"We've been trying to take international students to places or activities they wouldn't be exposed to in their home countries," says Hala. In addition to the white water rafting trip, international students new to Lehigh were invited to attend a trip to Atlantic City, an Allentown Ambassadors baseball game, indoor rock climbing, a local rodeo, and more.
But when asked what their favorite trip was, the students hands down chose the rafting trip for the adventure, fun, and opportunities to bond with fellow students it provided them.
"On the rafting trip I got to know many new international students, and I learned about new cultures and their countries," says Siaw Mie Lo from Malaysia. "Although I faced a lot of difficulties at first, my group rafted like pros in the end."
Dorid Mustafa from Jordan says the white water rafting trip is an experience he will always remember and recount. "Rafting was fun and entertaining, and it also provided me with a chance to discover more about the United States," he says.
When asked what other activities they'd like to tackle while in the U.S., most students expressed a desire to embark on more outdoor adventures.
"I'd like to try skiing, hiking, skating, and surfing, and I'd love to visit the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone," says Jun Cao from China.
Lo would like to attempt a military-style obstacle course. "If we did the course as a team, like we did the rafting, we could help each other and make even more friends," she says.
When the group of 12 international students climbed in rafts and jumped in the Lehigh River, it was only just the beginning of their journey of learning, self-discovery, and conquering fear here at Lehigh.
"In the beginning of the trip, there were some students I thought would be a bit hesitant to get in the water. By the end, they were jumping in, splashing, and having a wonderful time," Hala says. Rahman, who fell into the river and became separated from her peers at one point, was not discouraged, but inspired. She recalls: "I was panicked, but I kept trying to swim, and I made it. If there is ever a chance for me to go white water rafting again, I will be the first one to volunteer to go."