Sharing her voice

Students perform in the 2016 International Banquet at UWL.

UWL student from China prepares for annual International Banquet March 23

UWL international student Yuanman Ma is quiet in chemistry class. She took three years of chemistry at her high school in China, and she is familiar with the chemical equations on the white board. But organizing her thoughts into a detailed English question isn’t easy. It’s something that will come as the first-year student gains more English fluency during her four years on the UWL campus.

In the meantime, Ma has found other ways to share her voice.

Yuanman Ma, an international student from China.

She’ll give a solo vocal performance of a modern Chinese song during UWL’s 52 International Banquet Thursday, March 23, at UWL’s Student Union. The annual event celebrates the rich diversity and culture that UWL international students bring to campus and the greater La Crosse community. UWL international students and community members will perform.

Ma and two other other international students from China will perform together, reading poetry and singing two modern Chinese songs.

Ma, a chemistry major, comes to UWL from Zhuhai, China, a modern city on the southern coast with a population of more than 1 million people.

She found out about UWL through an internet search. She was looking for American schools with strong academics, yet a small-town feel. UWL fit the bill.

Before she came, Ma pictured UWL as very rural with just a few buildings and perhaps some nearby farms. She was surprised to find a fairly larger city and beautiful campus with many large, historic and modern buildings. It wasn’t what she pictured. It was much more.

“I’m impressed by the all services students can get — like the REC (Recreational Eagle Center) and the many sports you can play,” she says.

International student Yuanman Ma, far right, with the two other students in her trio.

Professors have been friendly and have their doors open for students to ask questions during office hours, she adds.

Ma, who loves food, says one of aspect of America she will be sure to share at home is the prevalence of cheese. Dozens of varieties line grocery store shelves and Americans find ways to work the dairy product into foods from cheese curds to cheesecakes.

“We have cheese in China, but not so many kinds,” she explains.

The things she misses most about China come from her southern province of Guangdong. She misses the Cantonese cuisine and the traditional mid morning tea where families and business people come together to meet and talk over a cup of tea.

Ma won’t be able to share everything about her home during the banquet, but her trio will share their voice. They will share poetry about choosing a life path and songs about love and keeping a positive attitude. Though the words will be in Chinese, the ideas are universal. Ma and her friends are excited to connect.