even before arriving.
I didn’t know that Gannon University was located in the middle of downtown Erie and that it was surrounded by shops, banks and other businesses. I pictured it to be in an isolated area far away from the city and buildings.
The first week after I arrived was really interesting to me. I didn’t know that people experienced snow in Erie! I was very excited to see the snow as I came out of my apartment. I took pictures of the snow, which is beautiful, but I was also a bit startled by the cold during snowy days, especially when it was windy.
Although I was very excited and happy about coming to Gannon University, I also had a few questions about America. One of those questions was about food. I was curious about the kind of food that most people in America ate on a daily basis.
In Zambia, we mainly eat the same kind of food during lunch and dinner which is called Nshima, a dish made from maize flour and water, served with any kind of relish or topping (such as fried chicken, beef stew or beans). I was shocked to hear that people in America eat different kinds of foods every day! That usually doesn’t happen in my country and we only consider someone to have eaten if they had Nshima – not exactly pizza or a cheeseburger. A few days after my arrival, the first strange food that I ate was Ramen noodles. I must say, they tasted really good and I actually bought two packs afterwards.
It was amazing to see how welcoming and friendly people in Erie are. People would greet me with a smile on their face even if they didn’t know me. That came as a surprise to me, because in my culture we only greet people that we know.
I never thought that Gannon University would have so many international students, especially from Africa, but to my surprise, there are quite a number of them. I actually met students from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Libya, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which made me very happy. The Global Admissions and Global Support Office staff were very welcoming and helpful throughout my entire orientation period. This made me feel that I had people who were concerned about my welfare and made me feel like I was home.
Now, I am working together with the Global Admissions Office on a Global Ambassador Program to help international students like myself who are thinking about studying at Gannon. The goal of the Global Ambassador Program is to build a peer connection with prospective students so that they will have a friend on campus before they arrive. My role as a global ambassador is to make personal connections with prospective students, answer their questions about Gannon’s campus and community, share my experiences with regards to American culture and life in Erie and to reinforce everything that Gannon University has to offer.
I think it is important to speak to prospective students on a student-to-student level because it allows students to comfortably express themselves and ask questions that they might not bother to ask the university’s administrative staff. Students are usually more comfortable speaking to their peers and this gives them the opportunity to do that while making a huge decision or while trying to prepare for a new chapter in their lives!
We hope that this program will give prospective students the comfort of having a friend at Gannon who can not only help them adjust once they arrive on campus, but also provide them with a candid source of information about the Gannon experience from an international perspective. In order for the program to be a success, we are trying to establish strong channels of communication between global ambassadors and prospective students. We want to provide these students with useful information before they arrive to Erie so they know what to expect. Based on my own experience, I hope that my suggestions will help new international students to be as prepared as possible for life in Erie! As global ambassadors, we are more than delighted to guide and help prospective students in every way possible, and to share best practices, based on our own experiences.
We welcome any questions from anyone who is thinking about applying to Gannon, or who has already been accepted and is curious about life as a student here. You can get in touch with a global ambassador by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Learn more about our Office of Global Admissions and Outreach, and check out our introduction video here: