Belmont students Emily Dempsey, Nikhil Saxena and Jim Mixon were panel members for Tuesday’s convocation centered on their experiences growing up in Portugal, Abu Dhabi and Kenya, respectively. A presentation designed to engage students in dialogue surrounding Belmont’s campus theme, Living in a Global Community, the discussion included a question and answer structure where audience members asked about topics including cultural differences, transition challenges and religious tolerance.
Although the students grew up in a number of countries, their perspectives on global communities were similar. Dempsey, who grew up in Portugal, said that living abroad for much of her life has enhanced her communication skills. “Not necessarily expressing myself, but understanding people. When you have people from everywhere with all kinds of accents and English is their second or third language…understanding what they mean, not just what they say is important,” she said.
Both she and Mixon came to Belmont to pursue a love for music, a career they hope to couple with a love for service and people. Through music, the pair said they believe they are able to communicate on a deeper lever than with words and can use the global language to bypass barriers and cultural differences.
Despite living in the U.S. for college, Mixon said he will always call Kenya his “patriotic home.” Living in international communities teaches you that home is relational and communal. Often, friends in these communities only stay three to five years, so you learn to find a home internally. “Home is the thing that I take with me. I’m creating my home with me,” Mixon said.
The convocation was the first of a monthly series designed to bring Belmont’s campus theme to students in an engaging way.