International students join forces with College Heights


Xiaoyu Wu/The Chart

Tomomi Uchino, left, IEP exchange student from Japan and Jiayi Xu, right, sophomore psychology major from China, chat while work at Great Day of Service.

The Missouri Southern International students group joined a church event, Great Day of Service, on Sunday morning, Sept. 29. It is the single largest service event sponsored by College Heights Christian Church to hit the city of Joplin.

Jerry Keifer led the international students for the fourth time. Keifer is one of the friendship family dads cooperating with the International English Program at Southern. 

“I think it will be a good opportunity for them to share in a service project with all of us, through our church; that way they get to go into our community and see how the people of our town work together, and give them an experience of helping a neighbor, like we are doing today, so we can all do this together,” Keifer said.

The international students group worked with their American peers. They swept the street and mowed lawns for two hours.

“It’s a really nice event, I think,” said Tomomi Uchino, IEP exchange student from Japan. “We can talk to a lot of people, and we can do volunteer work, and that is good for the society. It is my first time to do it [volunteer job] in America, and I really feel excited about it, and most importantly, I learned the importance of cooperation with my other international friends.”

However, neighbors at Connor Street did not show much interest in this church event. Only one household opened a gate for students to clean the yard.

“Well, that’s their choice,” said Keifer. “And what we do is we always go to respect the neighbors and go knock on their doors to find out if they want us to be here or not. But we can also do [clean] out in front of the parquet, between the parquet and street. It’s city-owned, so we can still do that part of it.”

Students showed understanding about neighbors’ unconcern for their work.

“I think it’s not right if we interrupt [break into] one’s house without saying it, and do [clean] their garden,” said Jiayi Xu, sophomore psychology major from China. “I still think it is really, really meaningful. Before, I even did not how to use those tools, you know, but now I know how to use them.”

“Some people think our volunteer job is kind of annoying, but it is only for some people. I still believe most people think it is very good,” Uchino said.

The hard work of the international students was highly praised by their American group members.

“I think they are working really hard, and they are having a good time, and getting to interact with each other,” Ozark Christian College junior ESL education major Briana Main said. “That’s awesome, and I am happy that they are here.”

“They did really well,” Chad Harris, Missouri Southern senior biology major, said. “Most of them are from big cities, so they probably don’t use shovels all the time, so for using it for probably one of the first time they never done ever something like that yet. I think they did pretty good.”

“I am happy with all of the kids, and we want all of them to join us, and that’s why we do this every year with the international group,” Keifer said.

After serving the community, the international students went to Landreth Park for the church lunch and live music.