Students break word barriers

Nate Billings

Language barriers and culture shock should not be a problem for the contestants of the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition.

Several international students volunteered to help the contestants should the host families or anyone else have problems communicating.

During the orientation April 19, interpreters were not as necessary as previously thought.

One interpreter, Dr. Sherman Hou, associate professor of Asian languages, helped translate Chinese between contestants and host families.

“It’s fun,” Hou said. “It’s a new area for me.”

Hou said the only difficult part about translating for the contestants would be the specialized music terms he could encounter.

He said for the most part, many of the contestants understand or speak English.

Olga Khlopina, junior pre-med major, is also volunteering her time when she is needed.

Khlopina said she would like to help wherever.

“I think it’s (MSIPC) something great on our campus,” she said.

Khopina said it was good to have the MSIPC in a small town.

Vivian León, director of MSIPC, said the international volunteers are used to helping the students feel more comfortable when they travel away from home to the United States.

She said the students and contestants could shop, talk and play games together during the week.

Jian Fan, freshman international studies major, gave his telephone number to a couple of Chinese contestants in case they needed his assistance.

He also found translating to be

somewhat unnecessary.

“They’re (the contestants) young, but they can communicate some things,” Fan said.

He said the contestants from China had to adjust to the different culture.

The contest itself is different from what the Chinese contestants were used to.

“There, this activity would be supported by the government,” Fan said.

“Here, people from around the country support it.”

Trish Udell, adjunct instructor with the Institute of International Studies, helped León find volunteers.

“They (the volunteers) can be a host to other international students,” Udell said. “They can share their positive attitudes.”

Udell said it was important for the contestants to have someone they can relate to while in the United States.

On Friday afternoon all international volunteers are invited to a reception for the contestants at Hastings Entertainment Store.

The volunteers were to be matched with contestants from their native countries if they were needed.

Most of the time, the volunteers were on an on-call basis.